Nearly 44 Million Americans provide unpaid care to an elderly loved one. This puts stress on the sandwich generation, which are those that have elderly parents and children. They are supporting both of these groups emotionally and financially. It is a difficult conversation to have with one’s parents, but it is extremely important that your family has a plan. Many people have other types of plans in place, such as a financial advisor, but not having a plan about mom/dad’s future living arrangements can have a lasting effect on their children’s financial and emotional wellbeing.
The most important first step has nothing to do with moving, but making sure that all of the following documents are in place. Most people will say that I have a will so that I’m covered, but a will is once the person has passed away. I’m more concerned about when you are living. The medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and living will and very important documents that allows the person designated on your behalf to adhere to the way you would like a situation to be handled as well as being able to have easier access to financial resources in order to pay for your care. Unfortunately, only 1 out of 3 who are chronically ill have these documents.
80% of Americans say that they want to stay in their home forever, but that may not be possible due to physical and/or cognitive changes. It is important to have a plan in place, so that if the time comes where one has to move then they know what they are going to do. Too many times mom/dad has an event that makes them not able to live alone at home and the family is stressed out because they do not have a plan. The first time mom/dad goes to the hospital due to a fall then that family should start investigating senior living options so that they are prepared. That doesn’t mean that mom/dad has to move due to that occurrence, but at least they have a plan if it happens again.
Senior Living Options:
In-home care– This option does not require mom/dad to move. A caregiver would come to the home to provide medical as well as non-medical care. This may be a good option if mom/dad only needs a 4-6 hours of care a day as it could get expensive. Also, a good option if mom/dad is still getting together with their friends in social settings.
Independent Living- This option does require mom/dad to move. If mom/dad is active and does not require any assistance then this might be a good option. Independent living communities do not provide any type of medical or non-medical care. These communities provide daily social activities such as arts and crafts, bingo, trivia games etc. Physical activities as well are incorporated into the activities calendar. Some independent communities provide meals as well, but it is not a requirement. They may provide up to 3 meals a day.
Assisted Living- This option does require mom/dad to move as well. The reasons to move to an assisted living community is for 24/7 care as well as socialization. If mom/dad requires more than 6-8 hours of care per day then it may be better financially to move. If mom/dad is not socializing with their friends anymore due to isolation or because that many on their friends have passed away then it may be time to make a move.
Socialization can play a large role on keeping mom/dad’s social skills intact, which may improve their cognitive functioning. Assisted living communities provide 24/7 non-medical care, 3 meals per day, snacks, hydration stations, and housekeeping. Care includes assistance with showering, transferring, eating, incontinence, dressing, and medication management. Many assisted living communities have a beauty parlor on site. Activities may include card games, bingo, puzzles, trivia, arts & crafts, music, movies, and exercise. Many assisted living communities will incorporate the resident’s preferences in their activity schedule. Going to restaurants and shops are on the agenda as well.
Memory Care- 5.4 Million Americans are currently affected by some form of dementia. Memory Care is part of an assisted living community, but in a safe and secure environment. The memory care environment at an assisted living community may play an important role in slowing down the progression of dementia as they implement social and physical activities.
Nursing Care- This option requires mom/dad to move to the facility. This facility handles residents with chronic health issues that require intensive medical care 24/7. Nursing care resident’s usually come from a hospital setting first and then are transferred to the facility for continuation of care.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – This option requires mom/dad to move to the community. The option calls for the most advanced planning and financial commitment. If choosing this option, many couples choose this option early so that they can receive the largest benefit. A CCRC is an independent, assisted living, and nursing community all under the same umbrella located in one location. Clients most likely will need to pay upfront starting at approximately $300,000 for a life care contract. This will enable the community to care for the individual as they progress through the aging process from independent living to nursing care. They will still need to pay a monthly fee as well. Benefit of a CCRC (if one can afford the upfront cost) is that your care is paid for until you pass away. One of the downsides is that the contract is only good at that community. So if your children suddenly move to another state and you would like to be near them then you will void the CCRC agreement.
As you can see, there are many options and every situation is different. One option might be good for you, but a different option might be better for another family member, neighbor, or friend. More specifically an assisted living community might be a good fit for you, but another community might be a better fit for someone else.
It is important to be proactive when thinking about senior living options. As a certified senior advisor in RVA, I provide a FREE service for families looking for an assisted living community as well as being a resource for all senior living options.
It is always better to be over prepared then not prepared at all!
Marc Friedlander CSA MBA