As people age, various circumstances have to be reassessed. A current living situation might not be meeting the needs of a senior who might be having difficulty caring properly for himself or herself.
Families often consider senior residences to provide welcoming and safe environments for their loved ones during the golden years of their lives. These facilities range from independent living homes offering minimal care to nursing homes that provide more intensive care when needed. Somewhere in the middle are assisted living homes, which blend the independence of personal residences with other amenities, such as housekeeping, medication reminders or meal services.
Assisted living can be a viable option when a person can no longer live alone, but such facilities come with a price. In the 2015 Cost of Care Survey conducted by Genworth Financial, the national median monthly rate for assisted living was $3,600 - and it’s expected to grow. Locally, $5,000 per month is common depending on the level of care needed. Affording these homes and apartments can be challenging for those on fixed incomes, but there are strategies that can help.
The payment method that serves you best will depend on your own circumstances, but a few options exist.
• Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance is specialized insurance that can cover the cost of assisted living facilities and other medical care depending on the policy. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance says only about 3% of Americans have this type of insurance, but it is something to consider during working years.
• Personal savings: Some people have the means to pay for assisted living with their own savings and retirement nest eggs. However, savings easily can become depleted by a $40,000 to $60,000 annual bill for assisted living.
• Life insurance: A financial adviser might suggest paying for assisted living with a life insurance policy. Some companies let you cash out a policy for “accelerated” or “living” benefits, which usually involves a buy-back of the policy for 50% to 75% of the face value. Other third parties might buy the policy for a lump-sum settlement, again roughly 50% to 75% of the policy’s face value, according to Caring.com, an online source for support and information about the needs of the elderly.
• Location: The cost of assisted living facilities varies depending on location. It’s possible to get a lower monthly rate simply by choosing a facility in a different city.
• Negotiation: Not all prices are set in stone. Speak with a manager at the facility and ask about price flexibility or move-in incentives. You also might be able to get a lower rate by negotiating certain a-la-carte costs over all-inclusive pricing. Perhaps you do not need laundry or shopping services, and family members can fill in the gaps, thus reducing your bill.
• Veteran’s benefits: Many veterans are eligible for care benefits that can offset the cost of assisted living care.
• Rooms: Opting for a smaller room or sharing a space can keep costs down as well. See if shared rooms are a possibility.
Assisted living is a necessity for thousands of people. Explore the ways to finance the level of care you or a loved one needs.