Massachusetts September 30, 2022

Navigating the World of Senior Living – Continued

Aging in Place

In a perfect world, many people would opt to age in place – either in a home, they have occupied and loved for years or in a downsized single-family home, condominium, or 55+ community. Saying farewell to things like multi-floor living and outdoor maintenance is a significant first step toward a simplified life, and for many seniors, that is as far as they will ever need to go. In the real world, however, life can interfere with and derail even the best-laid plans. Health and financial issues often force seniors into unwanted changes when it is not convenient. The best strategy is always to have a plan B in place if aging in place does not work out.

Assisted Living

The goal of assisted living is to provide a safe and secure homelike environment for those who require assistance with everyday tasks – everything from dressing, bathing, and eating to administering and monitoring medications. Assisted living facilities are subject to state and local licensing requirements and ongoing oversight. Residents have apartments or rooms which vary in size, amenities, and cost. Communal dining is encouraged, and many assisted living homes offer a culinary experience comparable to a fine-dining restaurant with dietician-approved menus. Nurses and doctors visit the residents on regular schedules and are available on a 24-hour basis in the event of an emergency.

The facility’s personal and medical assistance level will vary according to a resident’s needs. For example, those with dementia will require a higher level of support, and these residents typically reside in a separate space within the home. For those who are able, independence is encouraged, but services are available when and if they are needed.

Perhaps the most significant advantage of assisted living, in addition to the security it affords residents and their families, is the relief from social isolation and loneliness that plagues many older Americans. It offers them a new kind of home where they can thrive in the company of their generational peers, participate in recreational activities in line with their abilities and receive personalized medical attention around the clock.

Independent Living

Independent living is an option for older adults who can still manage the everyday details of their lives but are looking to decrease responsibilities, minimize stress and focus on enjoyment. Many residents in independent living still cook, drive, vacation, work out daily, and pursue hobbies. The cost is less than assisted living since residents can function independently. The critical advantage is knowing help is there when needed.

Nursing Home Care

Nobody looks forward to life in a long-term nursing home, and the cost of full-time care in such a facility can be pretty high. Unfortunately, families find themselves in situations where full-time nursing care is required. It would be wise to investigate the nursing home options in your area before anyone in your family needs one. Around-the-clock in-home care may be a viable alternative to investigate if circumstances permit.

Continuum of Care

In the world of senior living, a continuum of care is a concept that permits seniors to transition easily from one level of care to another as their needs evolve while remaining in the same residential community.

Payment Options

There is no sidestepping the fact that the cost of care is expensive, but so is the price of living on your own. The monthly fees for home ownership and rent are not cheap. There are still mortgage payments, rent, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance (interior and exterior), HOA fees, and food. Genworth Financial reports that the national median cost of assisted living in 2021 was $4500 per month, but many states run significantly higher. In any event, it may be helpful to prepare a spreadsheet of the cost of living on your own to compare against the cost of assisted or independent living. Once you add up everything you will no longer be paying for, the initial sticker shock of assisted living may wear off.

Depending on the facility, some contracts for payment involve significant up-front deposits or “buy-ins” plus monthly fees (which may be refundable or non-refundable). In contrast, others are structured around higher monthly fees with zero or minimal up-front charges. Be careful to review the fine print before signing anything, and consider employing the services of an elder attorney to ensure adequate protection for you or your loved one.

Medicare will help pay for nursing home care and, in limited cases, in-home care but will not contribute to the cost of independent living or assisted living facilities. Many assisted living residents pay for their room and board and adjunct services with their retirement savings, social security, home sale proceeds, and help from family members. Purchasing a Long-Term Care Insurance policy before the need for assistance arrives is probably the best way to offset a large chunk of assisted living costs.

Once a resident’s resources are depleted, help may be available through Medicaid. Qualifying for Medicaid is a tricky process that is best initiated with the help of a lawyer and accountant familiar with its intricacies. Financial assistance is also available for veterans and their spouses under certain circumstances.

While choosing the right housing option for your golden years is a very personal decision, it also impacts the entire family. None of us can predict what the future holds without a crystal ball. The best approach is to do your homework, understand what is available in your locale and make a plan that fits your needs and finances while you still enjoy a sound mind and body. Otherwise, someone else may be forced to make tough decisions on your behalf.

Admittedly, discussions on assisted living can be exceedingly difficult to initiate. Fear and denial have a lot to do with this. Parents fear being a burden on their children, and children fear offending their parents with any conversation that touches on physical and cognitive decline. However, discussing your ideas, fears, and concerns with your loved ones is never too early. And, if you are already 65 or older or in poor health, the time to have that critical conversation is now. Discussing your plans with a more aged care attorney or accountant is also a good idea. A quick consultation with the right professionals can save you thousands of dollars overall.

One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is to make their long-term plan for the end stages of life long before the time arrives so that children are not put in the unenviable position of making the tough choices on their parents’ behalf in the event of a life-changing medical crisis.

What Is Emergency Housing and How Can Seniors Find It?

Homeless seniors face more risks than those who reside at home or in long-term care facilities. Thankfully, there are programs available throughout the country to help homeless seniors find stable housing and meet other basic needs. Below, we provide information about these programs and how to find help.

There are several options when it comes to emergency housing. While some programs provide emergency cash to help those facing eviction or homelessness to pay rent and utilities, others offer shelter to those who are already without a safe place to stay.

Seniors can usually find emergency housing by contacting their city’s government offices, local social services departments, hospitals and churches for help. See the link below for information on Federal programs to assisst with emergency housing for seniors and senior Veterans.

Senior Moving

While relocating is never easy, moving as a senior carries its own difficulties. If you or a loved one is moving into an assisted living or memory care facility due to declining health, the very reason for the move will likely make the process even more difficult.

Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, you should consider many factors in choosing a new place to live, including safety features, convenience, and whether your abilities may decrease and care needs increase over time.

But no matter what amount of space you downsize to, the feel is what’s most important, says Rob Krohn, the franchise marketing manager at Epcon Communities, a builder of 55-plus communities. He cautions against settling for a property that doesn’t feel comfortable.

“You want your new, downsized space to feel like home, even if it’s smaller than what you’ve be used to for years,” he says.

Below, we outline some of the to

For more information on Senior Living, access the links below.

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