Housing Options for Older Adults: How to Make Sense of It All
With so many housing options for older adults, looking at all the choices might feel overwhelming. To narrow the list of housing options that will work for your situation it’s important to think about how much help you need each day and what you can afford. Then focus on the one or two types of housing that accommodate your needs and fits within your financial budget.
Home care allows individuals to remain in the comfort of their homes while receiving the assistance they need to help them stay independent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 7.6 million Americans receive home care, but this number may be more significant when you include all the informal care that’s often provided by friends and family. Home care may be appropriate for seniors who prefer to live at home, but require assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, and housekeeping. Home care providers can also help with activities such as transportation, paying bills, making appointments, and just being there to provide companionship and emotional support. Home care services range from weekly visits to 24-hour care, depending on the needs of the senior. The cost for these services can vary based on your location, the number of care hours needed and the types of services provided. However, agencies typically charge $24-$26 per hour. The most common method of paying for home care is private pay, long-term care insurance, and Veterans Aid & Attendance.
Independent living is generally appropriate for older adults who are entirely or mostly independent, but who may enjoy the companionship of others their age, or who may benefit from amenities such as prepared meals and weekly housekeeping. Independent living communities have a minimum age for residents (usually 55 or 62).
These communities’ services and amenities cater to older adults and promote active lifestyles. Independent living costs vary depending on the size of the apartment and the geographic location of the community. According to Genworth, the average cost of a one-bedroom, independent living or retirement community in California is around $2,450 per month. Independent Living communities are private pay only, Veterans benefits and long term care insurance does not cover this type housing. It’s important to ask each community about their costs and services, as they vary by community. For example, concierge and guest services may be included at some communities for an additional fee.
RESIDENTIAL CARE HOME
Residential care homes are regular, private homes that have been adapted to accommodate the care of a limited number of residents (usually between 4-6 residents) Live-in caregivers provide 24-hour supervision and assistance for residents. Residential care homes offer many of the same services as larger assisted living facilities, but they do so in smaller, more home-like settings. While residential care homes tend to provide less in the way of organized activities than do larger assisted living facilities, the environment they offer is more intimate and the group dynamic more family-like. In fact, residents may share the home with the operator’s family and have the opportunity to interact with multiple generations on a regular basis. The level of care offered by care homes varies; however, most residential care homes specialize in dementia care and can accommodate a high level of care. It is important to note that most residential care homes do not accommodate dementia residents with wandering behavior, as they do not have awake staff.
Living in a residential care home is often half the cost of nursing-home care, and is sometimes also more affordable than assisted living care. However, the price can vary depending on the geographical location of the residential care home, as well as the types of services more. A residential care home typically runs $2,200 per month for a shared bedroom and $3,400 per month for a private bedroom. Most residential care homes offer both private and shared rooms.
Alzheimer’s and dementia care, also known as memory care, is often provided in a secure area of an assisted living community or nursing home, usually on a separate floor or in its wing. The secure aspect of memory care communities is intended to prevent residents from wandering off and becoming lost, which is a common and dangerous symptom of dementia disease. The security usually takes the form of alarmed exit doors rather than locked exit doors. Residents typically live in semi-private apartments or private rooms and enjoy structured activities conducted by staff members trained specially trained to care for those with dementia. Memory care requires more staff than normal assisted living, and these staff members need additional training to ensure the safety of all the residents. Therefore, the cost is usually higher than that of regular assisted living. The national average price of memory care for a single resident was almost $5,000 and up per month.
Assisted living is the fastest growing long-term care option. Assisted living communities provide a viable option for adults who are mostly independent, but who do require some assistance with medications management, help with activities of daily living, meals, and housekeeping. Residents live in private apartments that frequently feature kitchenettes. Staff is available 24 hours per day, activities and entertainment opportunities are plentiful, and transportation to appointments is available. A special area for memory care is available in some communities. Assisted living communities are licensed to care for at least 20 people, and many communities have hundreds of residents. The average cost for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment in California starts around $3,500 per month. Assisted living costs depend on some factors: size of the apartment (studio, one or two-bedroom apartment), types of services needed, and geographical location of the community.
Assisted living communities often charge a flat rate that covers many basic services, with additional fees for special services. Other communities will charge a fee for each service, known as a la carte payment so that residents only pay for services they utilize. Typically, the base rates cover only rent and meals, with care charged separately. Furthermore, entrance fees and deposits are often required. Fees and rate vary by community, so it’s vital to ask communities you are exploring about their costs and services. If you don’t have much in the way of savings or other financial assets and your income is low, you may qualify for government assistance to pay for assisted living. In some areas of California, Medi-Cal offers the Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP), designed to help Medi-Cal recipients move to an assisted living facility instead of moving into a skilled nursing facility; Medi-Cal funding pays for care delivered in the assisted living setting.
NURSING HOME/SKILLED NURSING FACILITY
Nursing homes are for individuals who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance. Typical nursing home residents suffer from severe, debilitating physical or mental conditions that leave them unable to care for themselves. They may be bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or have medical needs that require daily skilled nursing care. Communities usually have a licensed physician or nurse on the premises and often have physical and occupational therapists to cater to their residents’ needs. Many nursing homes are also stocked with medical equipment, such as X-ray machines, electronic beds and have in-house pharmacies to cater to their patients’ needs. Most facilities also provide Alzheimer’s care.
The cost of nursing home care depends on the length of a resident’s stay. Short-term stays are generally for those who have been hospitalized due to injury or illness and require supervised care while recovering. Fortunately, most short-term care is covered by Medicare for those eligible to receive benefits. Long-term stay cost is affected by the following factors: size of the room, geographical location of the community. The national median price of a semi-private room in a nursing home in California starts at $250 a day.
With this list of most common housing options for older adults, from living at home and Aging in Place to getting full-time care in assisted living. With the right information and resources, you’ll be better prepared to make informed and confident choices.
Homa is an Aging Life Care Manager, who has worked with Elder Options, Inc. since 2015. Homa brings a wealth of knowledge regarding placement, community resources, dementia, end of life care, and chronic diseases. Homa is a member in good standing with the Aging Life Care Association and her passion for Care Management has led her to volunteer with associations that assist older adults and the disabled.
Elder Options, Inc.
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