4 Things to Know About Paying for Assisted Living
There are three circumstances under which people seek out information on assisted living. The first is when it is becoming apparent that the needs of a loved one will soon exceed the capacity of the caregiver. The second, is after a crisis which proves that the caregiver is in over their heads and needs immediate assistance. The third, is when an individual plans well in advance for their own care through their mid and late retirement years. Unfortunately for many caregivers, the third option does not happen as often as we might like.
This means is that caregivers are usually coming into this discussion at a disadvantage. They have very little familiarity with assisted living, and therefore have many questions. Chiefly among them is how they will go about paying for assisted living.
In an effort to make this as transparent as possible, here's our list of 4 things you need to know about payment when a loved one needs extra care.
1. Average Costs
Right up front, let's begin by citing some statistics. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Cost of Care, it is reported that the median monthly charge for a one bedroom unit in an assisted living community is $3,500. Nationwide, you are looking at a range in costs between $2,000 and $5,000 per month for comparable living space.
Those numbers can make many families nervous, especially if they're struggling themselves. This is why the following information is so important to consider.
2. You Get What You Pay For
Among the largest concerns of most caregivers is the quality of care and amenities their loved ones will be getting. Entrusting a member of your family to a full-time assisted living community means placing a lot of trust in the establishment, and the people working there.
Here are the aspects of assisted living that you will want to carefully research when choosing and comparing prices:
Amenities – What types of “perks” will your loved one have access to? Many communities offer gyms, spas, and pools to help promote and maintain whole body health. Nutritious food is very important, but so is the enjoyment of that food. Is the dining atmosphere more like a cafeteria, or more like a restaurant? Of course you will also want to find a place that offers a wide range of interesting and fun activities as well.
Quality of Care – Check to see which medical professionals are in attendance, and when. Ask about emergency situations, and how they are handled. You will want to make sure that the proper diet and exercise is encouraged to maintain health and strength. What kind of preventative care is offered? Ensure that health problems are being actively avoided, rather than just treated.
Home Services – At a certain age the typical household duties can become more challenging. Find out what types of cleaning, laundry and cooking services will be available to your loved one at this assisted living community. What about transportation? Does the community facilitate access to grocery stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc.?
Quality of Staff – The staff in an assisted living community will be around your loved one all the time. Find out about how and when regular checkups occur, and ask about what kind of assistance they will be providing to your loved one. Be sure that the community is equipped to handle all needs that may arise later on. At the moment, you may only need a basic level of care, but that need may increase as your loved one grows older.
3. Where to Look If You Need Help Covering Costs
Not every family or individual has enough money set aside to pay for assisted living out of private funds. When this happens, there are several options you can look into for help.
Selling a Home - When a senior makes the transition to assisted living, and they are no longer staying in their home, your best bet may be to put that home on the market. Many families choose to pay for assisted living with the profits made from the sale of a house, and indeed these funds can last a long time.
Bridge Loan – A Bridge loan is designed for individuals who need access to assisted living right away, but who are still waiting for a home to sell, or to liquidate their assets in another way. Loans up to $50,000 can be taken out, and they can be repaid later after a home, stocks, bonds, or other assets can be sold.
Veteran's Benefits - The Veterans Administration can pay for assisted living care for veterans and their spouses, especially if the veteran was wounded or disabled in combat. There is also the "Aid and Attendance" program designed to help veterans who were not wounded, but who served at least 90 active days in the military. These benefits can also be extended to a surviving spouse. It is always recommended that you speak with a financial expert to find out how you can maximize these benefits.
Medicaid – If your loved one falls below a certain income level, Medicaid may help cover a portion of their assisted-living costs. Each state has its own set of regulations for how this works, so be sure to look into the process of requesting Medicaid assistance for your own state.
4. Here's What Won't Pay For Assisted Living
Medicare. Many retirees and their loved ones are not entirely clear on how Medicare comes into play. Unfortunately, the answer is "not at all." Medicare benefits cannot be used to pay for assisted living, and knowing that upfront can help you be better prepared to make appropriate financial arrangements.
Paying for assisted living is one of many questions that must be tackled by caregivers looking for the best place for their loved ones. You have a lot of research ahead of you, but the good news is that you also have a lot of choice, and many resources available to help you make the right decision. For more information, click here to download our free guide called 10 Things Family Members Want to Know About 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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