As elderly family members continue to age, taking care of their health can become more difficult for them and their families. If you are a senior citizen, you may begin to notice that daily tasks at home become more of a challenge.
You may even feel more irritable when it comes to completing your daily health regime. For family members, it may be evident that loved ones start to need more and more assistive care as they grow older. This is usually a good time to begin discussing options for senior living and residential care facilities.
Having open discussions to decide that it is time to relocate is the first step. Then it is necessary to decide what type of senior living is best for you or your loved one. There are many factors to consider, including cost and services provided.
The following provides a senior living guide for seniors and family members to better understand options for residential care.
Different Options for Senior Living
Assisted living facilities provide general supervision and assistance with daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking. They are ideal if the resident is generally healthy and independent but has difficulty performing these tasks on his or her own. Additional services might include laundry, banking, barbers and beauticians, transportation and field trips, and social activities.
For those who are still mostly independent but desire more connection with others their age, retirement communities may be the right place. These facilities consist of independent apartments with a range of offerings, such as community clubs, events, fitness centers, lounges, dining, and salons.
Nursing homes are ideal for residents who have more critical health conditions. They are staffed by doctors, nurses, and licensed healthcare professionals. Rooms may be private or semiprivate, meals may be tailored to the resident’s nutritional needs, and other health therapies may be offered.
Memory Care Facilities
If one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, a memory care facility can provide specialized care. These centers focus on one-on-one care and are often highly secure because of various risks associated with elderly memory loss. With an emphasis on safety and wellness, services include meal preparation, transportation, housekeeping, laundry, 24-hour personal assistance, aid with daily tasks, and hobby activities.
Whether provided in a hospital, in a specialized facility, or as home care, hospice care is an important decision if the individual is facing serious health issues. These facilities emphasize comfort rather than cure of lasting ailments. Hospice staff includes physicians, home health aides, social workers, bereavement counselors, and physical therapists. What more is that there is always a staff member available 24 hours a day.
Home Health Care
Offering short-term aid, home health care is especially beneficial for seniors who are recovering from hospitalization, are learning to follow a new health regime, or require advanced medical treatment at home. Home health agencies work with you and your family to determine the type of care you may require.
Senior Living statistics
Across the United States, there are nearly 50 million senior citizens and approximately 22,200 residential care facilities. More than two-thirds of seniors require long-term residential care, and 75 percent of seniors over the age of 90 require assistance with daily living activities.
Around one-third of residents in assisted living stay there for less than six months. Another third are residents for one to three years. The final third of seniors in assisted living is split between those who stay three to five years, and those who stay five years or more.
Residents of assisted living facilities come from different places of care and life. Nine percent, 10 percent, and 11 percent of them are referred to assisted living from rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and hospitals, respectively. The majority (76 percent), however, were previously staying in a house, apartment, rented room, or family residence.
Costs of Senior Living Options
Senior living options vary in cost for a number of reasons. These include the size of the facility, the services and amenities provided, the type of facility it is and the level of care, and whether the resident has special needs. It is important to understand that the quality of care is not necessarily reflected by the cost of care.
Assisted living centers cost on average $3,750 per month. These fees are expected to increase to $5,040 by 2027.
Retirement communities can vary drastically in price, especially depending on where they are located. The average monthly fees may be as low as $1,500 or as high as $10,000. These costs generally don’t include other expenses like utilities, food, club memberships, and activity fees.
The average monthly cost to stay in a semiprivate room at a nursing home is about $7,145, which is also expected to increase. By 2027, the same room may cost up to $9,600.
Memory care facilities tend to cost on average about $5,000 per month.
Hospice care is typically billed on a per-day basis. At-home hospice care may cost as low as $150 per day, while care in a specialized facility can be more expensive, ranging up to $750.
Home Health Care
The costs of home health care depend on what services are required. It is typically billed on a daily or even hourly rate, with an average of about $100 per day.
Living at Home With Caregivers vs Senior Living Facilities
One of the biggest differences between at-home care and senior living facilities is that the former tends to be for more short-term care, while the latter can provide care for several years. However, services provided by at-home versus facility care can be quite similar.
While recipients of at-home care are able to stay in a familiar setting, often even with their families, residents at live-in facilities gain more benefits of community with peers their age.
Both types of care can have very disparate costs depending on the services provided, but on a monthly basis, home health care is comparable in price to assisted living and retirement communities.
For more specialized care, such as that provided by a nursing home or memory facility, residential facilities can be more expensive than in-home care. The costs of home care, of course, do not include other expenses, such as food, utilities, and other bills, whereas the fees for residential facilities are usually more inclusive.
Cost Planning Guide to Paying for Senior Living
While the cost of elderly residential care can be high, there are means and strategies to help pay for it. Be sure to keep a senior cost planner to keep track of how you will be paying for your care.
Income and Savings
One sure way of being able to pay for residential care is to save for it in advance. Personal savings and pensions are easy ways to pay for senior living. You may also be able to pool resources from family members who support you.
Medicaid is accepted in several states as partial payment for senior living. It typically covers at least 40 percent of the costs, but conditions vary depending on the state.
Two-thirds of residents in nursing homes pay for their care with Medicaid. Hospice care is also usually covered by Medicaid. Of course, to qualify for Medicaid, it is necessary to demonstrate financial need.
Medicare can also be used to pay for residential care, but only if the individual requires skilled care. It therefore cannot be applied to retirement communities or assisted living facilities, but Medicare does cover up to 100 days in a certified nursing home facility.
Medicare can also be used for home health services, as well as hospice care, although it will not cover any curative treatment as part of the hospice care plan.
Private Health Insurance
Most private health insurance policies cover the cost of home health care but do not extend to other in-home care services like housekeeping.
For seniors who have served in active duty for at least 90 days, a stipend is available for them and their spouses through the VA to cover some of the costs of senior living. It is also important that the veteran first meets certain medical qualifications.
Long-Term Care Insurance
While long-term care insurance policies can be expensive to purchase as an older adult, they generally provide partial coverage for residential care. If you or your loved one is enrolled in such a policy, care facilities typically have advocates who work with providers to ensure the resident receives the appropriate benefits.
Liquidation and Equity
Most individuals intend to stay in the elderly living facility for the rest of his or her life as a permanent residence. In this case, selling off unnecessary assets to help fund the cost of care can also be considered. Such assets include houses, cars, and other high-value items.
Another option is to sell your life insurance policy for a cash settlement. This means that your family no longer receives the insurance benefits after you pass away, but instead be directed to the funds needed for the senior living facility or in-home services.
If a retirement community is out of your budget, you might also consider looking into Section 202 subsidized housing for seniors.
Living in such apartments requires qualifying based on financial need. It should also be noted that most, if not all, subsidized housing complexes have long wait lists.
Questions To Ask When Touring Senior Living Communities
When you have narrowed down your list of options to a few different facilities to tour, be sure to go prepared with questions.
- How much say do you and your family have in making decisions about care and treatment?
- Can the facility meet any special needs you or your loved one may have?
- Does the facility specialize in one area of service, or does it provide a wide range of services?
- Are aides available round the clock all days of the year?
- Is care guaranteed if your or your family member’s usual nurse or aide is ill, has an emergency, or goes on vacation?
- What procedures are in place in case of emergency?
- Does the facility perform background tests on staff?
- Is the performance of nurses, therapists, or aides regularly evaluated by a supervisor?
- Is the facility Medicare-certified?
- How long has the facility or agency been in business?
- Does the facility or agency offer details of treatment costs in writing?
- Does the facility or agency provide written documentation of the care plan and treatment as administered?
- Is there an appeals process for dissatisfied residents?
- How are the fees calculated?
- Are the fees negotiable?
- Are there move-in discounts or other special offers?
Tips for Touring Senior Living Facilities
As you prepare to tour senior living facilities, carry a notepad and camera so that you may record your visit adequately. These notes could prove valuable in comparing and making a final decision later on.
The first quality to look for is cleanliness. If the care centre looks a bit unkempt, it is typically a sign that staff and management for that centre is sub-par. This carries over to the general attitude of staff and management, which is very important.
If possible, visit the facility during mealtime. Try the food and get a sense of what food options are available and whether they will be suitable for you or your loved one.
You should also try to visit during recreational hours. Observe how engaging the social activities are and whether the residents are participating and having fun.
Additionally, be sure to get a look at the outdoor spaces. The spaces should be well-maintained as well as safe and secure.
If you can, get feedback from other residents and families to give you a bit of an idea of how the facility runs.
Doing research first allows you to narrow down your options before going out to tour facilities. This will help avoid unnecessary time spent on driving.
Some facilities in high demand have long waiting lists, so it is often beneficial to have one picked out well in advance of when you might need it.
After touring several facilities and learning what you can from them, you may still be unsure where to place your loved one. In this case, consider taking another family member or two with you for a second opinion.
Moving Into Senior Living Checklist
Make sure the individual is comfortable with the idea of moving into a residential care facility or with receiving at-home care. It is a big adjustment to make, and you should discuss the transition together, talking openly about the needs, abilities, and obligations of family caregivers and recipients. If you are the one making the move, you should feel in control of that decision.
If you are planning to move to a living facility in a different city or state, remember to plan accordingly. Especially when looking at facilities that permit more mobility, like retirement communities, be sure that you are familiar with the area and know at least where the nearest hospital and grocery stores are. If you are moving to a warmer climate, give yourself time to adjust to the weather.
You want to feel as at home as possible in your new community. Prepare to transport your favorite items, like a chair where you like to read or nap; family photos; materials for any hobbies; plants or fish if they are permitted; comfortable blankets, towels, or sheets; or music devices like radio, CDs, or iPods.
Gather important legal documents like birth and marriage certificates, a driver's license, a social security card, credit cards, insurance cards, organ donor cards, military records, and a will and power of attorney.
Before moving, be sure to visit your physician for a physical and updated medical history.
What Your Family Can Expect Once You Are at Senior Living
Each senior living facility has its own regulations regarding visitation. For high-care facilities like nursing homes, this might include set visiting hours. Other centers may require visitors to pay a fee if they wish to share a meal with the resident.
It is important that you and your family communicate clearly about your expectations for visits. You may wish to have frequent visits when you first move in, but after getting settled, visits once a week or twice a month may be more ideal.
Your family should also keep in mind what time of day is best for them to visit. They may ask you or your nurse to suggest an optimal time. Consider when you feel the most awake and energized during the day, whether you want them to join you for a meal, or whether you wish to share a scheduled activity together.
Some senior living facilities provide internet access to residents, which also allows for virtual visits if your family lives farther away. Be sure that you and your family both know what internet services are available, and plan your communication accordingly.
There are many crucial factors to consider when making a decision about where you or your loved one can receive the best residential care. Using the information in this guide, create your own senior living planner to prioritize your needs.
At the end of the day, your happiness and comfort, as well as your family's peace of mind, should be the deciding factor in choosing the right care for you. Make the decision together, and choose the best option for you and your family.