Need Help Paying for Assisted Living? Follow These 5 Tips
It can be difficult for individuals and families to get straightforward cost figures when trying to plan for assisted living. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, if you are planning in advance, you won't necessarily know the level of care that will be needed in the future. You also may not be clear on whether a loved one qualifies for certain assistance, and of course, you'll have a variety of assisted living facilities and senior living communities to choose from. Still, according to recent surveys, it's safe to say that you're looking at costs between $2,000 and $5,000 per month.
Regardless of when or where your loved one will be transitioning to a new community, one of the chief concerns among caregivers is paying for assisted living. That's not the kind of money most people have on hand, and it can create some real financial hardship. Arranging quality care and a healthy environment for your relative can be stressful enough on it's own. Throwing cost into the mix can really make you feel overwhelmed.
For the average family, the majority of assisted living expenses will be paid for out of private funds. In order to make sure you can help cover these costs, your best approach is to be prepared in advance. While none of us can be sure of exactly when our loved ones might need to move into assisted living, the truth is that any amount of pre-planning is better than none.
To that end, one of the easiest things you can do is to open up a savings account, and make regular contributions. You can always speak to a financial advisor too, as they can help you decide if, when, and how to invest your money for the greatest returns.
Add these savings deposits into your budget, so you can maximize the contributions you make each month. After sitting down and planning out a budget, you may find that you're able to save more than you thought.
Need help planning for senior living costs?
Download Our Free Guide "Planning and Paying for Assisted Living"
Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
One common misconception is that Medicare will pay for all your assisted living costs, which isn’t true. Unfortunately, many people are unclear on that point, and may mistakenly think they have more coverage than they do.
However, there are some other types of long-term insurance that will be helpful.
Medicaid often helps pay for a portion of assisted living costs. This is usually handled on a case-by-case basis. Income, need, age, and the state where your loved one resides might all be taken into account before a decision is made regarding eligibility. You will have to make a few phone calls to gather information, but the more you know in advance, the more informed your decisions can be when it comes to your options and what’s covered.
Lastly, there are long-term care insurance policies which can be taken out specifically to help cover the costs of assisted living. It will be very helpful if your loved one already has a policy in place. If you are interested in finding out more about a policy, you can contact insurance agents for quotes and explanations of the plans available.
Remember to Compare Options
Not all assisted living facilities are the same, so don't assume that the cost of one reflects the cost of another. Each one deserves a closer look. There is a wide range of options available, and caretakers should research carefully to make sure any facilities they are considering will meet the needs of their loved ones.
For instance, if your loved one is perfectly capable of getting around on their own, they could consider moving to an active living community, rather than a long-term medical care residence. These communities offer more social opportunities and activities and don't require doctors and nurses to be on call full time. The difference in community type will be reflected in the cost.
There are two main factors that will affect pricing: quality of care, and community amenities. Your loved one might be just as happy and well cared-for in a community without a spa that has an amazing staff, as with one – but it’s crucial to consider the value of the care you’re paying for rather than the amenities.
As with many things in life, this will be a balancing act.
Look Into Veterans or Disability Benefits
Your loved one may have access to certain benefits that will help cover the costs of assisted living. These are especially helpful to families, so it's always encouraged that caregivers try to find out as much as they can about possible benefit coverage.
One of the most generous benefit plans is given to veterans who were wounded in military service, or their spouses. If your loved one happens to have this coverage, a significant portion of their assisted living costs will be covered. Veterans who served but were not wounded also qualify for partial long-term care coverage, as do their spouses. You can contact your local Veterans Affairs office for more detailed information.
Another source of possible benefit coverage is disability insurance. If your loved one has been disabled, their long-term care might be partially covered as well, lessening the financial burden on you or their other caregivers. Contact your loved one's insurance carrier to get more specific details of this benefit.
Caregivers don't have an easy job. In addition to seeing to the physical and emotional needs of their loved ones, the time may come when they have to select a long-term care community. Selecting the best possible option is a high priority, but many caregivers are very concerned that “the best possible” simply isn't affordable.
These concerns are valid, and shared by many caregivers, but the more information you have, the wider your options. Knowledge is what will give you the greatest control over this important decision. For a more in-depth look at the ins and outs of paying for assisted living for your loved one, please download our free guide, “Your Guide to Planning and Paying for Assisted Living."
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
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