Planning and Paying for Assisted Living
If you and your aging loved one are beginning to think about making a move to a senior living community, you have probably thought about the financial resources you will need for this investment. Most families have many questions about funding when they are searching for an assisted living community. How much will a monthly apartment rental cost? What is included? How much will additional care services cost? Are assisted living services included in the monthly rental or is there a separate fee? When touring an assisted living community, a senior living advisor can answer these questions and simplify the details of evaluating cost.
Initially, though the cost for senior living services can seem like an expensive monthly undertaking, it is still a viable option for many families. Most seniors fund this lifestyle through private resources, and with the help of a few other financial programs, as Medicare is not an accepted form of payment in facilities without skilled care. However, before comparing costs, remember that assisted living is an investment in the health, safety, and well-being of your loved one, allowing them quality care and independence, and you, peace of mind.
Planning and Paying For Assisted Living
A caregiver who is helping a parent plan a move to an assisted living community can start comparing costs by first identifying their loved one’s monthly income and theliving expenses that are budgeted for each month, such as housing, maintenance, utilities, and meals. Next take a closer look at the care needs of your loved one and evaluate what kind of specialized care they may need. Do they need help managing their medications? Do they need assistance getting dressed? Do they have dementia? Considering these needs is the first step in comparing senior living costs.
Planning: Your loved one’s personal needs and preferences are important considerations for selecting a residence and comparing costs. If mom wants a one bedroom apartment and doesn’t need any assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), she may only need to pay the monthly rental of the apartment. Many communities offer all- inclusive monthly rentals, but be sure to find out the details of what is included, as amenities can differ greatly between facilities.
While one community may offer 3 full meals a day and weekly laundry service, another community may only offer 2 meals a day and no laundry services. While one community may charge a community fee upfront, another may not. Be sure to ask about the services and amenities in detail and include those costs in your evaluation.
If mom is looking for a studio apartment, but needs assistance with mobility, bathing and managing medications, these services will need to be factored in to your cost comparison, separate from the basic monthly rental. In planning, first determine the kind of care services your loved one needs then assess how much of these services are included in the basic rental rate. The size of the apartment is also worth considering when reviewing your finances. If affordability is a concern, settling for a smaller sized apartment can help to offset the costs of care services and help to stretch your resources.
In most senior residences, administrators are happy to provide information on monthly rental rates, assisted living services fees, a la carte options, occupancy levels and even staffing to help in cost planning and meeting your personal preferences. You may also request a cost calculator or worksheet to estimate service costs.
Paying: While Medicare does not cover assisted living, certain health care services and eldercare organizations offer financial support, under specific guidelines. Your loved one may be eligible to tap into some of these programs:
- Line of Credit: Available nationwide, this payment plan is especially helpful for families who are waiting for federal benefits to start or waiting to sell an asset to pay for care. Up to $50,000 can be extended as line of credit.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A monthly cash disbursement, SSI is a government financial tool granted to eligible individuals with limited source of income. Money from SSI payments originates from the general fund of the US Treasury.
- Long Term Care Insurance: If you or your loved one purchased long term care insurance years ago, now is the time to tap into it. This type of policy usually sets aside a daily dollar amount for senior care/housing over a period of time. Investigate your loved one’s eligibility.
- Veteran’s Benefits: Your loved one may qualify for the “Aid and Attendance program” if your mom or dad is a US veteran. Couples are eligible for up to $2,000 per month.
Before you make a decision about whether or not your loved one can afford assisted living, be sure to make the time to sit and talk with a senior living advisor at the community to truly compare the costs. While most facilities provide similar services to their residents, remember that each community is very different in terms of how costs are distributed and what living options they offer.
After looking at monthly income, assets, pensions, and benefits, or after selling a home, many families are surprised to find that assisted living may not be out of reach. If you do a bit of preparation and planning, assisted living can be a great option for your loved one and help to ease the stress and worries associated with being a caregiver. Help your mom or dad stay ahead of the financial game and explore the possibilities today!
- When comparing costs, remember that assisted living is an investment in the health, safety, and well-being of your loved one.
- Start planning for assisted living by determining your monthly income, expenses, and the needs of your loved one, and inquire about what kind of assisted living services are included in the basic rental rate.
- While Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, certain health care services, insurance policies, and eldercare organizations offer financial support, under specific guidelines.
- Assisted living facilities provide similar living options in general, but services and amenities can vary between communities and must be considered when planning.
- Always make time to sit with a senior living advisor to calculate and compare costs before determining if assisted living is an affordable option; you may be surprised!
Assisted Living Communities
If you are interested in learning more about independent and assisted living communities please visit www.umh.org to learn more about our communties and why they would be right for you!
About Elizabeth Bemis
In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.
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