Is the house getting to be too much to care for?  Is there a need for a little assistance with personal care?  Is there a desire to have a more relaxed and carefree existence?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to investigate levels of care and alternative housing.

Looking for a living option for yourself or a loved one that will help reduce the burden of household duties and ultimately aid in personal wellbeing as aging occurs can be a little daunting. There are multiple options to consider and the appropriate choice will be determined by the level of care desired and the financial cost. 

Use the following information as a guide to understanding the various levels of care and the alternative housing options that are available as well as what each has to offer and the related costs.  

Home Care – Aging in Place

If possible, most Americans would prefer to receive care in their home. However, for aging residents to be safe at home, it may be necessary to modify the house, such as eliminating stair steps, widening doorways for walkers and wheelchairs, or making bathroom facilities more accommodating. In addition, knowledge regarding local home care agencies and community services that can meet care needs will be necessary.

  • Appropriateness:  Home care is appropriate for those who are currently independent but possibly require minor assistance with one or two activities of daily living (bathing, cooking, dressing, transferring, etc.) or medical treatments.  If full-time skilled care is necessary, the option of staying at home would be less practical as well as less affordable.
  • Costs: The median cost of home care is around $25 per hour, depending on where you live. Home care services can range from once per week to 24 hours a day, based on the needs of the individual.

Assisted Living Communities

These communities are available for those who may need assistance with daily living but do not require skilled care. Residents’ needs may include help with medications, meal preparation, housekeeping, etc. Assisted living communities offer private apartments, usually including a kitchenette. Staff is available daily for added safety and most of the communities offer transportation, social activities, exercise facilities, etc. Some also provide a memory care unit.

  • Appropriateness: Assisted living communities are appropriate for seniors who are relatively healthy but unable to perform all activities of daily living.
  • Costs: Entrance fees/deposits are often required and vary by community. A flat rate is generally charged for basic services (meals and rent); additional fees are charged for special services. In 2020, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment was $4,300 per month ($51,600 annually).

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are available for seniors who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance. In addition, skilled physical therapists and physicians are available on-site and both social activities and dining services are provided.

  • Appropriateness: Nursing home facilities are appropriate for those who suffer from a severe or debilitating physical or cognitive disability and cannot care for themselves. 
  • Costs: The average cost of a private room in a nursing home facility in 2020 was $8,821 per month ($105,852 per year).

Memory Care Facilities

Memory care is often provided in a separate wing of assisted living or nursing home facilities. The fully staffed and monitored facility provides intensive, long-term medical care to residents with serious health and dementia conditions. In addition, high security is in place to prevent residents from wandering off and becoming lost (a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia).

  • Appropriateness:  Memory care facilities are appropriate for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and require 24-hour supervised care.
  • Costs: The costs vary by community and are typically $1,000 to $4,000 per month more than basic nursing home fees.  

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

CCRCs are designed to allow individuals to remain in one community as they age, encountering changes in lifestyle and healthcare needs. They offer independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing home facilities, all on one campus. The independent living quarters may include apartments, detached homes, or townhomes. As the needs change for a resident, he/she moves to a different location within the same community.

  • Appropriateness:  CCRCs are appropriate for those who are independent and wish to live in a community with others who share the same life circumstances and want to stay in the same place as they continue to age.
  • Costs:  CCRCs typically require a “buy-in” to the community that can be similar to the cost of a median-priced home ($100,000 to $300,000). They also charge a monthly fee that can range between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the stage of care.

Summary

Determining appropriate housing options for yourself, or a loved one, in later years can be trying both emotionally and financially. Developing a plan early will help make this life transition more enjoyable and easier for you and your family.

Kathy Hower, CFP, is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a wealth management firm located in Indianapolis. For more information, visit their website at www.bedelfinancial.com or email Kathy at khower@bedelfinancial.com