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Monday May 23, 2022
Navigating Housing Options
There is a wide array of housing options available, but what is appropriate for your parent will depend on their needs and financial situation. Here is a rundown of the different levels of housing and some resources to help you choose one.
Independent living: If your parent is in relatively good health and self-sufficient, "independent living communities" are a top option that can offer a sense of community. This type of housing is usually apartments or town homes that are fully functional and are typically available to people over the age of 55. In addition, many communities also offer amenities such as meals served in a common dining area, housekeeping, transportation and a variety of social activities.
To locate this type of housing, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. You can locate their contact information by using your favorite search engine. Most of these communities are private pay only and can vary greatly in cost ranging anywhere between $1,500 to $6,000 per month.
Assisted living: If your parent needs help with daily living chores, they will probably need an "assisted living facility." These facilities provide help with the activities of daily living – like bathing, dressing, eating, going to the bathroom – as needed, as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, social activities and medication management. Many facilities also offer special "memory care units" for residents with dementia.
Costs for assisted living usually run between $3,000 and $6,000 per month depending on location and services needed. Most residents pay for assisted living from personal funds, while some have long-term care insurance policies. Many state Medicaid programs today also cover some assisted living costs for financially eligible residents.
Another similar, but less expensive option to look into is "board and care homes." These offer many of the same services as assisted living facilities but in a much smaller home setting.
Nursing homes: If your parent needs ongoing medical and personal care or has very limited mobility, a nursing home, which provides 24-hour skilled nursing care is the next option. To find a good one, use Medicare's nursing home compare tool at Medicare.gov/care-compare. This tool will not only help you locate nursing homes in your area, it also provides a 5-star rating system on recent health inspections, staffing, quality of care, and overall rating.
Be aware that nursing home care can be very expensive, costing anywhere between $4,500 and $13,000 per month for a semi-private room depending on where you live. Most residents pay from either personal funds, a long-term care insurance policy or through Medicaid after their savings are depleted.
Continuing-care retirement communities (CCRC's): If your parent has the financial resources, a "CCRC" is another option that provides all levels of housing (independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing home care) in one convenient location. But these communities typically require a substantial entrance fee that can range between $20,000 to $500,000 or more, plus ongoing monthly service fees that vary from $2,000 to over $4,000.
If you are not sure what your parent needs, consider hiring an aging life care expert who can assess your parent and find them appropriate housing for a fee – usually between $300 and $800. You can also use a senior care advising service free of charge, as these service agencies get paid from the senior living facilities in their network.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.