Welcome to another post on Senior Living Communities. If you missed our post on the different types of communities, check it out here.
When thinking about if you or your Senior would benefit from a move to a Senior Living Community, it’s often not a clear-cut decision. There are many factors to consider, each with pros and cons that impact the full picture of a Senior’s lifestyle and care. Let’s take a look at some of those factors:
Depending on where your Senior currently resides, they may have minimal home maintenance needs…or they may have enough to keep them (and their wallet) busy. They may be able to prepare simple meals…or you may question what nutrition they’re actually getting. It is important to consider these home management needs when helping your Senior decide if a move is right for them.
The majority of Seniors can safely remain in their homes with the right level of support. But all care, whether at home or at a Community, has a cost, and those care needs can change. Many families are also considering the needs of a Senior partnership. And if Senior spouses or partners have different care needs, those needs impact what remaining at home vs moving to a Community could look like. This is especially true if your Senior’s partner has other family members that are involved in their care.
Whether a Senior’s loved ones are local or out of town, older adults typically have some level of involvement from family or friends. Families sometimes feel that a move to a Community will lessen the burden of managing their Senior’s care. But it’s important to remember that family involvement for Seniors who reside in communities includes things like:
- Supporting with move logistics: This can be very challenging for a Senior to manage independently. (For assistance, we recommend using a move manager through the National Association of Speciality and Senior Move Managers.)
- Co-signing the lease and care plan: For Seniors who are signing a residency agreement themselves, most Communities require a cosigner.
- Providing needed items for your Senior: For example, with the exception of SNFs, Communities do not provide toilet paper!
- Updating the Community on medical changes: When your Senior has a change in medication or has an upcoming appointment for which they need transportation, they may benefit from support with communicating this to the Community.
- Emergency management: If your Senior has an emergency, the Community will notify families, but it is up to them to manage it. (We do a lot of this for our clients.)
- Troubleshooting Community issues: If your Senior complains that they didn’t get their shower one day, or their neighbor’s TV is too loud, they may benefit from family support to resolve those issues.
- Supporting and visiting your Senior: Even in the best of circumstances, moving to a Senior Living Community is an adjustment for Seniors. Knowing they have your support – and demonstrating to the Community that your loved one has an involved family – is one of the best ways you can ensure a successful move for your Senior.
Whether a Senior is at home or at a Community, care costs money. Therefore, we advise thinking through what care would cost at home vs. at a Community, as well as how each of those options would be funded. Much to the surprise of many, Medicare does not pay for residency and care in Senior Living Communities. (The exception: Medicare will pay for some subacute rehab following a qualifying hospital stay.)
So how do Seniors pay for care, whether that be in their home or at a Community?
- Private pay: For Seniors who are not Medicaid beneficiaries, it is often their retirement savings that fund their care.
- Long term care insurance: If your Senior has this voluntary insurance, read carefully the terms of the policy. You may find that it is advantageous to open a claim now – or save those precious funds for the future when your Senior may need more care.
- Sale of their home: If your Senior owns their home, its sale may be used to fund residency and care in a Community. It can also be advantageous to sell a larger home and move to a modest home to have funds available for home-based care.
- Life insurance policy: If your Senior has one, they can consider cashing it in for immediately-available funds, albeit they will receive less than the value of the policy.
- Medicaid spend-down: If your Senior is not yet eligible for Medicaid but would like to be in order to fund their care, we recommend working with an attorney to enroll in a Medicaid spend-down program. Medicaid coverage for care and housing varies by state, and we recommend consulting with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what your Senior is eligible for.
We hope this helps you in your journey with exploring Senior Living Communities. As always, we’re here to help and would love to be of support to you and your Senior if you’re looking for guidance on next steps with care and housing.