By MARY SUE PATCHETT, Brookdale Senior Living
Many aging Americans come to the realization that living alone isn’t really living. They long for human connections and need help with daily chores. Adult children must often weigh what’s right for their parents, and many families see senior living as the best solution. Senior living communities allow residents to focus on doing what they enjoy, without the burden of household duties like cooking and cleaning. They provide opportunities to make social connections, try new things and remove the stress of caregiving many families struggle with. But how do you pay for senior living?
That’s a question we get asked a lot. I’m happy to share that many of our residents have found the cost of a senior living community to be same or even lower than living at home. At a senior living community, you won’t have to cover many of the expenses you have at a house, like yard work and maintenance. We created a helpful infographic about paying for senior living that breaks down some of those expenses and outlines where most people find the money to pay for it. It’s a good idea to make a list of everything you (or the person considering a move) are currently paying for. Are you providing yourself three meals a day, paying for utilities, a mortgage, home repairs, yard maintenance, transportation, cable and internet? Compare that total to everything that is included in independent or assisted living, where you don’t have to do the work, and neither does your family.
Another question we’re often asked is how much does senior living cost? The answer is not simple; it depends on a number of factors including what services you need and where you’re looking. Choosing the right senior living community is an extremely personal decision, and often one that is made by multiple family members, including children, spouses and other relatives.
We recommend starting the conversation about senior living long before you think you will need it. You’ll have more opportunities to tour places and more time to really decide what services and amenities you want and need. There are so many options out there now. If you’re a couple, you may want to look for a campus that offers both independent and assisted living or care services so you can stay together even when one of you needs more assistance than the other. Senior living is not a one-size-fits-all thing. You’ve really got to decide what works best for you. Since Brookdale offers all levels of care, from independent living and assisted living, memory care to skilled nursing, we have learned a lot about this along the way. You can click on this link to find out more about Brookdale’s levels of care to get an overall idea of options for senior living.
When it comes to paying for senior living, most people use a combination of savings, annuities, pensions and social security. Another common source of payment is the sale of a home. Additionally, family members will often contribute to the cost of assisted living. It’s not uncommon for children to supplement or support their parents. Do you have a long term care insurance policy? Some policies cover assisted living services. Military veterans and their spouses may qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits that would help pay for some costs associated with senior living.
To help lower initial senior living costs, you may want to look at a flexible pricing structure that allows you to select and pay for the services you need or desire at the time you need them vs. an all-inclusive rate. There are many pricing models, so be sure to ask what care levels are included in your apartment rent and what services will cost extra. You can also choose lower-cost rooms. In many communities, rooms that are further from the dining area could cost less. Some communities may allow rooms to be shared, which can save a significant amount of rent. In many Brookdale communities, furnishings are provided for common spaces so all you’d need is a bedroom set. Some states do have a Medicaid waiver program that could help offset costs at a senior living community, such as room and board or healthcare. But in most states, Medicare only covers short-term stays in a skilled nursing or rehab facility.
As you can see, there are lots of factors to consider when thinking about senior living … but we believe the main one is how it can free you to focus on living life and doing fun things, not worrying about daily chores. Senior living communities offer an unmatched social dynamic with lasting relationships among fellow residents and associates. The best advice is to visit a senior community, ask all the questions you have and see if it’s the right fit for you or a family member – whether it’s now or in the future.
Mary Sue Patchett is executive vice president of Community and Field Operations at Brookdale Senior Living Inc., a leading operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. Brookdale operates and manages independent living, assisted living, memory care, and continuing care retirement communities, with 794 communities in 45 states and the ability to serve approximately 75,000 residents as of Sept. 30, 2019. The company, headquartered in Middle Tennessee, also offers a range of home health, hospice, and outpatient therapy services to over 20,000 patients as of that date. For more Brookdale news, go to brookdalenews.com