The decision to move to a senior living community is not always an easy one. First, it can be difficult to say goodbye to your long-time home; then, families must address any financial concerns. The cost of quality senior care can be intimidating at first; however, when you break down the amount you spend living at home, it may be more reasonable than you originally thought.

If you are beginning to consider senior living, finding the right help is an important part of the decision-making process. You will likely have a number of questions about how to choose the right facility, and how to pay for it. This guide will help you as you enter into these uncharted waters, helping you find answers to tough questions while making the best the best possible decision for yourself or a loved one.

Start with the Level of Need

The level of care that you or your family member needs directly impacts how much you will pay at a senior living community. Start by asking yourself the following questions to consider what level of care, if any, is needed as you enter this next chapter in your life:

  • How much help is needed with activities of daily living (ADLs), like getting dressed or bathing?
  • Any difficulty managing medications?
  • Is there a serious or immediate need for medical attention?
  • Can you live independently?
  • Is dementia or another health issue a concern?
  • Are there any other specialized care needs to consider?

There are many different types and levels of senior living to consider. Some of these include:

  • Independent Living – Independent living communities allow seniors to live as they wish, with the same freedom they had living in their previous home. Some of the many benefits of living in an independent living community include receiving help with home maintenance (freeing up your time to pursue activities you’re passionate about), having access to helpful staff, living in a social community of your peers and knowing assistance is available whenever it’s needed.
  • Personal Care – Personal care provides independence with daily care assistance. Those who need help dressing, taking medication and bathing can benefit from a personal care living environment.
  • Memory Care – Memory care helps those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related conditions. Residents have a safe living environment with staff who understand the complexities of these conditions.
  • Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation is a type of senior living environment designed for short-term stays. Older individuals who are recovering from an injury or surgery can benefit from these facilities during their recuperation, when they may need more hands-on care than they can get at home.
  • Skilled Nursing Care – Skilled nursing care is a long-term therapeutic environment for those who need more dedicated medical care. This level of care has around-the-clock nursing care.

By taking a careful look at your or your loved one’s abilities and potential needs, you will be able to determine which of these living options is the right fit; then, you can start the search for a facility that will meet those needs.

Consider Amenities as Well

Independent living communities strive to keep residents active and engaged through amenities and activities. These benefits are rolled into the cost of a senior living community and are accessible to all residents. Amenities can include everything from a library to a beauty salon or barbershop. Some senior living communities even have fitness centers, flexible dining options, art and hobby classes, computer workstations and more. The more amenities the community has, the more comfortable and active you or your loved one will be in retirement. 

The All-Important Question of Cost

After you’ve determined what type of facility and amenities would work best for your needs, it’s time to consider cost. The cost for senior care can feel overwhelming when you first start looking at numbers; however, when you break down the pricing and compare it to what you are currently spending at home – the numbers are very similar. In fact, aging in place is sometimes more expensive.

When determining your monthly spend at home, consider your mortgage payments, maintenance costs, in-home care, utilities, TV or internet, home security and more. In addition, do you spend money on a gym, club or pool membership? 

Once current budget is determined, consider what is included in the senior living community. If you’re looking at a facility that includes meals, laundry service and even some on-site entertainment, you will be able to reallocate funds to the overall cost of living at a senior living community. You won’t need to pay separately for laundry and food when they are included in your monthly payment. 

Often when families start to look at budgets, they find that the cost for care is actually more affordable than originally thought, and with some creative budgeting, they can fit it into their retirement income or budget. That said, there are additional options to help pay for the cost of care.

Planning Ahead for Costs

Some of the planning for senior living can be done far in advance of moving. If you start planning your retirement budget early, you can allocate certain costs to help make room for future living options.

If you anticipate that you may need long-term care someday, you can purchase long-term care insurance. This insurance sets aside money each month into a fund, which then can be used to pay for care in the future.

Retirement funds can also be used for senior care. Again, this requires time to build and grow, but if you are planning far ahead, consider setting some money aside for retirement that can go towards senior living expenses.

Payment Options for Senior Living Arrangements Needed Now

Not all families have the benefit of time as they search for senior living arrangements and consider how to pay for them. If you or a loved one need help right now, some options for payment assistant may include:

  • Private Pay – Families who have planned well for senior living needs can privately pay for the cost of care for their loved ones using existing retirement income, savings and long-term care insurance. Sometimes families who do not have these assets can pool resources to support an elderly loved one without financial aid.
  • Medicare/Medicaid – Medicare is an option to pay for some short-term care programs. Rehabilitative care, for example, when prescribed by a doctor is covered by Medicare. Medicaid is available for long-term care. Medicaid eligibility requires low income and few assets, but families can arrange estate plans to help individuals qualify for Medicaid when paying privately is not an option.
  • Veteran Benefits – Veterans may have additional support to pay for senior living care needs. Veterans may qualify for support through the Aid and Attendance program, which gives up to $2,000 to cover the cost of senior living care.
  •  Supplemental Security Income – Many seniors are able to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is a monthly cash disbursement for those individuals who have limited sources of income. This is federal assistance, and only applies if your senior loved one no longer has assets of their own to use to pay for the cost of care.
  • Bridge Loan or Line of Credit – While it would not be a wise financial move to put the cost of senior living into a form of debt, sometimes families face a gap in time between deciding to use senior care and receiving federal benefits. A bridge loan or a line of credit can pay for the cost of care during that time frame.

With so many payment assistant options available to help with these costs, few families are left holding the entire bill for their loved one’s care.

Striking the Right Balance

As you consider level of care, amenities and cost, you will need to strike the right balance between an affordable senior living environment and one that will meet your loved one’s needs exceptionally well. Often the lowest priced communities are the ones providing fewer amenities, benefits and lower quality of care. 

At PPH, we have created a supportive and comfortable independent living environment with personal care services, rehabilitation care and skilled nursing care, that provides superior options for families facing this decision. If you’re looking for an independent living environment, with exciting activities and amenities and a supportive, caring staff, consider PPH. Schedule a tour today.