When caring for an aging parent falls on you, it’s important to understand your options. If your parent can no longer live independently, there are some alternative senior living situations for concerned adult children to explore.
Ahh, nursing homes. Everybody’s grandparent used to say, “If you ever put me in one of those places…,” then followed that with some sort of curse on their grown child’s head!
Now more commonly known as assisted living, these care facilities offer a higher quality of life than they used to. Residents get to live independently in their room or apartment while receiving daily, non-medical personal assistance such as bathing, dressing and help with their medications. These facilities include housekeeping and meal-related services, and work to provide valuable wellness programs and social engagement among residents.
Many assisted living facilities, if licensed to do so, can add medical care as it is needed. The cost of assisted living varies, depending on the facility and your geographic location.Medicare and/or Medicaid may cover some expenses.
If assisted living isn’t right for the family budget – or your parent refuses that lifestyle – here are some alternatives for senior care.
Adult foster care homes provide senior care in a family environment for one to three older adults at a time. Foster families provide personal care, supervision, and meals, but not medical care. This type of care is significantly less expensive than assisted living facilities. However, regulation and oversight vary from state to state – you always want to make sure you thoroughly check out any place you are considering for your parent’s care.
The EdenAlternative is more a philosophy than a different type of facility. Eden senior housing is a multi-person residential environment in which the care recipient is the decision maker in services and lifestyle choices: “This results in aging environments where seniors are much more engaged, valued, respected….” Eden, as well as The Green House Project, represents a cultural change in senior living that reportedly results in happier, more meaningful experiences than traditional care environments.
CCRCs or Life Plan Communities provide progressive levels of care on one campus. That means that seniors can live in one area as they age; they simply move from one facility to another. CCRCs typically offer four levels of living: independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care (usually, short-term rehabilitation as well as long-term care).
A modern CCRC is built around a lifestyle, with a high level of activity and social interaction. Residents typically enter the community in independent living (an area of single-family cottages, townhouses and/or multifamily buildings) and later transition to another area of care if needed.
Buying into a CCRC includes a large entrance fee (usually equivalent to a home sale), monthly fees, and a contract. A CCRC tends to be a choice made by seniors who prefer to plan for their own future care and not be a burden to their family.
The vast majority of American adults age 50 and older say they would like to age in place at home, according to AARP research. That requires an available and willing caregiver, whether that’s one family member or a combination of family members and professional caregivers.
Living in place also means making the home safe and accessible. A home assessment by an experienced Occupational Therapist (like our lead O.T. and Certified Aging in Place Specialist at Ruby) examines the space as well as how an individual uses the space. Then she makes recommendations for individualized home modifications to improve safety, comfort, and usability specifically for your aging parent.
Medicare or Medicaid usually pays for a home safety assessment to evaluate physical requirements. Additionally, there are programs that provide financial assistance for dependent seniors to remain at home, such as Medicare PACE programs and Medicaid HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) waivers.
If part of your decision about caring for an aging parent is financial (and what decision isn’t), here’s a general rule of thumb when deciding between a residential facility and home care:
If 40 hours or less per week of paid home care is required, then home care is a less expensive option than assisted living.
You can find calculators to help you determine affordable alternatives for caring for an aging parent at PayingforSeniorCare.com.
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