Senior Living Tips: The Ultimate Guide

We know that finding a housing and care solution for your aging loved one is at the top of your priority list.

But where do you start?

There is an overabundance of information available online these days making it an overwhelming task to find the answers you desperately need. There are numerous pamphlets, downloads, and libraries of terms available, but they might as well be in textbook form for all the work it takes to read through them.

We want to make it easy for you.

Here’s a concise and helpful guide of senior living tips without all the excess jargon and explanations you don’t have time for. We hope this will kickstart the journey of finding comfort and relief for both you and your loved one.

Let’s get started!

TIP #1 –  DECIDE WHO HAS A SAY

First of all, ask yourself who needs to be involved in the decision-making process. You’ll save yourself a ton of time, turmoil and arguments right from the get-go if you keep the conversation whittled down to only the people who must have a say in the matter.

To avoid including people who will only clog up the process with opinions and emotions, try using these questions as filters:

  • Is this person directly related?
  • Have they been – or will they be – investing time or money into the care of your aging loved one?
  • Have they been actively participating in the workload of caring for your loved one thus far?
  • Are they committed to visiting your loved one or will they most likely be too busy?

These questions will help you clarify which friends or family members will either be helpful or harmful to the decision-making process.

Remember, it is best to draw the line over who has a say from the start so that when it comes to making the best decision for your elderly parent or grandparent, unnecessary voices are not clouding the decision.

TIP#2 – ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR LOVED ONE’S FEELINGS

There’s no way around it: this is an emotional process. There are going to be feelings involved. Whether it is you or your loved one, this transition is often difficult and emotions are to be expected – rather than ignored.

Think about it. Your elderly sibling, parent or grandparent will be experiencing several types of loss:

  • Loss of a home.
  • Loss of proximity to where all their memories were made.
  • Loss of daily interaction with family members.
  • Loss of their familiar schedule of activities.
  • Loss of a neighborhood and faces they are used to seeing every day or week.

Even if change is for the good, change always includes some sort of loss, and loss brings along the conflicting emotions of grief.

Here’s a key to navigating your loved one’s intense emotions: validate them.

This doesn’t mean that you are swayed from making your decisions when you’re dealing with feelings of loss and grief. That will most likely be unavoidable. But your loved one will be more willing to move forward with necessary changes if they feel validated.

This means you need to do 2 things:

  1. Take the time to listen to your elderly loved one express how they are feeling without interruption or justification.
  2. Once they have shared, reassure them that their feelings have been heard and are valid by nodding, verbally validating them, and/or offering a warm embrace.

Things to avoid while they are expressing their feelings about a difficult transition:

  • Interrupting them
  • Explaining why things need to change
  • Telling them that other people have it worse
  • Asking them to just be strong and ignore their grief

Whether or not these things are true, they will prevent your loved one from feeling heard and validated. There will be a time to discuss with them why things need to change or other factors, but doing so while they are sharing how they feel is not the time.

The likely result of validating your loved one’s feelings:

  • They’ll be much more compliant in the discussion and process of transitioning to senior living. Once they see that their thoughts and feelings are not being overlooked, they’ll be more likely to hear and work with what you have to say.
  • This will not only help care for your loved one’s heart during this difficult time, it will also make the hard decision-making discussions much easier for everyone.

TIP#3 – WEIGH THE FINANCIAL COST vs THE TIME/ENERGY COST

One of the biggest issues when it comes to assisted living is the price tag. Most people simply look at the numbers and forget to weigh in the amount of time or energy an assisted living establishment may save them.

Some questions to help you determine whether home care or assisted living is the best option for your situation are:

  • Is there someone in our circle who has the necessary skills, time, energy, and willingness to care for our loved one?
  • Will an assisted living arrangement free me up to earn more money which can help ensure a better life for my loved one?
  • Will I be more valuable and enjoyable to my loved one as a their care-taker or as caring visitor?
  • Do all the costs of keeping my loved one at home truly add up to less than an assisted living option?

Working through these questions will help you decide whether it would be more beneficial to care for your loved one at home or to transition them to an assisted living home.

Sometimes what seems like the cheaper option will actually cost you more in time, physical exertion, emotional strain, and even finances.

TIP#4 – CLARIFY NEEDS vs WANTS

Finding the ideal living situation for your elderly parent or grandparent will be much easier if you write out a list of things that your loved one absolutely needs, versus the things that they would prefer.

That isn’t to say they won’t find things that they desire in their new living situation, it simply means that you will check off the items on your “needs” list first before you start looking at the “wants” list.

Here’s some things you probably want on your “needs” list:

  • Care services specific to your loved one: daily assistance, memory care, physical therapy, etc.
  • Specific dietary needs can be accommodated
  • Specific cost that you can’t go above
  • Quality of care

On your loved one’s “wants” list you may add things such as:

  • Activities: group outings, exercise classes, clubs, etc.
  • Amenities: pool, sauna, hair salon, etc.
  • Apartment size: studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, etc.
  • Location: climate, proximity to loved ones, outdoor atmosphere, etc.

elderly woman doing tai chi

Depending  on your situation, some of the items on the “wants” list may actually be a “need” and vice versa. This is just a basic format to get you thinking about what would be “deal breakers” for a facility, and what you might be able to adapt to if necessary.

TIP#5 – LOOK INTO ALL FUNDING OPTIONS

Most people will fund their loved one’s assisted living through personal funds or savings, but for many this simply isn’t an option. Before you start touring facilities, it is helpful to already have a good idea of all the funding options available, and have plan in place for how you will pay for the care.

Here are some funding options for senior living:

  • Family Funds: Many seniors have savings or retirement funds for assisted living costs, but if this isn’t enough, family members often pool resources to pay for their loved one’s care.
  • Selling Assets: Moving into assisted living may mean that your elderly parent’s home or property is being vacated. This property, as well as other major assets such as vehicles, boats, and stocks, can all be sold to help fund senior living care.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Unfortunately very few people think about this option in time. According to the American Association for Long Term Insurance, the prices of these policies are directly related to a person’s health and age when they apply. In order to receive a policy that will actually be cost-effective, it is important to find a care plan as early one’s 50s.
  • Veteran Benefits: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers some benefits for those who have served, and sometimes even for widowed wartime spouses. If your loved one served their country it is worth looking into whether any of these Aid and Attendance benefits apply to them.
  • Reverse Mortgage: This option allows you to get a loan based on your home equity, and is paid back once you sell the property. However a reverse mortgage requires that you live in the home while the loan is in effect, so this option is primarily useful for aging couples where one spouse needs to live in assisted living and the other is able to remain at home.
  • Selling a Life-Insurance Policy: A little known option is selling a life-insurance policy, also known as “life settlement.” This basically means that another person or company buys your policy from you and continues to pay the premiums, then receives the benefit when you pass away. Be sure to clarify the effect this will have on your family before choosing this route.

TIP#6 – USE A CHECKLIST WHEN TOURING FACILITIES

This tip is often overlooked but can save you a lot of frustration and confusion when trying to choose an assisted living facility. The last thing you want is to go through the whole process of paying, moving and adjusting, only to discover something about the facility that could cause real issues for your loved one.

Using a helpful checklist can guide you through every tour and assure you and your loved one that the facility you choose has the quality and services necessary.

checklist

Here’s some tips before you even schedule the tour:

  • Map out the facilities to visit: You can save yourself a lot of time and mileage by doing some research online before ever venturing out to tour a facility. Spend some time researching the facilities in your preferred area, then look for reviews of these facilities. You should be able to narrow down your list to 3-5 facilities to visit just by looking over the reviews and comments of residents and their family members.
  • Schedule the visit during a community event: This gives you the advantage of seeing for yourself what the community and social interaction is like at each facility. Many of the residents will be around for your loved one to meet, and they’ll get an idea of the new friends they could make, as well as how well events and activities are organized.
  • Make a surprise visit: During the initial visit the facility will be on their best behavior and ready for people from the outside to see their mode of operation. But if you’ve already had one tour and think this might be the right facility, find at least one other time to stop in unannounced. This will only confirm whether the facility is at their best 24 hours a day, or whether they simply up their game for tours in order to book new residents.

Once you’ve done the research and made a list of senior living communities to visit, here are some items to add to your checklist so that you can compare your top facilities:

  • Are you greeted by the staff?
  • Are the interactions between the staff and residents kind and courteous?
  • Does the staff address residents by name?
  • Are the meals healthy, appetizing and accommodated to seniors’ eating challenges (such as dentures)?
  • Are staff and residents tidy and well-kept?
  • Are residents engaged and interested in activities and interactions?
  • Is the facility clean and free of stains and odors?

Once you’ve worked through the questions that you can answer for yourself, here are some to pose to the staff member helping you along your tour:

  • What type of activities are offered, and how frequently?
  • Do residents have individual care plans established and tended to?
  • Are there resident or frequently visiting physicians?
  • How are medical emergencies handled?
  • Is there an appeals process for resident concerns?
  • How are outside care provider appointments handled?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • Does the facility require renter’s insurance?
  • Are there any move-in specials or other financial incentives?
  • What exactly is included in the monthly fee?
  • Are there any services or utilities not included in the monthly fee?

Aside from observation and asking the staff valuable questions, it may be worth the time to strike up a conversation with some of the residents.

For instance:

Ask about their experience with the facility and the staff. It’ll be easy to tell whether they are truly enjoying their stay, or whether they are less than enthused with their experience. This may just be the best indicator of the facility’s quality and effectiveness.

Remember, the more research you do, questions you ask, and observations you make beforehand, the less unhappy surprises you’ll find once you’ve already signed an agreement or gone through a laborious moving process. Taking care of the details and your loved one’s feelings up front will help smooth the process, and set you up to sustain a healthy and enjoyable plan for everyone involved.

Use these tips to find a senior living option that both you and your loved one are confident in and happy with, and that protect the health, finances, and relationships that matter most.

Stages of Dementia – What You Need To Know

What Is Dementia

Dementia refers to a group of diseases that cause the decline of mental functions or the loss of memory. These conditions gradually progress over time, but their progression may be slow or rapid depending on the person or the type of dementia they’ve been diagnosed with. There is no clear way to prevent dementia, but spotting it early can help protect you or your loved one from harmful accidents, and provide you with plenty of time to consult a professional on the best long-term plan.

Types of Dementia

There are many different types of dementia, and the symptoms and progression will depend largely on which type a person is diagnosed with. Sometimes you’ll find a mixture of types of dementia in the same person, but there are a few basic types of dementia that are most commonly diagnosed.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is often mistaken as the only form of dementia, as it is the most common, but it is actually only one type in this group of cognitive diseases. However, Alzheimer’s dementia alone accounts for anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of dementia occurrences.

Alzheimer’s disease generally progresses rather slowly, and those who have it usually live anywhere from four to eight years after diagnosis, but some have lived up to twenty years. This progressive brain disease is considered to begin long before symptoms start to surface, so early detection is difficult. Brain abnormalities that cause Alzheimer’s occur when pieces of protein called beta-amyloid start to gather and clump together inside the brain. This causes as plaque build-up, which can lead to blockage of cell-to-cell signaling and synopsis in the brain. It may also interfere with normal function of the immune system.   

There are many different symptoms tied to Alzheimer’s disease, but general symptoms include:

  • A struggle in recalling recent conversations, people’s names, or life events
  • Lack of motivation or depression
  • Difficulty walking
  • Impaired communication
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of good judgment
  • Frequent confusion
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing

Vascular Dementia

Another type of dementia is referred to as Vascular Dementia. This type of dementia has also been known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia, and accounts for about 10 percent of dementia cases.  Vascular dementia is caused by physical conditions that decrease or obstruct the blood flow to the brain. The lack of necessary oxygen and nutrients that this blockage inflicts results in a decrease in mental faculties. This can be tied to strokes, or be a result of brain injury or bleeding in the brain.

Initial symptoms of Vascular Dementia often include:

  • Difficulty making clear decisions
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulty planning or organizing

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy Bodies – or DLB – is the third most common type of dementia found today, and has many symptoms similar to those in Alzheimer’s. One clear factor that is unlike Alzheimer’s, however, is that symptoms of sleep disturbance and hallucinations are more prominent in the early stages of DLB.

This type of dementia is attributed to brain damages incurred by abnormal microscopic deposits over time. Other diseases that have included the presence of lewy bodies are Alzheimer’s disease as well as Parkinson’s Disease, and there are many similar symptoms that may be found between Parkinson’s and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Symptoms of DLB can include:

  • Decline in thinking
  • Decline in independent function        
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Rigid muscles
  • A shuffling walk
  • Difficulty initiating movement
  • Hallucinations
  • Hunched posture

Mixed Dementia

Mixed Dementia occurs when abnormalities of two or more memory diseases are found in the brain, and can also be referred to as “Dementia – Multifactorial.” This most commonly involves the combination of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, but can include other combinations of dementia as well. There may even be cases when all three of the aforementioned disorders coexist, with Alzheimer’s brain abnormalities, blood vessel dysfunction, and Lewy bodies all at work.

Symptoms of mixed Dementia may be hard to distinguish from one of the previously mentioned types of dementia, or may be a unique combination of several of them.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s disease is not in itself a type of dementia, but as it progresses it often leads to dementia similar to Alzheimer’s or DLB. The abnormalities caused in Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are usually closely related to the affect of Lewy bodies, similar to what is found in DLB.

Symptoms often found in Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are:

  • Memory changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty understanding visual information
  • Muffled speech
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • REM sleep disorder

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) also known as Pick’s Disease, occurs when the brain’s frontal lobes or temporal lobes suffer nerve cell loss. Unlike DLB there is no sign of microscopic abnormality that links cases of FTD, and it generally affects people much younger than those with most other dementia disorders, often starting around the age of 60.

There are several variations of Frontotemporal Dementia, including Behavior Varient Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD), and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). Depending on the type of FTD, symptoms may include:

  • Muscle weakness or wasting
  • Stiff limbs
  • Difficulty walking
  • Impaired speech
  • Impaired judgment
  • Personality changes

Rare Dementia Types

Much rarer types of dementia diseases include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Normal Pressure Hydrochephalus and Wernicke-Korsakoff Sydrome.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is the most common form of a group of diseases known as prion diseases, which cause rare and fatal brain disorders. This disease is caused when the prion protein in the body takes an abnormal shape, which triggers the same abnormality in the prion protein’s in the brain. This transformation causes brain damage with symptoms such as, decline in thinking,

involuntary muscle movement, confusion, and mood changes.

Huntington’s disease is caused by a defective gene on chromosome four, and may cause symptoms such as depression, decline in reasoning skills, irritability, and other mood changes.

Normal Pressure Hydrochephalus is caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulation, and affects walking ability, clarity of thought, and bladdar control.

Dementia Tests

There are several ways that physicians may test a patient to ascertain whether they have a cognitive disease. Some of the most prominent tests used to assess dementia are:

  • Mini-mental state examination (MMSE)
  • Mini-Cog test

Once the test has been administered a physician will assign a Clinical Dementia Rating which defines what stage of dementia a person is in. The different scores include:

  • 0 for normal
  • 0.5 for very mild dementia
  • 1 for mild dementia
  • 2 for moderate dementia
  • 3 for severe dementia

Though there are only 5 scores in the Clinical Dementia Rating, most health professionals discuss the stages of dementia using the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) (also known as the Reisberg Scale) which includes a total of seven stages of cognitive ability. Surprisingly the first three stages of symptoms that set the base for the scale don’t necessarily indicate dementia at all.

Stages of Dementia

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

This stage is the base where normal and healthy people fall in the scale categories. People in stage one have no memory loss and are considered to be mentally strong and healthy.

Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline

Most elderly people fall into this category, and there’s no reason to worry about being diagnosed with a type of dementia. Many people naturally lose a little speed and vigor in their mental capabilities as they age, and that’s normal. This stage may include some minor forgetfulness, or misplaced objects.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline

Those in stage three will discover that they have a little harder time concentrating, some difficulty in remembering little things throughout the day, and a decrease in work performance. In conversation, finding the words they want to use may be a little more of a chore, and those close to them may begin to notice a slight difference in their cognitive state. This stage may be an indicator that dementia could set in within seven years or so.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline

Stage four is considered the early stages of dementia. In this stage people have a hard time recalling recent events, have difficulty concentrating, and may struggle with tasks that take a lot of thought. Travelling alone may become stressful, and they may start to withdraw from social activities because the interaction has become challenging. In this stage people are often resistant in acknowledging their symptoms, but a physician can usually spot cognitive problems even during a consultation. This stage may last about two years.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

This mid-stage of dementia usually lasts around a year, and has many more obvious symptoms. At this point most people will begin to require some assistance with tasks throughout the day. Activities such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals will necessitate some level of help, and memory loss may include important and common information such as their home address, the time of day, or even their current location.

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline

This is also considered a mid-stage of dementia, and will usually last a little over two years. A greater amount of daily assistance will be necessary in this stage. People in stage six usually have difficulty counting, may forget names of close family members and friends, and will generally forget even recent events. Memory of their early lives is all but faded, and difficulty with bodily functions such as bladder control may set in. Ability to speak decreases, personality changes may also occur, and delusions and odd compulsions such as repeating simple behaviors may surface.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline

Those who reach stage seven have little ability to do anything on their own- even walking. Communication is nearly extinguished, and even activities such as eating and using the bathroom require constant assistance. This phase usually lasts a couple years or so.

Action Steps

There is currently no cure for dementia, but you and those you love can help prevent the risk of dementia by taking these action steps:

  • Stay active: This doesn’t have to consist of intense workouts, but consistent exercise throughout the week promotes brain health as much as overall physical well being.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Eating foods that are high in antioxidants may prevent the effect of free radical chemicals that damage brain cells. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include green teas, blueberries, cranberries, and other vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid activities that may risk head trauma: Avoid sports that may incur consistent impact to the head, and when engaging in high-intensity or higher-risk activities, always wear the necessary protective headgear.
  • Engage in mental games and activities: Activities such as crosswords puzzles, sudoku, board games, or learning a musical instrument all engage the brain and help keep it active and healthy.
  • Include social interactions in the weekly schedule: Seniors who isolate themselves may have a much higher risk of dementia, so keeping a consistent schedule of social activities can help prevent cognitive decline.

If you are already starting to recognize some symptoms of dementia in yourself or someone you love, there are some easy steps to get a better understanding of what you may be facing, and where to get the right care:

  • Self-monitor mental clarity by keeping a journal of the day’s events
  • Set up regular check ups with a personal physician
  • Follow doctor’s instructions if advised to see a neurologist or psychiatrist
  • Discuss the cognitive stage with family and make a care plan in advance

Conclusion

Thankfully healthcare has made great advancements over the years in the area of memory care, so there are many different options to choose from as you start to make your plans for the future. Whether it’s in-home care or an assisted living facility that is equipped for memory care residents, deciding early will make the process easier on everyone involved.

Because dementia takes very different courses with each person, it is very hard to know exactly how it will affect your life, but it’s always best to be prepared. Making a plan now will save you or your family money and stress, and make each year to come peaceful and meaningful as possible.

 

6 Warning Signs Your Aging Loved Ones Need Help

“Everything is fine,” said Cassandra’s mom.

But as she looked around her mother’s home, it became clear that things might not be as good as she was letting on. Bills were piling up, food was molding in the refrigerator and there seemed to be a distinct ‘smell’ in the house.

Upon inspecting the fridge further, Cassandra found multiple jars of the same item in different states of decomposition.

That’s when she knew that living alone had become challenging for her mother.

Much like anyone else, aging loved ones value their freedom. Asking for help inherently means that they would lose part of this freedom.

Here are 6 telltale signs that your aging loved ones might need help:

  • Forgetting to take medication and forgetting to pay bills – This can be dangerous because missing too many doses can lead to a host of other problems for your loved one. Forgetting to pay bills can be a compounding liability that ultimately might fall on your shoulders.
  • Poor hygiene – If your loved one is continually wearing the same outfit while developing a distinct smell, it’s a sign that they might need help. Other signs can include a strong smell of urine in the house and an overall increase in clutter (especially a dangerous sign if they are typically neat and clean).
  • Poor diet – if you see unexplained weight loss and a lack of a balanced diet in their home, it’s a sign that taking care of themselves might be getting more difficult.
  • Unexplained bruising – Although elders tend to bruise easier, it could be a sign that they have fallen and haven’t told you about it. Keep an eye out for this one.
  • Phone calls at odd hours – When a loved one calls friends or family during weird times, it can be a sign of memory loss or a clear call for help. One solution to this might be scheduling a daily phone call and frequent visits to ‘check-in’
  • Lost of interest in hobbies – This can be a sign of depression. Isolation and depression can cause drastic changes in an individual.

It’s not so black and white

Chances are it’s not as simple as moving your loved one into a senior home. There are likely a few factors at play here:

  • Not sure what to do – Most people don’t think about senior homes until the last minute. And by that time, it’s extra stressful because all the problems have ballooned up into an overwhelming monster to tackle. When you have to think about costs, logistics, finding the right place, insurance and more, it can be easy to fall into analysis paralysis.
  • Not enough time to research – Your own life is likely swamped: your significant other, kids (perhaps even grandkids), your job and a whole host of other responsibilities. And now you’ve been tasked with the not so simple task of learning all about the nuances of senior living.
  • No money – Caregivers typically cost $19/hr or more. Multiply that by a 24 hour period and that’s $456 a day. Over a 30 day period, that’s over $13,680! Assisted living typically averages $3,000/mo depending on the state that you’re in. Most people can’t afford that kind of money. Often times, the money issue can be a non-starter. But there are ways around this (such as veterans benefits; feel free to ask us for more information).
  • Unsure of living situations – Who the heck wants to move away from their own beloved home? Nobody. And you can bet that nobody wants to live in a senior home. It makes perfect sense to be skeptical of the standard of living at senior homes. But in today’s day and age where reviews can make or break a business, there IS quality living out there (believe it or not).

What to do next

With so many options stacking on top of your already busy life, the question is ‘what are the best next steps?’.

Great question.

There are many options that will make a significant impact on older adults. It’s just a matter of figuring out what makes the most sense for your loved one based on their specific needs. Remember, everyone is different and it’s a good idea to gain an understanding of the pros and cons of each solution.

Senior Living – According to the Administration for Community Living, there were 44.7 million people over the age of 65 in the United States in 2013. This is a number projected to double to 98 million in 2060.

When it comes to senior living, there are many options including (but not limited to):

  • Independent living communities
  • Assisted living
  • Nursing homes
  • Alzheimer’s care
  • Residential care homes
  • Respite care

Caregivers – In many cases, aging loved ones may only need a little extra help from loved ones in areas such as meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation and personal care. In-home caregivers are a great solution to this. Just make sure you have a thorough interview and background check procedure.

Move closer to your loved ones – If budgets are tight or there isn’t a need to take a look at the above options yet, moving closer will allow you easier access to care for them.

Conclusion

If any of the signs above have started to manifest, it may be time to start looking at care options. This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to move out or do anything drastic. It all depends on what the current situation looks like. Remember, this is a very emotional, delicate situation that needs to be approached with care.

We get it. It can be stressful. Feel free to talk to our advisors if you need some guidance. There’s no charge.

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The True Cost of Assisted Living for Your Aging Loved Ones

We get it. The cost of assisted living usually comes out of the blue, and with a bigger price tag than expected.

Or is it?

The truth is, there are many large expenses that assisted living will actually REMOVE from your plate…expenses that also cost you time- and as we all know- time is money.

Here we’ll show you the true cost of assisted living, and how it might just be lower that you expected.

A Fresh Outlook That Saves You Money

We’ve all heard the term “count the cost.” It encourages us to look at the facts, examine all angles, and get a full picture of what we may be signing up for.

Decisions have consequences, and good consequences can come from decisions made with:

  • Research
  • Planning
  • Insight

When it comes to assisted living, planning ahead will allow plenty of time to get all the information to make the best decision possible. So even if you think that assisted living might be miles down the road, now is the best time to get the information, make a plan, and make the decision.

Think about it. Counting the cost doesn’t simply refer to assessing a monetary value. There are many other things in your life that require a “cost.” We don’t simply pay in dollars, we also pay in our time, our health, or even in our relationships.

So when you count the cost for senior care, it doesn’t only affect your bank account; it involves your time, your health, and the wellbeing and relationships of your family.

For instance, it could easily seem most cost effective to keep your loved one at home instead of paying for an assisted living facility wouldn’t it?

But here’s the reality. Taking care of the senior you love may fall heavily on you (or another family member) and end up costing you more than you anticipated in your own health and time.

And your well being isn’t all that’s at risk. If your loved one actually requires more experienced care than you’re able to offer, more health issues may arise, which will end up costing their health, and your bank.

It’s the same concept as buying cheap processed food versus more pricey health foods.What you save now by buying junk-food, you’ll pay later – and greater – in medical bills.

So as you are calculating the true cost of assisted living for your location and situation, don’t forget to asses the non-monetary factors as well.

Choose the option that is best for your loved one and everyone involved – including yourself.

That being said, the fact of the matter is money remains a huge factor in all of our decisions, and it often holds the greatest sway. There’s no denying that it can be a real issue when it comes to finding the right living situation for the one you love, but there are ways to be prepared and make educated decisions that will save you money.

Here is some valuable information that may help you out in your process.

Let the Location Cut Your Costs

It helps to have an idea of how much assisted living costs across the country.

As with any housing rates, you’ll find that location can play a huge role on the price of assisted living. Getting a look at the prices of assisted living depending on the state may help you find the most cost-effective option for your loved one and your family.

We understand. Keeping them close may be a priority.

But have you thought about this?

Relocating them closer to family members in another state with lower costs may save you both money – and at the same time – provide them the chance to be near family they haven’t yet had the opportunity to get close to.

Here’s a useful tool: Genworth released a helpful 2016 Cost of Care spreadsheet to show the average prices of care in each US state, with most states averaging around 3,628.

Use this excerpt to easily cross-reference the average cost in each state:

LOCATION
USA ­— National $3,628
Alabama $2,900
Alaska $5,750
Arizona $3,500
Arkansas $3,133
California $4,000
Colorado $4,063
Connecticut $4,950
Delaware $5,368
District of Columbia $6,700
Florida $3,045
Georgia $2,850
Hawaii $4,125
Idaho $3,200
Illinois $3,898
Indiana $3,528
Iowa $3,518
Kansas $3,863
Kentucky $3,300
Louisiana $3,155
Maine $4,991
Maryland $3,750
Massachusetts $5,463
Michigan $3,563
Minnesota $3,200
Mississippi $3,200
Missouri $2,537
Montana $3,513
Nebraska $3,510
Nevada $3,050
New Hampshire $4,800
New Jersey $4,950
New Mexico $3,600
New York $4,136
North Carolina $3,000
North Dakota $3,340
Ohio $3,600
Oklahoma $2,803
Oregon $4,065
Pennsylvania $3,600
Rhode Island $4,931
South Carolina $3,000
South Dakota $3,370
Tennessee $3,780
Texas $3,515
Utah $2,950
Vermont $4,860
Virginia $3,950
Washington $4,500
West Virginia $3,263
Wisconsin $3,934
Wyoming $3,995

How the Facility Absorbs Your Extra Expenses

If you look at the whole spreadsheet, you’ll see that assisted living options generally cost much less than a nursing home- costing as little as half the price!

While it may appear that caregiver services are around the same cost as assisted living, they are actually much more.

Let’s look at why.

Many people take a look at the monthly payment for assisted living and consider it a high price to pay, but usually they are simply comparing it to their rent or mortgage payment.

But here’s the truth: Assisted living facilities include the cost of housing, food, utilities, and basic health services, while caregiver costs only include the care services rendered.

If you added the cost of your housing payment, groceries and utilities onto the price of the caregiver, you get a much larger number than what is listed on the Genworth cost of care spreadsheet.

So here’s the good news: Assisted living facilities provide a wide variety of services and include many expenses that you are currently paying for your loved one on a daily basis.

Look at it this way: Quicken estimates that an average American will spend about 2,110 each month on their budget, but this doesn’t include costly caregiver services, which average in the 3,800 range monthly. So an average monthly budget for one person, on top of caregiver services, would actually add up to close to 6,000 which is almost twice as much as what you’ll pay for an assisted living arrangement.

What the Facility Cost Includes

So what does an assisted living facility usually include?

While the list obviously varies depending on the location and company, most assisted living facilities offer these services and amenities:

  • An apartment unit (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, memory care)
  • Customizable care plans
  • 24 hour staff to assist with daily needs
  • A nurse on staff or on call
  • Three meals a day in a community dining area (sometimes available in-room)
  • Easy-access bathrooms and showers
  • Kitchenettes for self-prepared meals and snacks
  • An emergency alert system for urgent assistance needs
  • Programs for continued learning and growth
  • Amenities such as a computer room, library, movie room
  • Outdoor recreation areas
  • Laundry and trash services
  • Private event rooms for special family celebrations
  • Access for family and friends to visit and join in meals and activities

Services that may require an added fee are:

  • Group outings and social activities
  • Transportation options
  • Errand-running services
  • Visiting therapists and physicians

Tricks for Keeping Facility Costs Low

If the cost is a real issue you are facing, there are a few different factors you can consider while choosing the facility:

Size of Accommodation

Here’re some things to consider: Does your loved one need a large unit, or will a smaller space suit them just fine? As mobility becomes more difficult, having a smaller space may actually be easier to get around.

Think about unnecessary features: Perhaps something like a balcony may seem like an appealing detail, but when you put more thought into it, it may not actually be something your loved one will utilize on a regular basis. These types of unit features might increase the cost of the apartment.

It’s helpful to remember: The entire facility becomes a home for your loved one, so community game rooms, patios, walkways, dining rooms- and more -will be at their disposal whenever they like.

Number of Extra Services

Most facilities have base services and amenities that come with their rate, such as meals, health monitoring, on-site activities, and those listed above.

However, extra services like therapy sessions, salon services, personal transportation, and ambulatory services might bring extra fees.

Most facilities also charge a deposit that will hold a unit prior to move-in, and a community fee that will cover move-in costs and renovations to the apartment between residents.

And this is a good rule to keep in mind: Always make sure you get a clear description of what is included in the base rate, and what would be considered an added fee.

Avoid Surprise Costs

Sit down and assess the types of extra services your loved one will likely require, and properly budget them in.

Top Ways to Pay for Assisted Living

Most people pay for assisted living from family money and personal funds, but sometimes these types of savings just aren’t available.

There are several different routes to explore when looking for ways to help finance your loved one’s assisted living costs:

Long-Term Care Insurance

If you’re starting your preparation far in advance, a great option is long term care insurance.

Here’s why: This insurance is a supplement to what Medicare will not provide, such as long-term care, but you’ll need to start paying into it long before it’s needed. The best option is to start paying in as early as possible. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a 55 year old will spend over 700 a year on a policy if they’re married, and over 1,000 if they’re single.

Medicaid

While Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for any long term assistance facilities, Medicaid does cover some assisted living services in many states, though the terms of eligibility and amount of coverage vary.

That’s not all. There is also the Senior Assisted Living Housing Waiver which provides the option of a community assisted living setting to eligible low income adults.

Housing Subsidies

Seniors with an annual income under 12,000 may be qualified to receive section 8 senior housing subsidies, which can be used to help pay for assisted living facilities costs.

Converting Life Insurance

Life Care Funding Group assists people in converting life insurance policies into financing for assisted living and long-term benefit plans.

Veteran Subsidies

The Department of Veterans Affairs has facilities that offer senior care to Veterans depending on availability of space.

The True Pay Off

We all want to give the best that can be offered for our loved ones.

Assisted living can open up their lives to social interaction with others their age, get them consistent attention from trained staff, and alleviate stress and tension between family members who simply aren’t equipped for the task of being a caregiver.

Not only that, but in an community of other individuals who are in the same season of life, they can find encouragement to continue to engage in things that interest them, and conversations that stimulate their imaginations.

You might still be wondering: Will my loved one ever feel comfortable about the transition?

In assisted living, with everyone at a similar pace of life, and staff to help with burdensome tasks, life will soon find a steady pattern that will make this season of life just as fruitful as all of the seasons before.

So what’s the bottom line?

If you plan ahead, count the cost, and take some time to research and discuss the options, your loved one will see that – from every angle – this is the option that will enrich every family member’s life the most, including their own.

The Complete Guide to Assisted Living

Assisted living provides long-term housing, support services, and accessibility to healthcare for seniors who find it hard to meet their own daily needs. Here you’ll find a clear overview of what assisted living is, and how you can benefit from it. This simple guide will explain what you can generally expect in an assisted living facility, answer some questions people frequently have on the subject, and balance out some pros and cons for your decision-making process.

The topic of Assisted living is rarely an easy one to broach, whether it’s with a parent, a spouse, or even yourself. But like any difficult matter in life, it will only get more difficult and costly if it is neglected or ignored. In the case of getting your loved one the professional care they need, ignorance is not bliss- it’s costly. It can be costly to their health, to your finances, and to the whole family’s emotions and relationships. While the conversation itself may spark some initial hurt feelings, this temporary tension will be small in comparison to the damage of waiting until the last minute to get them care, or worse- waiting until it’s too late.

If you’re still battling with the question of whether this is really a step you need to take, it may help to check out some frequent warning signs that indicate a senior may need help, even if they keep denying it.

Assisted Living Breakdown

With assisted living rising over the last twenty-five years as the primary source of care for seniors in the United States, with more than 735,000 people in assisted living around the nation, it has also grown in it’s variety and availability to the public. With so many options available it’s much easier now to find one that suits the style and preferences of a senior looking to transition, but hopes for a familiar feel to what they had at home.  The average age for residents is around 87, but many transition into assisted living as early as the age of 65 if they foresee they’ll need daily assistance in the near future.

This can be provided in a single home setting, or a multi-unit apartment layout. You’ll find many different styles of facilities, such as those that feel quaint and homey, or others with so many amenities they rival many resorts. Three meals a day are provided in a community dining area, there’s an apartment space for each resident, and staff that are close at hand to help throughout the day.

The top chronic conditions monitored within assisted living settings are high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart disease, and depression. Many facilities have healthcare options on-site, and staff is available around the clock to assist with needs such as medication management, bathing, using the restroom, getting around the facility, dining, and more. Healthcare providers are either on staff or contracted to provide for any medical needs, and sometimes, even therapy services for recovery after injuries or surgery.

Depending on the assisted living facility you choose, you’ll typically find these services and amenities similar to these:

  • An apartment unit (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, memory care)
  • Customizable care plans
  • 24 hour staff to assist with daily needs
  • A nurse on staff or on call
  • Three meals a day in a community dining area (sometimes available in-room)
  • Handicap accessibility
  • Easy-access bathrooms and showers
  • Kitchenettes for self-prepared meals and snacks
  • Visiting therapists and physicians
  • Transportation options
  • Errand-running services
  • Pet friendly units
  • An emergency alert system for urgent assistance needs
  • Programs for continued learning and growth
  • Amenities such as a computer room, library, pool, movie room
  • Outdoor recreation area
  • Group outings and social activities
  • Laundry and trash services

FAQs

What Will It Cost?

According the Genworth.com, the 2016 national median cost of monthly assisted living is $3,628. This is the middle ground rate, so depending on the services and location of each facility you will find many options that cost more or less than this amount. Comparably, nursing homes have a 2016 median cost of $7,698 a month for a private room. In-home caregivers are in the $19 an hour range, which comes out to $456 for a full day, and $13,680 per month. Compared to these options, assisted living is often the most economical choice.

How Can I Pay For This?

Most assisted living costs are paid by personal funds, but many states offer waivers for low-income families who require assisted living options. There are also financing options such as converting life insurance into a long-term care benefit plan. You can also find everything you need to know about housing options here.  

What Does the Base Rate Include?

The cost of assisted living may still sound high until you factor in all the everyday expenses that will be included:

Housing: The monthly fee will include the price of your loved one’s unit, and will take the place of what they paid for rent, mortgage, and even other expenses such as property taxes.

Meals: The time, energy, and money that go into preparing three healthy meals a day can add up fast. This would be a huge load off of anyone’s plate, but especially those who are advancing in years.

Utilities: Basic utilities such as water, power, trash, AC and heat, are all usually included, and occasionally even phone and cable.

Household Assistance: Maintenance for the apartment and assistance with daily chores such as trash collection and laundry are usually included in the base rate.

Personal Care: Basic health monitoring and assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, dining, and mobility are all included in the rate for an assisted living home.

Is It Safe?

Regulations for assisted living facilities are determined by the state rather than the federal government, so they may vary depending on which state you reside in. However, all 50 states require that there be 24 hour supervision and assistance provided, and that the care be administered with dignity and respect.

Will My Loved One Feel Fulfilled?

Many people are concerned about whether or not their loved one will be able to lead a fulfilling lifestyle if they are removed from their familiar home, current lifestyle, or close proximity to family. Many assisted living facilities not only provide amenities such as computer rooms, community rooms and libraries on-site, but they also create activity calendars with a wealth of opportunities to gain knowledge and enjoy life. Some facilities even provide access to college classes for continuing intellectual goals, and others take frequent field trips to explore places and sites their residents have always wanted to experience.

Creating a sense of home is another large part of helping seniors adjust to their new living arrangement, so many facilities allow residents to bring certain items of furniture from home to decorate their new space as they like. Many facilities also allow pets, which can be a huge source of love and fulfillment during this challenging transition.

Will They Stay Connected To Family?

Assisted living facilities realize the most important thing to many seniors is continuing to get quality time with their families. Because of this, many establishments invite family members to stop in as often as they like and even join in meals and activities. There are often smaller dining rooms available to be reserved by residents for special family celebrations, and family members love going for walks along the grounds or sitting for a good conversation in the new home. For most assisted living homes, inviting your family to continue as the primary enjoyment in your loved one’s life is a top priority.

What Should I Look For When Choosing A Facility?

  • Find out if the facility is licensed by the proper state governing agency and that all licenses and certifications are current.
  • Review the facility website to see if their philosophy and values match what’s important to you and your loved one.
  • Check for glowing testimonials from residents and family members who have experienced life at that facility.
  • Look up the facility on websites such as Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see if there have been any complaints filed against them.
  • Ask the staff about how emergencies are handled at their facility.
  • Ask about their staff-to-resident ratio to make sure there is plenty of help for each resident.
  • Check on how many staff are on duty in the evening hours.
  • Ask them about the lives and preferences of current residents to determine how closely they interact and relate with each individual.
  • See if there’s a nurse on staff or on call for medical needs.
  • And finally, always take the time to tour the facility, meet the staff, and talk to the residents and family members to see for yourself. Don’t rely on pictures from websites; these can often be stock photography and not even related to that particular establishment you’re reviewing. And no matter how friendly a voice sounds over the phone you still aren’t seeing things with your own eyes.

Here’s more information, as well as a helpful checklist, as you start to review different facilities.

Pros and Cons

As with every major decision in life, you will find both pros and cons when it comes to choosing assisted living. We’ve listed a few of the biggest pros and cons to assisted living to help you out:

Pros

Flexible Care: As time passes and your loved one’s needs begin to change, the assisted living facility and staff is equipped to also change their services as needed. This way their care program is always evolving to match your loved one’s needs and preferences.

24 Hour Assistance: You’ll never have to worry about your loved one being alone if an accident happens, or falling ill with no one to catch the symptoms. Staff is ready around the clock and emergency alert systems are in place so they will be notified as soon as there’s a need.

Professional Assessment: Most people have a limited knowledge of the conditions that seniors face, but with assisted living you wont have to wonder about the extent of your loved one’s needs. The staff will give you a professional opinion on the care your loved one requires.

Less Isolated: Living amongst a community of people in a similar season of life can reinvigorate their engagement with others. In an assisted living atmosphere they’ll find the old joys of their dorm life combined with the matured interests of their golden years.

More Energy: The maintenance of a household can become burdensome to those advancing in years. Assisted living provides housekeeping, laundry, and other services to lift the burden of chores and maintenance off their shoulders. This will preserve their energy throughout the day so they can spend it on time with friends, family, and continuing in their favorite pursuits.

More Privacy: Compared to nursing homes, where they’d only get a room or semi-private room, your loved one will feel a far greater sense of privacy from day to day in their personal apartment.

Cons

Can Be Expensive: Paying for Assisted Living may be more expensive than moving your loved one in with you and taking care of them yourself.

Underestimated Costs: If your loved one needs more care services than you anticipated, extra fees and costs may arise that you didn’t expect.

Difficulty Adjusting: When anyone has been set in a pattern of life for a long time, change in schedule and habits can be difficult. Even going from living alone to living in a group community can be challenging.

Less Privacy: While it has more privacy than a nursing home, it will have arguably less privacy than one may feel living in a house, with family, or in a retirement community.

Independence and Health

At the end of the day, most seniors are desperate to hold onto their sense of independence and the familiarity of their homes. And who can blame them? But there comes a time when other concerns must be brought to the forefront- beyond their feelings of attachment to home and personal definitions of independence: concerns such as whether their isolation is affecting their health, if they’d be able to get up if they take a hard fall, or if they’re able to remember important needs such as medications and paying bills. Not having someone around who knows how to look for acute health symptoms is a serious problem, and studies have shown that seniors are at a much higher risk of mortality if they are living all alone.

These are only a few of the reasons assisted living might actually be the best thing you could do for your loved one. And once they see what it’s truly like, their personal definitions of independence may grow to include their new home, where they have plenty of social interaction, more energy, more motivation, and plenty of opportunities for their families to stay connected to their lives.

Assisted Living 101 [Infographic]

If you’re searching for an Assisted Living facility for yourself or your aging parents, then you know how overwhelming and confusing it can be.

Finding senior care for your loved ones is hard.

That’s why we designed an infographic to make it easy for you to understand one form of senior living called assisted living.

In this infographic, you’ll get the answers to questions like:

  • What exactly is an assisted living facility?
  • What does it cost?
  • Who is it for?
  • How is it different from other senior living options?

More importantly, does Assisted Living offer the services that are necessary for your or your loved one’s specific condition or needs?

This infographic takes all the confusion out of your decision-making process. You’ll find answers to all your inquiries and it provides the most important questions to ask at the facilities that you’re considering.

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Senior Housing Options: Everything You Need To Know

What You Need to Know

Senior Housing Options 70Conversations surrounding senior housing options are rarely comfortable ones. All too often, the mere suggestion of leaving home seems to pit children against their parents – locking both in a struggle between the desire for independence and the choices that are in the best interests for all involved.

And while there’s no easy answer to major life decisions such as these, education can help. By understanding the serious issues faced by seniors in isolation, as well as familiarizing yourself with the numerous – and always-expanding – housing options that are available for those 55 years and older, you’ll be able to approach this delicate conversation from an informed, thoughtful place.

The Growing Problem of Senior Isolation

The question of senior housing is often posed as a pragmatic one. What level of care do seniors require, and who is available to provide it? Is there a child or family member nearby who can assist with care? If not, what financial resources are available to support aging parents?

All too often, seniors’ well-being is left out of the equation. While it’s common for aging adults to want to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible, emerging research described below suggests that they may pay a price due to the isolation inherent in this arrangement. And given that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 28% of people aged 65 and older lived alone (as of 2010), these are critically important concerns all families with aging relatives must consider.

Social isolation and loneliness in adults aged 52 and older are associated with a higher risk of mortality.

According to a 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, living alone puts senior citizens at a higher overall risk of dying from all causes. While there are many possible explanations for this effect, the absence of another housemate who would notice acute health symptoms at their onset is one likely factor.

Loneliness in seniors is correlated with long-term illness.

The same study cited above also associates the following conditions with loneliness and social isolation in seniors: arthritis, impaired mobility, depression and chronic lung disease. A further study published in Psychology and Aging in 2010 identified a direct link between elder isolation and unsafe increases in blood pressure.

Seniors who feel lonely have a higher risk of dementia.

Research conducted by Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has found that feelings of loneliness are correlated with poorer cognitive performance and declines in cognitive function.

Seniors who experience loneliness are more likely to need long-term care.

Interestingly, a 2004 report published by the British Columbia Ministry of Health found that social isolation is one of the top predictors of seniors using home care or entering nursing homes.  

Socially isolated seniors are more vulnerable to elder abuse.

The National Center on Elder Abuse cites a number of studies that demonstrate a link between senior isolation and higher incidences of elder abuse, potentially due to the fact that abusers are able to minimize their risk of discovery while working with isolated patients.

While living independently as a senior isn’t guaranteed to lead to these results, it’s important for families caring for aging elders to be aware of potential health and safety risk factors and to make decisions for their loved ones’ care with a full understanding of the options available.

Senior housing is no longer the institutional monolith it once was: a number of alternatives exist to suit residents at all ends of the care spectrum.

Senior Housing Options

Assisted Living

Senior Housing Options Facilities

What Is It? Assisted living communities represent the next level of care beyond independent senior apartments. Residents of assisted living facilities generally do not require the type of skilled nursing care offered at traditional nursing homes, but do need daily assistance with daily activities such as taking medication, preparing meals and maintaining hygiene. Assisted living facilities typically offer private apartments with kitchenettes, along with a staff that’s available 24 hours a day to support residents social programs, activities and exercises.

What Does It Cost? As in the case of independent senior living, the cost assisted living facilities varies with the amenities provided. Genworth lists the average cost of a one-bedroom assisted living apartment as $3,500 per month. Prices are also determined by whether the community charges a flat fee or “a la carte” prices based on the specific services required (state licensing and regulation requirements often dictate which services and care types can be offered).

Who Is It For? There are typically two groups of seniors that opt for assisted living: those who require the level of care they provide, and those who anticipate needing it in the near future. Because wait lists can be long, many prospective residents apply to their preferred facilities in advance of needing their services to increase their odds of securing a spot in the future.

How Do You Get Started? Any of the strategies described above for home care and independent living communities can be used to identify assisted living options in your area, including referrals from local resources and traditional ads. Due diligence is important here, as it is in all cases of senior care.

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Senior Housing Options Assisted Living Costs

Residential Care Homes

What Is It? Residential care homes offer a similar level of support as assisted living facilities, but to a smaller number of seniors (typically fewer than 10) and often in a more home-like setting. Though they may offer fewer activities and amenities than traditional assisted living homes, they still retain 24-hour care and provide a more intimate, family-like experience.

What Does It Cost? As of 2014, Genworth reports that average costs run from $2,200 per month for a shared bedroom to $3,400 per month for a private bedroom. As with many of the other estimates found in this report, prices vary based on geographic region, the level of amenities offered and the amount of care required by the resident.

Who Is It For? Residential care homes are one possible alternative for older adults who feel overwhelmed by the thought of living in assisted living communities with dozens or hundreds of other residents. Those with social anxiety, agoraphobia or other mental health conditions, as well as those who simply prefer a smaller community, may do better in these more close-knit environments.

How Do You Get Started? Because residential care homes are not as widely available as traditional assisted living facilities, locating one may require some extra due diligence. As your current care team, state or local agencies, your caseworker or any other friends or relatives with older adults in your area. If you believe your loved one may benefit from a residential care home placement, begin asking around early; given their more limited nature, wait lists can be long.

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Nursing Homes

 

Senior Housing Options Nursing Home Costs

What Is It? Nursing homes represent the most advanced level of care for senior citizens, apart from end-of-life hospice. In addition to supporting residents in their ADLs, including bathing, dressing, eating and housekeeping, nursing homes provide long-term medical care to seniors who are bedridden, wheelchair-bound or who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance for severe physical or mental health conditions.

What Does It Cost? Nursing home costs often depend on the length of the resident’s stay. Many residents remain in nursing homes for only short periods of time following hospitalization for an illness or injury (Medicare often covers these short-term stays for those who are eligible). The cost of longer-term stays are, on average, $212 per day for a semi-private room and $240 per day for a private room, according to Genworth. These averages may vary based on the size of the room offered and the geographic location of the facility.

Who Is It For? As described above, nursing home residents are those who either require short periods of rehabilitation following injury or illness, or those who need longer-duration, round-the-clock care for the management of severe, debilitating mental and/or physical health issues.

How Do You Get Started? The decision to move to a nursing home is often made in consultation with the senior’s medical team, as well as representatives from the senior’s assisted living community or home health care aid (as applicable). Nursing homes can be found through the same channels as assisted living facilities and should be evaluated just as thoroughly.

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 Senior Housing Options Nursing Home Private Costs

Memory Care

What Is It? Many assisted living facilities and nursing homes now offer separate memory care communities, which are secured by alarmed exit doors to prevent residents from wandering off and becoming disoriented. Though not available in all areas, most memory care programs include structured activities designed by those who have been specially trained to care for dementia patients.

What Does It Cost? Genworth estimates put the national average cost at $5,000 per month, with prices fluctuating by community from $2,000 per month up to $7,000 per month. These significant price variations can be attributed to the scope of services offered by the programs, their geographic locations and their reputability within the community.

Who Is It For? Patients experiencing Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss or dementia may benefit from placement within an embedded memory care community. Often, these facilities offer specialized programming – such as art and music therapy – in order to meet the unique needs of those suffering from memory issues.

How Do You Get Started? Memory care is often introduced as a “next step” in accordance with the progression of memory and thought disorders among patients in assisted living or nursing facilities; therefore, placement may be as simple as speaking to program management about the transition. Those seeking memory care for older adults who have been cared for at home can contact local and state agencies, their caregivers or caseworkers, or the directors of nearby assisted living or nursing home programs.

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Respite Care

Senior Housing Options Family Caregivers Speak Up

 

What Is It? An estimated 65 million Americans provide some level of care for aging or disabled loved ones. Respite care programs allow for short-term stays (typically, no longer than one month) at existing assisted living facilities to permit caregivers to travel or recharge, as well as to ease seniors requiring higher levels of support into residential communities.

What Does It Cost? Average costs range from $75 to $200 per day, though long-term care insurance policies may pick up some of the costs. Costs vary based on the length of the stay, the type of room supplied, the geographic location of the facility and the level of services provided.

Who Is It For? Respite care serves an important function for seniors who remain at home under the care of either family or professional caregivers by providing support in the event caregivers are taken away from their duties, due to vacations, business travel or the need for personal rest and relaxation. Caregiving is a demanding undertaking, and respite care can provide the temporary relief needed for caregivers to avoid the negative consequences associated with caregiver burnout.

How Do You Get Started? Respite care is typically offered at assisted living facilities, though independent programs may be operated by local elder care agencies or caregiving programs. Enrolling a resident in a temporary respite stay can be initiated by reaching out to the program’s  intake line for more information.

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In-Home Care

Senior Housing Options In Home Care

What Is It? Surprisingly, this senior housing option described here isn’t a residence-based alternative at all. Indeed, many seniors are able to remain in their homes with the support of qualified nursing staff who may assist with such activities as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, providing transportation assistance or offering emotional and social support. Some home care providers may also support elders in paying bills and making appointments, though these tasks are typically handled at the family’s discretion.

What Does It Cost? According to Genworth.com, the median cost of home care in 2013 was $20 per hour. Medicare may cover part of the cost of home care, but typically only if it’s provided in conjunction with nursing care or other skilled care, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech-language pathology services.

Who Is It For? Home care schedules may range from a few hours a week to 24-hour care, though most families that require such intensive care will likely find a residential program to be a more cost-effective alternative. Ideal candidates for home care include those seniors that are still able to live relatively independently, but need some level of assistance with activities of daily life (ADLs).

How Do You Get Started? You may be able to obtain referrals for home care through the senior’s doctor, through other families, through local community organizations dealing with elder issues, or through nursing homes in your area. As with any professional who would be working alone in a loved one’s home, be sure to carefully check references and background checks before hiring a home health care aid.

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Senior Housing Options Home Care Costs

Adult Day Services

What Is It? Essentially “daycare for adults,” these programs offer half-day or full-day activity programs outside of the home for senior citizens, which may be particularly beneficial in mitigating social isolation and in providing a much-needed break for full-time familial caregivers.

What Does It Cost? The average cost, according to Genworth, is $65 per day. Prices vary based on whether half-day or full-day programs are elected, the activities involved and the level of participant care required.

Who Is It For? Adult day service programs are typically intended for older adults who remain in their homes, but who enjoy the social aspect of joining together with others on a temporary basis. They can be equally as beneficial for family caregivers in providing needed respite without compromising the loved one’s care.

How Do You Get Started? Local or state elder care resources can refer you to adult day service programs, as can your doctor’s office and internet search engines. Vet adult day services as thoroughly as you would infant and child day care programs for your children. Pay particular attention to negative reviews or any state regulatory violations to ensure safe care for your loved one.

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Senior Housing Options Community Care Costs

Independent Senior Living Communities

What Is It? Independent senior living communities – also referred to as retirement communities, senior apartments and active senior living – resemble traditional apartments, townhomes or condo communities, with the simple restriction that all residents be above a certain age (typically either 55 or 62). Apart from the housing itself, amenities offer typically include meals prepared in a common dining room, periodic housekeeping, maintenance and repairs, utilities, and activities and entertainment.

What Does It Cost? Prices for independent senior living communities vary based on the type of property. Some are quite spartan, while others are luxurious in styling. The size of the unit being rented also impacts its price, though Genworth put the average cost of a one-bedroom senior apartment at $2,750 per month in 2014. Many such facilities rent for significantly less when fewer amenities are offered, and some subsidize rent based on the senior’s income.

Who Is It For? Independent senior living communities are best suited to older adults who are generally self-sufficient, but who prefer the companionship of living with others their own age. Active retirees and those who seek a simplified style of living where all cooking, cleaning and maintenance needs are handled are ideal candidates.

How Do You Get Started? Many independent senior living communities advertise through traditional means, such as newspaper ads, TV ads, radio ads, local magazine ads and billboards. You may also be able to locate programs in your area using the state-specific agency contact list at the end of this guide.

As with any major life decision, careful consideration and proper planning are of the utmost importance. Rather than acting rashly, take the time to gather recommendations and research existing options. If possible, carry out your planning well in advance of your loved one’s anticipated need for housing options in order to secure necessary waitlist placements and/or to prepare thoroughly for a smooth transition.

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Helpful Resources

As you prepare to transition an aging loved one into a senior housing program, you may find any or all of the following resources helpful:

Senior Living Resources:

Senior Services:

Caregiver Resources:

Financial Information:

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State-Specific Resource Listing

Compiled by the Assisted Living Foundation of America (ALFA), the following list of state level chapters and affiliates provide local sources of information regarding state-specific licenses, regulations and available programs:

Assisted Living Association of Alabama (ALAA)

President: Frank D. Holden

Email: fholden@alaaweb.org

5921 Carmichael Rd

Montgomery, AL 36117-2518

Mailing Address:

PO Box 230968

Montgomery, AL 36123-0968

Phone: (334) 262-5523

FAX: (334) 262-4603

 

Arizona Assisted Living Federation of America (AZ-ALFA)

President: Karen Barno

Email: ksbarno@azalfa.org

2345 E. Thomas Road, Suite 290,

Phoenix, AZ 85016

Phone: (602) 322-0100

FAX: (602) 322-0118

 

Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association (ARALA)

Executive Director: Kent Schroeder

Email: Kentschroeder@Classicnet.net

692 Honeysuckle Ln

Cabot, AR 72023-8276

Phone: (501) 941-2075

FAX: (501) 941-2075

 

California Assisted Living Association (CALA)

President: Sally Michael

Email: sgm@caassistedliving.org

455 Capitol Mall Ste 222

Sacramento, CA 95814-4439

Phone: (916) 448-1900

FAX: (916) 448-1659

 

LeadingAge Colorado

President & CEO: Laura Landwirth

Email: Laura@LeadingAgeColorado.org

303 E. 17th Avenue, Suite 880

Denver, CO 80203

Phone: (303) 837-8834

FAX: (303) 837-8836

 

Connecticut Assisted Living Association (CALA)

President: Christopher Carter

Email: cpcarter@ctassistedliving.com

100 Halls Road

PO Box 483

Old Lyme, CT 06371

Phone: (860) 434 5760

FAX: (860) 434 5790

 

Florida ALFA

Contact: Gail G. Matillo

Email: gmatillo@flalfa.org

9445 Buck Haven Trail

Tallahassee, FL 32312

Phone: (850) 296-ALFA (2532)

 

GSLA-Georgia Senior Living Association

President/CEO: Genia Ryan, CAE

Email: genia@gasla.org

2023 Grayson Highway, Suite 202-A

Grayson, GA 30017-4139

Phone: (678) 407-2060

FAX: (678) 407-2002

 

LeadingAge Illinois

Interim President: Karen Messer, MS

Email: Kmesser@leadingageil.org

1001 Warrenville Rd., Suite 150

Lisle, IL 60532

Phone: (630) 325-6170

FAX: (630) 325-0749

 

Indiana Assisted Living Association

Executive Director: Liz Carroll

Email: exdir@inassistedliving.org

5460 Bearberry Lane

Indianapolis, IN 46268

Mailing Address

P.O Box 68829

Indianapolis, IN 46268

Phone: (317) 733-2390

FAX: (317) 733-2385

 

Iowa Assisted Living Association

Executive Administrator: Shellie Petek

Email: info@ialaonline.net

9001 Hickman Rd, Ste 220

Des Moines, IA 50322

Phone: (515) 278-8700

FAX: (317) 733-2385

 

Kentucky Assisted Living Facilities Association (KALFA)

Executive Director: Robert White

Email: kalfa@kentuckyassistedliving.org

133 Evergreen Road, Suite 212

Louisville, KY 40243

Phone: (502) 225-5201

FAX: (502) 225-5206

 

Louisiana Assisted Living Association

Executive Director: Sharla Aloisio

Email: sharla@lalaonline.org

PO Box 10258

New Iberia, LA 70562

Phone: (337)577-2024

 

LifeSpan Network (Maryland/DC)

President: Isabella Firth

Email: ifirth@lifespan-network.org

10280 Old Columbia Rd Ste 220

Columbia, MD 21046-2382

Phone: (410) 381-1176

FAX: (410) 381-0240

 

Massachusetts Assisted Living Facilities Association (MASS-ALFA)

President: Michael Banville

Email: massalfa@massalfa.org

135 Beaver Street, Suite 202

Waltham, MA 02452

Phone: (781) 622-5999

FAX: (781) 622-5979

 

Michigan Assisted Living Association (MALA)

General Counsel: Kathleen Murphy, Esq

Email: kmurphy@miassistedliving.org

15441 Middlebelt Rd

Livonia, MI 48154-3805

Phone: (734) 525-0831

FAX: (734) 525-2453

Toll Free: (800) 482-0118

 

Aging Services of Minnesota

President/CEO: Gayle Kvenvold

Email: gkvenvold@agingservicesmn.org

2550 University Ave W Ste 350South

Saint Paul, MN 55114-1907

Phone: (800) 462-5368 or (651) 645-4545

FAX: (651) 645-0002

 

Missouri Assisted Living Association (MALA)

Executive Director: Keith Sappington

Email: keith@malarcf.org

2407 B Hyde Park Road

Jefferson City, MO 65109

Phone: (573) 635-8750

FAX: (573) 634-7344

 

Montana Health Care Association (MHCA)

Executive Director: Rose Hughes

Email: rosehughes@rmsmanagement.com

36 S Last Chance Gulch St Ste A

Helena, MT 59601-4126

Phone: (406) 443-2876

FAX: (406) 443-4614

 

New Hampshire Association of Residential Care Homes (NHARCH)

Executive Director: Walter Perry

Email: wperry@cornerstoneam.com

53 Regional Dr., Suite 1

Concord, NH 03301-3520

Phone: (603) 228-1231

FAX: (603) 228-2118

Toll Free: (800) 544-0906

 

Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ)

Director-Division of Assisted Living/Alternative Care: Kathy Fiery

Email: kathy@hcanj.org

4 Aaa Dr Ste 203

Hamilton, NJ 08691-1803

Phone: (609) 890-8700

FAX: (609) 584-1047

 

New York-ALFA

Directors: Nancy Hodes and Ginger Landy

Email: nhodes@hodeslandy.com

Email: glandy@hodeslandy.com

284 State St

Albany, NY 12210-2194

Phone: (518) 465-8303

FAX: (518) 465-8320

 

North Carolina Assisted Living Association (NCALA)

Executive Director: Frances Messer

Email: Frances@ncala.org

3392 Six Forks Rd

Raleigh, NC 27609

Phone: (919) 467-2486

FAX: (919) 467-5132

 

Ohio Assisted Living Association (OALA)

Executive Director: Jean Thompson

Email: jthompson@ohioassistedliving.org

1335 Dublin Rd Ste 221B

Columbus, OH 43215-7013

Phone: (614) 481-1950

FAX: (614) 481-1954

 

Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (OKALA)

Executive Director: Melissa Holland

Email: okala.ed@att.net

P.O. Box 18576

Oklahoma City, OK 73154

Phone: (405) 235-5000

FAX: (800) 375-6788

 

Oregon Health Care Association (OHCA)

Director of ALF/RCF & Quality: Linda Kirschbaum

Email: lindak@ohca.com

11740 SW 68th Pkwy Ste 250

Portland, OR 97223

Phone: (503) 726-5260

FAX: (503) 726-5259

 

Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association (PALA)

Executive Director: Jeremy Adlon

Email: jadlon@pala.org

105 North Front Street, Suite 106

Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: (717) 695-9734

Fax: (717) 695-9735

 

The Rhode Island Assisted Living Association (RIALA)

Executive Director: Kathleen Kelly, MA Gerontology

Email: kkelly@riala.org

2224 Pawtucket Ave

East Providence, RI 02914-1716

Phone: (401) 435-8888

FAX: (401) 435-8881

 

South Carolina ALFA (SCALFA)

Executive Director: Nina Buckelew

Email: nbuckelew@capconsc.com

PO Box 1763

Columbia, SC 29202

Phone: 803-252-1087

 

Assisted Living Association of South Dakota (ALASD)

Administrative Director: Lethia Marienau

Email: info@alasd.org

PO Box 818

Yankton, SD 57078

Phone: (605) 679-4606

FAX: (605) 679-4605

 

Tennessee ALFA

Executive Director: Martha M. Gentry

Email: tennalfa@gmail.com

611 Commerce Street, Suite 2702

Nashville, TN 37203

Phone: (615) 256-2376

 

Texas Assisted Living Association (TALA)

Executive Director: Gail Harmon

Email: Gail.harmon@tala.org

Physical Address:

4505 Spicewood Springs Rd., Suite 250

Austin, TX 78759

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 684642

Austin, Texas 78768

Phone: (512) 653-6604

FAX: (512) 342-2858

 

Utah Assisted Living Association (UALA)

Executive Director: Corey Fairholm

Email: coreyfairholm@comcast.net

3042 Wilkins Peak Ct

South Jordan, UT 84095-8473

Phone: (801) 569-2240

FAX: (801) 569-2256

 

Virginia Assisted Living Association (VALA)

Executive Director: Judy Hackler

Email: jhackler@valainfo.org

Mailing Address:

PO Box 71266,

Henrico, VA 23255

Physical Address:

1403 Pemberton Road, Suite 304,

Richmond, VA 23238

Phone: (804) 332-2111

Fax:(888) 611-8252

 

West Virginia Assisted Living Association Inc (WVALA)

Executive Director: Nancy Cartmill

Email: wvala@aol.com

1704 Central Ave

Barboursville, WV 25504-2116

Phone: (304) 736-9594

FAX: (304) 736-7040

 

Wisconsin Assisted Living Association (WALA)

Executive Director: Jim Murphy

Email: jmurphy@ewala.org

Mailing address:

PO Box 7730,

Madison, WI 53707-7730

Physical address:

1414 MacArthur Rd,

Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 288-0246

FAX: (608) 288-0734

 

Have another resource that you’d like to see included on this list? Leave a comment below so that all who are seeking information about senior housing options can benefit: