Step 1: Get Everyone Involved
In many families, there’s not just one person responsible for caring for a senior loved one. There is a team of caregivers managing care and financial responsibilities. So, to make the transition to a senior living facility easier, get everyone involved in the decision-making process, especially the senior themselves! Having an honest conversation will take the pressure off one person’s shoulders and encourage input from everyone in the family. It’s much better to have an open dialogue in the beginning instead of having to shift gears midway in the decision-making process.
Worried about not being on the same page as your siblings when it comes to your parent’s care? If this sounds like you, consider reading our free eBook, “The Essential Caregiver’s Guide.”
In this resource, you’ll learn:
- Important things you need to know about senior caregiving and the options that are available
- What plans you should have in place for aging parents
- Who should take on the care of Mom, Dad or other family members
- Ways to educate yourself to make the best caregiving decisions and be the best caregiver you can be for your loved one
Step 2: Set a Budget
As with any big financial decision, it’s smart to evaluate your budget, first. Look at your aging loved one’s finances and determine what assisted living costs you can comfortably afford. Take a look at the value of their home (if they own one), income from Social Security and/or pensions, and whether they have a long-term care policy.
Next, look at their current expenses. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you calculate how much it’s currently costing your loved one to live at home. You’ll want to consider rent/mortgage, meals, property taxes, home repairs, and recreation and social activities, just to name a few. Then, you’ll be able to compare this total cost to the cost of a senior living community. For a convenient worksheet on comparing your costs, download our “Cost of Living Comparison” worksheet.
Some families decide to chip in on the cost of assisted living, if your loved one’s finances don’t totally cover the cost. Before you start looking for the right home, talk to the other members of your family and see who is willing to contribute and what amount they are comfortable giving.
Step 3: Determine Financial Help
You might look at your budget and wonder if you can afford to pay for a top-tier assisted living community. Don’t worry! There are a number of financial assistance options available to help your loved one pay for the cost of senior living.
These financial paths could range from:
- Private Pay (remember: does your loved one have a house to sell?)
- Veteran and Disability Benefits
- Bridge Loans
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Line of Credit
- Supplemental Security Income
- Subsidized Housing – The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Research what options are available, and if applicable, factor them into your loved one’s budget. For a more in-depth breakdown of the financial options above, read “Your Guide to Planning and Paying for Assisted Living.”
Step 4: Essential Amenities
Once you’re past the financial logistics, you’re on to the fun part. Sit down with your aging loved one and write down all of their needs and wants for a senior living community.
Ask yourself these questions (among other considerations):
- Does your loved one need help managing their medications?
- Do they need assistance getting dressed or showering?
- Can they move around comfortably on their own?
- Are they able to cook and clean independently?
- Do they have dementia or any other memory impairment?
With this list, you can evaluate affordable senior housing based on your loved one’s need, and you can include a few nice-to-have amenities (such as an on-site hair salon, free transportation or affiliations with local hospitals or doctors), as well!
Step 5: Reach Out to a Care Counselor
Now, it’s time to start reaching out to communities in your area. Find a couple communities you would like to learn more about and contact their senior care counselors who can answer your questions. UMH senior care counselors are free to talk to and if they can’t answer your specific questions on how to pay for assisted living, they can point you in the right direction. Their main objective is to make sure your loved one finds the perfect senior living community, based on their needs, desires and finances.
Step 6: Schedule a Tour
After you’ve narrowed down your picks for a senior living community, schedule a few tours. There’s no better way to evaluate a community than to see it in person. Your loved one will have a chance to see the community for himself or herself, and they’re sure to feel more comfortable about their choice.
Nervous to get out there and start touring? Understandable! You may not know what to expect, what questions to ask and don’t want to be pressured into making a decision on the spot. We've detailed essential questions and considerations in our resource, “The Essential Guide to Touring a Senior Living Community.”
Step 7: Compare ALL your Options
All you have left is to compile the information you’ve gathered and compare your options. Which community is the best choice both personally and financially for your loved one? Compare your options carefully and choose the one that you believe offers the best care and value for the price.
The best way to ensure you’re making the right decision is with a trial stay. This opportunity allows your loved one to stay in a senior living community for a few weeks and see if it could be their next home. When you’re comparing your options, a trial stay is a smart step to ensure you have a full picture and taste of the facility. Ask your community of interest if they offer a trial stay. If they don’t, ask them about other ways your loved one can experience the community firsthand without having to make a long-term commitment.