Deciding to move your care recipient from their home can be stressful. Finding the best assisted living facility involves a lot of serious decisions that may take time to plan. Thankfully there are resources to help prepare family caregivers for that step.
Unlike many nursing home facilities, an assisted living facility provides personalized care in residential living for older adults who need long-term assistance with activites of daily living. The very definition of an assisted living facility is a place that cares for adults who need daily personalized care but have some independence. While most adults in these facilities are elderly, assisted living serves all ages.
Residents have a variety of health, psychological, and physical needs. As such, these facilities attempt to create a more home-like atmosphere that provides medical and social services.
Most facilities include:
There are many benefits to having your loved one in an assisted living facility. They offer residents a safe, comfortable environment to receive the personalized care they need. Caregivers are trained to assist with activities of daily living. Residents maintain some independence and continue to live life to the fullest increasing overall wellness and psychological health.
Many times your care recipient can spend more time with family and friends. Social gatherings offer opportunities for making new friendships. Unfortunately, many traditional nursing facilities have to prioritize efficiency and medical care over providing a safe, home-like environment. For this reason and others, many family caregivers prefer having their care recipient stay in assisted living.
Not everyone can afford the privacy and care of assisted living. Other options include home care or nursing home care. Additionally, many people sell their homes and downsize. They may move to a senior community if they have some independence or move in with family. Additionally, a person near end-of-life may opt for hospice care.
Needless to say, assisted living requires a significant financial commitment. Medicare will not cover long-term assisted living care. The average cost of assisted living can be about $4500 per month, with some facilities costing upwards of $10,000 monthly for private rooms and more luxurious care. This price includes room and board, meals, housekeeping services, laundry, transportation, medication management, and other amenities. The financial breakdown:
Costs differ significantly on a state-by-state basis. The chart below shows average prices based on states in 2022:
The cost of living at an assisted care facility differs based on the overall costs of living in a state, the amenities included, any additional assistance and the amount of medical care your care recipient may require.
Some states offer plans. For example, the New York State's Assisted Living Program (ALP) provides some coverage for licensed assisted living residences. The services are limited to qualified individuals that demonstrate they need 24-hour high-level care.
First of all, if your care recipient is eligible for Social Security benefits, they may be able to apply for Medicaid. Medicaid helps pay for nursing facilities and home health services, which are often less expensive than assisted living facilities. If your care recipient receives Social Security disability payments, they may qualify for Medicare.
Financial discussions can be difficult. Take the time to discuss possible long-term care options with your care recipient. Ask them what they have saved up for retirement or unexpected expenses. Include a financial advisor in the conversation. Meanwhile, you can also take these steps toward planning:
Planning helps immensely, especially in case of emergency. Sometimes a sudden illness or fall drastically changes the situation for your care recipient. Your family caregiver responsibilities might become unmanageable short-term or long-term. For this reason, planning will help you make the best decision for your loved one.
Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care. Some states offer programs to help offset the monthly costs of assisted living for residents who need a continuously high level of care. Residents must apply through their state programs to find out what they are eligible for. Medicare may partially cover short-term hospital stays and other types of care at skilled nursing facilities for up to 100 days per benefit period.
Requirements may include:
Long-term care insurance will provide custodial care for debilitating injuries and chronic illnesses. This includes any extended care your care recipient may need. A long-term care policy will cover everything from adult daycare and hospice services to respite and home health care. Different types of care are available standalone insurance policies and hybrid long-term care packages for elderly adults.
The VA may cover some long-term care benefits. However, the monthly pension may be affected. Enrolled veterans are eligible for services in the home and the community. It is part of the comprehensive VA Medical Benefits Package. Have your care recipient speak with the VA about assisted living costs.
Life insurance policies offer your surviving parent significant income that can be applied to an assisted living facility. Most assisted living expenses are paid out-of-pocket, usually with life insurance settlements.
Reverse mortgages offer the elderly a way to pay for assisted living facilities. The proceeds from a reverse mortgage do not have restrictions, meaning the money can be used for long-term care. However, often a reverse mortgage negatively affects one's assets upon passing. Surviving families may find out that they lost a family home. Speak with your care recipient and a trusted financial advisor about the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage.
Another option, the bridge loan, involves taking out a short-term loan when transitioning between selling the home and moving to a facility. Bridge loans are costly, as they involve a high-interest rate and costs, and it is a risky loan option for both parties.
While assisted living facilities provide long-term senior living options, most residents stay only for two to three years. They may leave for several reasons. For example, they may run out of funds and need to move to a less expensive facility. A resident may move in with family, pass away, or require hospice care. Consider the cost of keeping your loved one in the facility for at least a few years when planning for assisted living.
Assisted living communities provide an incredibly comfortable option for residents. Planning will save significant stress if your loved one wants to live in these facilities. Many times situations can change with a single illness or fall.
Chat with your care recipients about their long-term care plans and start financially planning for this financial expense. This is a large step with significant emotional and long-term ramifications. Read up on financial resources to find out what option would be best for your care recipient.