Equifax

Finance Blog

Five Tips for Finding and Paying for Assisted Living

Written by Jacob Edward on June 27, 2014 in Retirement  |   No comments

Many seniors (or their adult children) have to confront the reality that they can no longer live independently in their home. Moving into an assisted living community may be an attractive option, but choosing—and paying for—the right facility can seem overwhelming. The move to assisted…

five-tips-for-finding-and-paying-for-assisted-livingMany seniors (or their adult children) have to confront the reality that they can no longer live independently in their home. Moving into an assisted living community may be an attractive option, but choosing—and paying for—the right facility can seem overwhelming.

The move to assisted living requires careful planning. It’s important to ensure you’re getting the best care for your money without putting too big a strain on your financial resources.

1. Identify the needs of the person who will be moving to assisted living.

Generally speaking, the need for assisted living is determined one of two ways: At the end of a hospital stay, a senior may be steered toward assisted living after being discharged. This is especially true if the senior was hospitalized for sustaining a fall or another injury while living alone. Or, a senior’s adult child may notice a severe decline in the health and living conditions of his or her parent.

In either instance, it’s important to remember that it is essential to identify any medical conditions and needs of the patient in order to find the right care. It’s also important to ensure that the senior can qualify for government assistance to pay for care, if needed.

Assisted living primarily provides help with daily necessities, including meal preparation, personal care and hygiene, and cleaning of the residence, among other day-to-day activities. However, different communities specialize in the care of different medical conditions. For example, memory care communities focus almost exclusively on the care of those who have Alzheimer’s disease or senior dementia. Knowing what needs have to be met can make choosing a facility easier.

(Read: Eleven Questions to Ask Before Moving Parents to Assisted Living)

2. Choose a community.

Assisted living communities come in many shapes and sizes, so you may want to get recommendations from a social worker or long-term care agent. Depending on the type of services provided, communities can have very different pricing—anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 per month. You may need to evaluate whether or not you want to dip into your savings in order to pay for care.

If $2,000 a month seems too expensive, you may want to consider supplemental income sources such as veteran’s benefits or Medicaid. Many larger communities offer bridge loan programs for those waiting for benefit assistance, provided you have a good credit history.

3. Consider residential care.

Most people think of assisted living as a large community of 100 to 200 residents who live in apartment-style accommodations, but there are different types of facilities, such as residential care homes or group homes. These communities typically house between five and 10 residents at a time, cared for by a small staff. For certain people, especially those with language barriers, this can be a good option.

Group homes are typically are less costly than assisted living, and pricing can vary depending on the care a patient needs.

4. Remember that Medicaid offers long-term care benefits.

Medicaid provides a benefit for long-term care, which helps ensure that those who need care but cannot afford it can find a community. Because Medicaid is administered by individual states, the program will vary depending on where you live. Qualification requirements can vary as well, but generally it is required that the patient be unable to function independently or have a health condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Programs also have different contractor networks. For example, certain states require seniors to live in state-run communities. Contact a social worker, long-term care professional, or your state’s Medicaid office to find out what is locally available to you.

5. Look into the VA Aid & Attendance (A&A) pension.

Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for an increased pension if they require the aid of another person to perform everyday functions or if they are housebound. These benefits are paid in addition to a monthly pension and are not paid to anyone ineligible for the pension. Eligible veterans must also be receiving professional care in order to apply for the benefit.

Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) can be extremely slow to process applications. In my experience, it takes approximately nine months to qualify. However, the VA does offer back pay from the date of application if you qualify. Many communities will be willing to work with you on contingency while you apply for the benefit if you turn over the back paid money to them upon qualification.

The importance of long-term thinking

Take the “long-term” part of long-term care to heart. Many people spend too much money on long-term care—assuming they’ll only need it for a short time—and ruin their finances, leaving them in a much worse financial position than they were before. If they do have to spend less money, it can be very difficult to downgrade amenities or care. You should find care that your loved ones can sustainably afford, rather than thinking of it as a temporary solution.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to medical professionals, friends, and family for guidance. By being clear headed and meticulous, you will make the right choices for yourself or your loved one.

Jacob Edward is the Manager of Senior Planning, a long-term care-planning agency in Phoenix, Arizona.

No comments yet


Leave a Comment


Name :


Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.


Retirement Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter