How to Be Strategic About Assisted Living Options

In the past, the only option for people with aging loved ones who need regular care was to either become their caregiver or send them to a nursing home. Many people don’t have the time or skill necessary to become a full-time caretaker for their loved ones, but may still be hesitant at the idea of a nursing home.

Fortunately, nursing homes are far from the only option available for long-term assisted living these days. There are tons of compassionate, skilled facilities that go above and beyond to make sure that their residents are happy and healthy during their golden years.

Getting The Right Level Of Care

The first thing you should do when looking into assisted living options for either yourself or a loved one is to assess the level of care that will be required. Finding the housing option that will fit best means finding one that strikes a good balance between quality medical care, independence, and cost. If 24-hour care is required, a nursing home is usually the best option as it has medical staff on duty at all times. However, if you or your loved one only requires some assistance, assisted living communities, continuing care retirement communities, independent living, or even “aging in place” are all excellent options.

If living independently is a priority, at-home care is an option that is now much more viable than it used to be. Even for people living with dementia, family nurse practitioners can provide education and support to their caregivers that can allow them to live outside of a more restrictive assisted living environment. Living alone or with family offers a great deal of independence and privacy, however, access to medical care is significantly reduced when compared to nursing homes or assisted living centers.

One of the advantages of living in an assisted care facility is that most of the daily medical tasks such as reminders to take medication are done for tenants. In an era where much of the healthcare system takes place digitally, it can be difficult for aging people to stay up to date. Assisted living facilities and many other living options take a lot of the hassle out of everyday life by offering assistance when it is needed and leaving those living there to their own devices otherwise.

Avoiding Abuse

While it isn’t as widespread an issue as it is made out to be in media depictions, nursing home abuse is unfortunately a very real problem in some areas. However, if you or a loved one are in need of round-the-clock medical attention and care, a nursing home might be be the best option available to you. Fortunately, most nursing homes aren’t the bastions of abuse that they are made out to be, but it is still wise to do your research on the facility as well as schedule a visit to see how the staff interacts with the tenants.

If the people living in the nursing home are sluggish or seem over-medicated, there’s a good chance that there is an overprescription issue. Going for a visit on days when activities are planned gives you a good chance to see what life will be like, and if you ask to be there during a meal, you can see what the food is like. If you see any warning signs like unclean rooms and hallways, bad odors, or even if you simply feel like something is off about any one particular nursing home, follow your instincts and move on.

When deciding on senior living options, it is incredibly important to do your homework and understand exactly what you or your loved one is heading into. Nursing homes might be the first thing that pops into mind when thinking of assisted living, however it should really only be a last resort as there are plenty of other options available if you don’t require the level of care provided at nursing homes. Age-restricted communities, assisted living facilities, and cohousing are all potential solutions that have a much better track record when it comes to allegations of abuse.

Assisted Living Can Be Expensive

One thing that many don’t consider around assisted living is the associated cost depending on the type of living facility desired. Assisted living can be quite expensive, especially for those who have very little saved for retirement. Many assisted living communities require a move-in fee which can be up to $5,000, and receiving care in a nursing home can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 annually depending on location and services.

Many seniors plan to use Social Security or Medicare to cover assisted living costs, however, Medicare does not cover assisted living and Social Security benefits are not nearly enough to completely offset the costs. If you or a loved one are concerned about the cost of assisted living, pursuing a life settlement can be an option for obtaining the necessary funds. Life settlement companies buy back life insurance policies, which can free up a significant amount of capital if a life insurance policy is no longer deemed necessary.

While it is always beneficial to see healthcare quality go up, it can also drive up the overall costs for patients. Obtaining the funding for assisted living can be a hassle, but when you consider that these higher costs directly correspond to the level of care that you or a loved one will receive, it is worth it to spend the extra money to ensure quality care. At the end of the day, this is a decision that can’t be taken lightly, as no one wants to spend their golden years in a place they are uncomfortable in.

When looking into assisted living options, it is important that you be strategic. Not all assisted living options are the sam; do your homework to find out what level of care you or a loved one needs, whether or not there is a chance of abuse, and exactly what it will all cost, and you’re sure to find an option that works. After all, everyone deserves to be happy and healthy, no matter their age.

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Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and wilderness enthusiast. When she's not writing, she can usually be found zipping around the mountains on her ATV.

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