When I meet with families who are in time sensitive situations relative to additional care for their parents or another loved one, there are many questions they ask in regards to assisted living. Most families do not prepare well when their loved ones need more assistance at home, assisted living or even nursing homes. Following are just some of the questions and answers. If you have questions you’d like answered, please feel free to email me at

Q – I am looking at assisted living for my parents, and someone mentioned to me I should look at a Board and Care. What exactly is this?

A – Board and Care is the name the Department of Social Services for the State of California gave to smaller Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE’s). These are licensed assisted living homes that are smaller than the larger facilities you may see on main roads, usually accommodating about 6 residents. Residents staying at this type of care home may need care with various activities of daily living (grooming, bathing, dressing, cooking, medication management, etc.).

Q – Is Assisted Living different than Retirement Homes?

A – Though there are many similarities, there is a difference. “Retirement Homes” is a generic term usually referring to independent or senior communities whose residents are at least 55-60 years of age and are in good overall health. Assisted living, on the other hand, may have many of the same activities but have caregivers on staff 24/7 to assist residents with various care needs. There are many options available in assisted living including a range from small, adult family homes to facilities with multiple levels of care.

Q – My father, who is a veteran, should be in assisted living, but it may not be affordable. At the same time, his assets appear to be too great for Medi-Cal eligibility. This doesn’t seem fair. What suggestions do you have?

A – First of all, the fact that your father was a veteran during the time of war, there could very well be significant benefits to him. As far as Medi-Cal is concerned, the misconception is you have to spend all your money to qualify. This isn’t always true. You may be able to protect your assets while qualifying for both Medi-Cal and Veteran’s Aid and Attendance. Specialists in Medi-Cal planning and attorneys familiar with this can be well worth their fees.

Q – My mother needs to either get outside assistance in her home or possibly assisted living. Does Medicare cover any of this?

A – Medicare does pay for skilled care and home health aides in conjunction with skilled care. There are restrictions and care is performed by a licensed skilled care professional i.e. Nurse, Physical/Occupational Therapists, etc. Medicare does not pay for non-medical home care or assisted living which can includes Companion Care (Cooking, Cleaning, Shopping, Errands), Personal Care (Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Transferring) and medication management (assisted living only). However, there are other options for paying.

Q – I am beginning to look into some assisted living locations for my mother, and I’ve been told to do research and ask a lot of questions. Can you provide some input?

A – Assisted Living and Residential Care Homes (Board & Care) are all licensed by the State of California. It’s important to talk and meet with various people including those who run the location, as well as caregivers and residents. Also, it’s imperative to review the State’s facility evaluation reports to see if there have been any citations issued against the location, the severity of those citations and how they were remedied. The questions that need to be asked are too numerous for this article, but please call our office, and we would be happy to provide you guidance in all these areas.

Frank M. Samson is Founder of Senior Care Authority based in Sonoma and also hosts “The Aging Boomers” on KSVY 91.3 or can be listened to live at, every Monday at 2pm PT. The company provides free assistance to families in helping them find In-Home Care, Independent and Assisted Living for their loved ones. He can be reached at 707.939.8744 or e-mailed at The company website is