Located in northwestern Oregon, Salem - the state’s capital - is home to a wide variety of senior living opportunities. With dozens of assisted living communities, retiring families are sure to find a place where they can live the life they've always imagined.
This guide will discuss the senior living opportunities in Salem, Oregon, and the regulations in place to guarantee residents receive top-quality care.
Salem Assisted Living
Before a community may provide supportive services or house residents, they must be properly licensed by the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). All assisted living communities in Salem must meet the ODHS regulations to receive licensing.
Assisted living communities and residential care facilities are two different categories of long-term care residences in Oregon:
Assisted living communities are residences with fully self-containing senior living units, providing accommodations for six or more unrelated individuals.
Residential care facilities may contain shared or individual senior living units, providing accommodation for six or more unrelated individuals.
Both categories of communities offer the same types of amenities and supportive services. Prospective residents should use their personal needs and preferences to determine which option is best for their retirement. Some incoming residents prefer assisted living residences in Salem for their private, non-shared senior living units, while others prefer cohabiting in a residential care facility.
Before a long-term care community admits a new resident, they must be sure they will meet the person’s physical and cognitive needs. To facilitate admissions, the ODHS requires incoming community residents to participate in a pre-admission assessment so the community can have a strong understanding of their ongoing needs. The assessment will take the person’s medical history and current health conditions into consideration, like their prescriptions or other medical supports they require.
Assisted living communities in Salem must fulfill a person’s physical and cognitive needs to admit them. If an admitted resident’s needs during their stay at a community, they are welcome to arrange third-party care as necessary.
Communities must provide standard supportive services to fulfill the ODHS regulation requirements. Alongside assistance with each resident’s activities of daily living (like bathing, dressing, or eating), assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Salem must offer:
Social and medical transportation
Social and recreational activity programs
In general, families move into an out of assisted living communities whenever they choose to do so. However, involuntary discharges are allowed in Oregon when qualifying circumstances apply. For example, a person who disrupts other residents or puts them at risk may be discharged from an assisted living community in Salem. Residents who may no longer evacuate the residence safely due to ambulatory challenges are also subject to involuntary discharge.
Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Senior Care in Salem, Oregon
Assisted living communities are one facet of long-term care in Salem, Oregon. Depending on a prospective resident’s daily needs and personal preferences, assisted living may or may not be the right choice for long-term care. For many people, independent living communities or nursing homes are more appropriate options.
When families research assisted living communities, they may want to know how they compare to independent living in Salem. Independent living offers a residential, home-like setting similar to assisted living, where residents enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle. Assisted living and independent living communities in Salem are subject to individual sets of regulations and do not provide the same levels of care.
Independent living communities are not required by the ODHS to assist residents with their activities of daily living like assisted living communities. Alternatively, independent living residences in Salem provide 24-hour peace of mind for residents who want the benefits of community-based care with the privacy of at-home living. Typically, independent living residents are self-sufficient, move throughout their community without assistance from another person, and complete their daily tasks independently. When an independent living resident needs help, they may request it as necessary.
Unlike residential care communities and assisted living facilities in Salem, nursing homes are licensed to provide skilled nursing care. Skilled nursing care is ideal for residents with ongoing health conditions, like chronic illness or injury. They are staffed with nurses and other medical professionals to help residents get suitable health care services and assistance with their daily activities.
The best type of long-term care community for a prospective long-term care resident depends on their individual needs and preferences. Families should note that special funding options exist for different types of long-term care, meaning some assistance programs will pay for nursing homes and not independent or assisted living communities (and vice versa).
Standard Assisted Living Amenities in Salem, Oregon
For senior care residences in Salem to qualify as assisted living communities, they must provide three meals a day for each resident in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid’s diet regulations.
Additionally, communities should prepare meals to accommodate each resident’s individual dietary needs. When residents have allergies, religious dietary restrictions, or other special requirements, their community must provide meals suitable for their individual needs. Common customizations include meals made with kosher ingredients or meals made with low sodium.
Many assisted living communities take their services and amenities to the next level, offering resort-style resources to create an all-in-one experience for their residents. Typical resort-style amenities include:
On-site movie theaters
Hair salons and barber shops
Walking trails and gardens
Jacuzzis and spas
Community living areas with televisions, speakers, and comfortable furniture
Arts and crafts stations
To be in accordance with the ODHS regulations, assisted living communities in Salem must offer recreational activities and social events to help their residents stay active and stimulated. These events may include:
Social mixers, happy hours, and other casual gatherings
Competition nights with board games or billiards
Arts and crafts sessions and lessons
Lectures, classes, and guest speakers
Group outing to nearby landmarks and other points of interest
Families should speak with potential residences to learn more about their on-campus amenities and activities before applying. Many assisted living communities in Salem publish a calendar of activities online so current residents and interested parties can see which events are happening soon.
Assisted Living Apartments in Salem, Oregon
Like a communities services and amenities, the ODHS has regulations in place for the apartments assisted living residences in Salem are required to provide. Different regulations are in place for assisted living communities versus residential care facilities, depending on each residence’s license.
Residences that qualify as assisted living communities but offer individual units for each resident. Each living unit is required to have a private bathroom, doors that lock, and a kitchen that follows Oregon’s general building regulations. Residents are allowed to share units, but only on a voluntary basis. Assisted living communities in Salem are not allowed to assign residents a roommate unless the individuals request it.
Private bathrooms must have a toilet, a sink, and a wheelchair accessible shower to meet the ODHS guidelines. Kitchens are subject to their own regulations, requiring them to have a sink, a refrigerator, and a cooking appliance. Many communities provide luxury kitchen amenities like dishwashers, but these are not required by the ODHS.
Residential care communities may provide shared or private units. When a residential care facility offers shared rooms, they are not permitted to house more than two individuals in one. Some shared apartments have suite-style layouts where residents share rooms, others offer individual, private bedrooms for each resident. When a community’s offer private bedrooms, they may not open directly into a public hallway.
Bathrooms may be located inside the residential care units themselves or they may be in common hallways, as long as they are centrally located. When residential care units have their own bathrooms, they must have a sink, a mirror, a toilet, and they must accommodate wheelchairs.
Along with the standard apartment amenities set forth by the ODHS regulations, many communities provide luxury features like:
Balconies and patios
Individually controlled air conditioning and heating
Internet and cable hookups
Extra living space, like breakfast nooks and dining rooms
When potential assisted living residents are considering a community, touring is the best way to see their apartments up close. Many communities offer floor plans online, but seeing layouts in person is an excellent opportunity for families to see if they can picture themselves calling the residence home.
Things to Do in Salem, Oregon
As the state’s capital, there are limitless opportunities for fun and excitement in Salem. Oregon is famous for its natural beauty and Salem residents can see it all thanks to the many local parks, gardens, and nature preserves.
Riverfront City Park offers green areas and serene views, perfect for a picnic or a simple day in the sun. The park offers a large playground where families can take their children, as well as an amphitheater that houses live music and entertainment. Bush’s Pasture Park is another popular outdoor point of interest in Salem, offer more than 90 acres of playgrounds, trails, gardens, and tennis courts.
Interested in history? The Deepwood Museum & Gardens are a must-see, where guests can enjoy expansive nature trails and tour a classical Queen Anne Victorian-style home. The history exhibits are interesting and informative, while the guided tours are ideal for first-time visitors.
Funding Assisted Living in Salem
Paying for assisted living can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many options out there to help families finance their retirement, from insurance policies to Veterans benefits.
Long-term care insurance is one of the most popular ways to pay for assisted living, taking the worry out of retirement. When families purchase long-term care policies before retirement age, they can significantly reduce their financial burden and save thousands of dollars over the course of their retirement. Assisted living communities in Salem regularly accept long-term care insurance, although families should clarify with potential residences that their policy will be accepted.
Conversely, long-term care insurance requires planning to be an affordable way to pay for assisted living. The closer individuals are to retirement age when they purchase long-term care insurance, the more they can expect to pay each month in monthly premiums. The earlier families buy their long-term care insurance policies, the less they will spend on premiums before they retire.
When long-term care insurance isn’t viable, families can turn to certain government programs for help if they meet the requirements. Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for assisted living, but Medicaid will under certain circumstances.
In Oregon, families may participate in the Community First Choice (CFC) program if they need help paying for long-term care. To qualify, applicants must need a nursing home level of care and they must be financially eligible. For recipients to use the benefits at an assisted living community, the residence must provide adequate supports and assistance.
Alongside the CFC program, Oregon residents have access to the Independent Choice Program (ICP). The ICP is a helpful resource for individuals retiring in Salem, paying them a cash award to offset the costs of long-term care. The award is paid monthly, which may be used for personal care services in either a home or community-based setting.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers its own unique program to help retirees pay for long-term care, known as the Aid & Attendance program. Aid & Attendance provides qualifying individuals with cash each month to pay for facets of their long-term care, including community-based assistance.
To learn more about the Aid & Attendance benefit, veterans should contact their VA caseworker for information about their personal eligibility.