When is it time to consider assisted living for a senior loved one? It is a complex question involving emotions, physical health and finances for seniors and their families. How and when that question is answered has a direct bearing on the costs involved.
These signs can help you decide when it is time to consider assisted living:
- Difficulty maintaining the home and performing necessary chores
- Diminished ability to handle finances
- Worsening medical problems
- Increased number of falls and accidents
- Increased cognitive challenges, particularly dementia
- Onset of depression caused by isolation
Waiting too long to enter an assisted living community can result in more expensive care as a senior declines while in his or her home.
In addition, consider the costs of maintaining a home that will no longer be incurred:
- House maintenance and repair
- Taxes and insurance premiums
Few senior adults want to leave their home, but waiting until a serious injury or illness occurs may not provide time to research the best options, discover benefits, arrange finances, and make the optimum choice of an assisted living community.
The services provided in assisted living communities vary widely. Look for comprehensive services that will meet the needs of your senior now and in the future. At Bethesda, assisted living communities offer the following:
- Assistance with activities of daily living—dressing, bathing, laundry services, etc.
- Nursing, care staff and security 24/7
- Nutritious meal service
- Social activities
- Apartment maintenance
- Medication management
- Beauty and barber shops
- Secure outdoor courtyards
- Worship services
- Rehab and therapy services
If your senior loved one is beginning to struggle with dementia, find out if the senior care community you are considering offers memory support. Bethesda provides these services, allowing seniors with a more advanced level of dementia to transition into a Memory Support neighborhood.
What Are Your Resources?
Involve the senior’s physician and other family members in assessing needs and resources available to the senior. In addition, a geriatric care manager, versed in many aspects of senior care needs—experience with medical requirements, benefits for seniors, and the logistics of selecting and moving into an assisted living community—can save time, energy, and money.
A list of possible resources and benefits include:
Aid and Attendance for veterans. Wartime veterans or spouses of wartime veterans may qualify for a benefit to cover part of the services provided by an assisted living facility.
Insurance policies. A whole or universal life insurance policy could be tapped for additional funds.
Social Security. Some states offer Social Security supplements depending upon the type of care a resident in assisted living needs. Learn more from your local Social Security office.
Bridge loans. This is a short-term loan for situations where homeowners need cash to pay for assisted living while liquidating assets and selling the home. The loan provides time to sell the home while enabling the senior to enter a senior living community for the appropriate care.
Pricing considerations. Research the price structure for the assisted living community you are considering. Some assisted living communities offer a variety of services a la carte, meaning the resident purchases services or items as needed. Others use an all-inclusive monthly fee that covers a range of services.
In addition, family caregivers may be able to provide some services to the seniors, thereby reducing expenditures for them.
Also inquire if there are any move-in incentives at the community, and what other items might be negotiable.
Moving at the right time. If possible, considering moving into an assisted living community between September and April. April to September is the peak moving season, and it may be difficult to schedule a moving service, plus costs might be higher due to the increased demand for services.
Reducing other costs. The National Council on Aging provides a wide array of information on its website for low-income seniors to save costs on prescriptions, food, some aspects of medical care, and energy bills. The money saved could then be applied toward assisted living costs.
Understanding and applying for some of these benefits and options can be a complex undertaking and require time-consuming effort. Please consult with qualified professionals, including a geriatric care manager, attorney, or financial consultant as needed before making decisions about care and finances.
Cost might be a major consideration when it comes to seeking an assisted living community, but what value do you assign to safety, medical supervision, social activities, security, assistance with daily living tasks, and the peace of mind all of this delivers to seniors and their family members?
Whatever you and your senior loved one decide, remember you are not alone. Prepare early, research what assistance may be available, talk with your family, and consult with professionals, and you may find a move to an assisted living community is more affordable than you thought.
Contact a care manager today to learn about Bethesda’s assisted living communities.