As we age, living options can become a very real concern. While most of us want to “age in place” (i.e., live in our homes till we transition from this world into the next), unfortunately for many seniors, living at home just doesn’t remain practical. Available options are tied to the resources a senior has to cover living costs which can vary greatly, depending upon the assistance and care required. In addition to budget considerations, seniors must also consider their needs realistically as they look at the various senior living options. On August 22nd, Colleen Nilsen, a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) gave a great overview to many of my clients about the various senior living options, so here’s a summary.
Independent Living Communities
An independent living community is a viable option for senior living. These communities are for independent, active seniors who enjoy the idea of living in a community. Independent living communities are much like living in a condo or as a part of a community with a Homeowners Association. Often maintenance, housekeeping, and landscaping are part of what is included with living in these retirement communities. Many seniors choose this type of community when they are no longer able or no longer wish to maintain a home. The housing options for independent living communities range from detached homes to apartments. Another benefit of retirement communities is the wide range of amenities and activities available. Seniors are often lonely and living among other active seniors can provide friendship and companionship. Residents in independent living communities pay privately, and the cost varies from one community to another.
Assisted Living Facilities
Another option for senior living is assisted living facilities. These facilities are ideal for seniors who are still independent but may need some assistance with activities of daily living, as well as meals, cleaning, or other daily self-care tasks. These facilities usually offer a more private living environment. Since residents may be fairly independent, assisted living facilities are an appealing option because they often offer a variety of activities and opportunities for seniors to interact with one another and to stay active.
Memory care facilities provide a more specialized senior living option for seniors who have serious cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. These facilities are much like assisted living facilities, but cater to cognitive impairments. They may even be a specialized part of an existing assisted living facility. The staff at memory care facilities have specialized training that helps them better assist residents with cognitive impairments. They are often planned intuitively to help patients who may become easily disoriented. These facilities also give extra consideration to security for residents who may wander due to their cognitive impairment. If a senior needs this kind of care, it is important to plan and look for facilities that provide it ahead of time.
Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are usually the least desirable option for senior living. These facilities are for seniors who can no longer live independently due to the level of medical care they need. They provide care for seniors with illnesses or mental conditions that cause them to require monitoring and medical care on a full-time basis. For example, many nursing home patients have dementia, are confined to a wheelchair, or spend most of their time in bed as a result of a stroke or illness like Parkinson’s. Their conditions require that medical attention be available around the clock.
Nursing homes also provide the option for short term care, where patients come and stay for a limited time after major medical events such as strokes or heart attacks. In these facilities, the residents generally live in semi-private rooms and all meals are provided. Medicare may help cover the cost of skilled nursing facilities for a very limited time.Medi-Cal may also cover the cost, assuming the resident meets certain financial requirements. Long term care insurance may also pay for nursing home care. Otherwise, a nursing home resident pays privately, which can often bring financial hardship upon the family. As a result, many families work with an elder law attorney to discuss care options as well as payment options for that care.
Please call or email me at Herb@Chaverslaw.com to discuss these issues further.