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Assisted Living in MA

A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities in Massachusetts

What they're called

Official name: Assisted Living Residences (ALRs)

Common name: Assisted living facilities

To compare assisted living to board and care, skilled nursing, and other long-term residential care communities, see Residential Care Options: How to Decide.

What they offer
  • Individual living units (from single rooms to multiroom apartments with kitchen)
  • All meals, usually in a common dining area
  • Supervision and medication monitoring
  • Personal care services: Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)such as eating, dressing, and bathing
  • Social and exercise activities
  • Special care programs for residents with memory loss (most facilities)

Note: Some facilities also offer respite care and other special services.

What they cost

Median monthly fees: $4,950 (higher for residents requiring memory care)

State of Massachusetts requirements
  • Facility may arrange "ancillary health services" (such as nursing, physical or other therapy, or palliative care) provided by a licensed healthcare agency or hospice.
  • Facility must make a resident assessment, including evaluation of resident's physical and cognitive condition, level of care needs, and ability to self-manage medication.
State of Massachusetts oversight

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (617-727-7750) certifies assisted living facilities.

How to resolve problems or offer feedback
  • Massachusetts maintains a special assisted living ombudsman (a free service); contact at 617-727-7750 or toll-free at 800-AGE-INFO (800-243-4636).
  • Rate and review assisted living facilities.
How to pay for assisted living in Massachusetts
  • Most assisted living is paid for privately by the resident and/or his or her family.
  • For people with very low income who qualify for Medicaid, the Group Adult Foster Care (GAFC) program pays a monthly amount to the facility for a resident's care. Most people eligible for GAFC also qualify for a special Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment, which covers the rent portion of the facility's fees. Facilities that participate in GAFC usually limit it to a small number of their living units.
  • The ElderCHOICE program offers a certain number of reduced-price units in participating facilities. To qualify for an ElderCHOICE unit, a resident must have only about half the median income for that geographic area. Facilities that participate in ElderCHOICE must reserve 20 percent of their units for qualifying residents.
  • Not all assisted living facilities participate in either GAFC or ElderCHOICE. The limited numbers of units means there's almost always a waiting list. To learn more about these programs, see the assisted living pages of the official website of the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs.
  • Low-income veterans or surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for Aid and Attendance or other payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which can help pay for assisted living.
Help finding and choosing a facility
  • Hire a geriatric care manager (most have extensive local knowledge about assisted living facilities in a particular geographic area, including space availability, resident needs assessments, sliding scale fees, and resident satisfaction). To find a geriatric care manager, see's Senior Living Directory.
  • For details about assisted living facilities in each of the 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, see A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities.

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