Making a decision on when to help senior relatives move into assisted living can be an emotionally fraught time. It can be exacerbated if only one-half of the couple needs an advanced degree of care, while the other is still able to live independently and be self-sufficient. In addition to the stress and anxiety of this type of situation, there can also be a degree of financial strain. According to Eldercare Locator, two out of three seniors will need assistance; some advanced planning can help smooth the journey.
To help, the Elite Home Health & Hospice offers the following guidance.
How to Know When It’s Time
Most seniors resist the urge to move into assisted living, primarily because it’s a sign of a major life change, as well as a loss of independence. It’s best to have a discussion about the subject with parents before the time comes so that you’re able to be respectful of their wishes, while still planning ahead as needed. Most healthcare providers will say it’s time to look at assisted living once an individual is no longer able to perform activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing, preparing healthy meals, taking necessary medications, and being safely mobile.
Tiered Assisted-Living Options
It is becoming more commonplace for senior couples to gravitate toward structured living environments that have a tiered approach. For example, many communities offer a combination of independent living options all the way through long-term and even hospice care, all in the same physical location. In this environment, both halves of the couple can live in the same community and see each other on a regular basis. The one who needs a greater degree of care receives it, while the one who remains more independent is able to maintain some of their autonomy. The level of care each receives can evolve over time as necessary to meet their individual needs.
How to Find the Right Community
Assisted living communities vary greatly in terms of staff-to-patient ratios, amenities, services, and costs. You can take tours and meet with social workers and admission directors to learn more about various locations before making a decision. Read online reviews from the Better Business Bureau to help ensure you’re not choosing a place that has complaints and health violations or raises red flags. You can also ask for referrals from family members and friends. Some communities even allow prospective residents to stay for a few days to test the environment.
Paying for Senior Care
The cost of assisted living can be high, especially for two individuals. Long-term care insurance and Medicaid and Medicare may cover some costs, but much depends on geographic location, the type of community, and the level of care needs in question. Many people sell the family home as a way to subsidize the expenses. You can learn about the value of a house by consulting a real estate professional, or by calculating the home’s value by subtracting the amount still owed on the mortgage from the current market value of a home. You can find a general ballpark figure using online real estate search tools, or have the home appraised by an independent party.
How to Downsize
Making a move into assisted living means that in most cases, a significant percentage of household and personal items will need to be donated, given away, or sold. To make the transition easier, Daily Caring advises encouraging loved ones to keep personal items that have sentimental value. You can utilize the services of an estate sale company or auction house to help liquidate assets. This helps with the downsizing process, as well as provides funds to cover the cost of assisted living. Always get several quotes and written estimates before choosing a service provider.
Having discussions with your loved one and other family members about planning senior care and financial matters can make for difficult conversations. It’s best to keep some negotiating tips in mind. Always come to the conversation prepared with details and options. Remember that this is a collaborative process; always stay focussed on what’s best for your loved one.
Even though moving a loved one into assisted living can be very difficult for adult children, it’s important to maintain a degree of compassion. This is a difficult transition, and acknowledging fears and worries can help smooth the process. Making the effort to find a place where both halves of the couple can reside together can help diminish some of the worry, and instead, provide a degree of comfort and security. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can provide resources to help.
This article was guest written by Annabelle Harris from Elders Center. There is no affiliation with Elite Home Health & Hospice.