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Senior Living Blog

How Do I know If My Parent Can Afford Assisted Living?

Posted by Jan Wieder on Apr 30, 2019 8:32:00 AM

There are numerous benefits to assisted living, not only for your parent, but for you as their caregiver as well. Most importantly, it provides comfort and peace of mind for your whole family. Whether you reside close by or far away, you know your loved one is safe and well-cared for when living at a retirement community in Federal Way.

Why the hesitation to make the transition? Moving into a retirement community whether for you or our loved one can be overwhelming and it marks the beginning of a new season of life as the thought of leaving home and having to adjust to a new environment can feel challenging. Often, however that does not even include another large and looming question, is assisted living an affordable option for the family? 

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Here at Village Green, we want that to be the least of your concerns, so we have detailed out below, everything you will need to consider as you think about the financial aspects of this decision. And once that’s out of the way you can be free to focus on the best decision for you or your loved one and navigate the adjustment of change, without financial concern.

What is Assisted Living and What are the Benefits to Seniors?

Assisted living is a form of care for seniors who are still mostly independent and don't need concentrated medical care but who can no longer safely live on their own. Perhaps your parent is not able to keep up with housework or home maintenance, or they may even struggle to prepare meals and eat consistently or take their medications on time. In other words, they need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) but are not entirely dependent on another person, such as a nurse or full-time caregiver.

The benefits of choosing an assisted living community in Federal Way are plentiful, although they vary slightly depending on your unique situation and the areas in which your parent is struggling.

In general, from the adult child’s point of view, you no longer have to worry about your parent getting hurt while you are miles away and unable to help, or about them being lonely and isolated or experiencing a decline in health because of a lack of care or community. In assisted living, your loved one receives regular attention for their needs by a professional staff and is surrounded by a community of their peers. This is especially comforting if you live out of town or have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow you to help with your parent’s needs on a daily basis.

For your parents, they are relieved of responsibilities such as meal preparation; home and yard maintenance; and the numerous worries of living alone. Instead, they are welcomed into a retirement community that is focused on their interests and needs. They also have a private apartment that they can set up and decorate however they would like, so that they can feel completely at home.

Another benefit of assisted living for seniors is the ability to move up in levels of care as needed. Many seniors start out with minimal care requirements when they move into this kind of community. As their mobility or health declines, they can transition to a new, more expansive or intense level of care without waiting to find a place to live that meets their needs. In fact, some assisted living communities also have nursing care for when a resident is no longer able to provide for their own basic needs.

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What is the Cost of Assisted Living in Washington?

Assisted living can look different from community to community. Even though each establishment typically encapsulates the same basic idea of providing assistance to seniors, the actual services offered may vary by retirement campus. Some services are included in a basic package while additional care may be provided at an extra cost.

According to Genworth Financial, the monthly cost of assisted living in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region, which includes Federal Way, ranges from $2,000 per month to about $11,000 per month. The average cost is roughly $5,400 in monthly rent for an annual cost of $64,800.

According to the AARP’s online calculator, which helps help you estimate and compare the average cost of assisted living care and skilled nursing care in various regions, the cost of assisted living in the Seattle area for three years is about $175,000, while the cost of a private room in a nursing facility would be $329,750.

While researching various options, be sure to ask questions about what kind of care is included in the base rental fee set by each assisted living campus you are considering. In most communities, the rental fee covers a single apartment, meals and light housekeeping, but one-to-one care—such as help with dressing, bathing, personal hygiene or medication—will cost more. The apartments themselves can range in size, which will impact the monthly rate. It also depends on the specific services, amenities and communal spaces featured on a particular campus.

If you are trying to figure out how much to budget for assisted living for the next several years, using the base rental fee is only so helpful, as many residents will need additional care at an extra cost in the future. It’s impossible to know how long your loved one might live in assisted living. The average length of stay in an assisted living facility is about 22 months, but certainly, some residents thrive in assisted living for many years.

Options to Pay for Assisted Living

Many people delay making the move to assisted living because they are concerned about the cost. However, once you start crunching the numbers, you may be surprised to find the cost of assisted living in Federal Way is generally far less than the cost of in-home care if the resident needs help with several ADLs, such as meal preparation or personal hygiene.

Often, you may start with hiring a person or agency to come in for a few hours per week to assist with household tasks for your loved one. As their health deteriorates, the need for care will likely increase. Instead of a few hours per week, it may become several hours each day to assist with bathing, cooking meals and dressing. At this point, the hourly cost for an in-home health care worker or agency often exceeds the cost of assisted living—not to mention you still have to cover the costs of housing, utilities, transportation, groceries and more.

There are several options to help your loved one afford assisted living when the time comes. If your parent is still independent and not ready to make the move to assisted living, you might want to look into long-term care insurance. In the past, these policies didn’t pay for assisted living, or they paid only a portion, but newer policies have improved. Look for a long-term care insurance policy that includes assisted living and read the fine print. Make sure your loved one would be covered if the time comes that they need to seek out new living arrangements.

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Long-term care insurance is only an option for those who have a few years to think about the future. However, there are other strategies that can help you if the move is coming in the next few months. A few options for covering the cost of assisted living include:

1. Life insurance

If you have a whole life insurance policy that has matured, you can get the money now while the person is still alive instead of waiting for death benefits. If the policy has not matured, you can still look into cashing it out if the company is willing to buy it back at a percentage of the value.

2. Veterans’ Benefits

If your parent has served in the military, they may be eligible for certain benefits that assist in paying for residential care. Aid and Attendance is one benefit that allows veterans or their spouses to receive assistance with assisted living if their income meets certain eligibility requirements.

3. Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage allows one person to still live in the home while the other person goes to an assisted living center. This is the ideal choice for anyone who plans to sell the home someday in the future.

4. Sell a Home

If your parent owns their current home, the proceeds from the sale could help with the expenses of moving into assisted living. They could also rent it if they aren’t ready to sell to assist with the monthly fees for assisted living.

5. Bridge Loan

Your loved one may qualify for a bridge loan to help them finance moving until they can liquidate other assets. If they are selling a home or waiting for other funds to become available, this loan could eliminate the need to wait to move.

6. Annuity

Many seniors invested in annuities because it seemed like a safe way to manage their money. It’s also a good option if your parent plans to sell their home or other property. They pay in a lump sum and receive regular payments for a specified time.

7. PACE Program

Washington State’s program of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) provides long-term services and supports (LTSS) using a personalized plan of care for each enrollee. You can be enrolled in PACE in your own home or a residential setting, such as a retirement community. While PACE doesn’t pay for your housing itself, it can cover the cost of various services you may require in assisted living, including primary care, home and personal care services, nutrition services, and transportation to and from off-site appointments. To participate in PACE, you must be 55 or older; live in the service area of a PACE organization; and be eligible for nursing home care but able to live safely in the senior living community of your choice. This is a helpful option for seniors who are in long-term care and can no longer carry the financial burden alone. PACE can help supplement to cover expenses.

When calculating the cost of assisted living, you must compare it to the current expenses of your loved one. They must pay for utilities, food and upkeep of the home if they can no longer do the work themselves. They may already be paying for help with certain tasks, either through an agency or a person who comes to their home on a regular basis.

If you add up these expenses, you may discover the cost of assisted living is preferable to being a senior homeowner. When you put everything down on paper or on a spreadsheet, it can often make the move seem more affordable.

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Choosing Assisted Living in Federal Way

You don’t want to wait until a crisis has struck to think about your loved one’s long-term care and housing situation. Now is the best time to plan for the future and explore various retirement communities that offer assisted living in the Federal Way area. 

Currently, Village Green Retirement Campus knows with this past year you have enough on your plate to be worrying about so they are running a spring promotion to provide a financial cushion for new residents. For a limited time, if your parent moves in now, they will receive $10,000 in incentives that can go toward rent, paying for moving costs, waiving the community fee, or more. You simply choose the options you would like, in any combination, until the total reaches $10,000. 

To learn more about this or other ongoing promotions offered by Village Green, contact our team. We want to ensure you can plan your next steps worry free when it comes to cost and would love to sit down with you in a no pressure scenario and help you plan out the options we provide to ensure we meet your family’s specific needs. We will go over costs and care options to help you determine what is the best and affordable fit for your family and what will cover your parent’s needs in order for them to have a safe, comfortable and fulfilling life in Federal Way.

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Tags: Financial Planning