September 2, 2014
It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate for you to start thinking about elder care. Well, more and more sources are reporting that the best time may be sooner rather than later. Assisted living typically becomes a topic of discussion when you or a loved one are no longer able to handle daily activities without significant assistance. Likewise, if an individual requires medical supervision, transitioning to assisted living can give families some peace of mind knowing that their loved one will be in safe hands if an unexpected health care situation should arise.
However, many adults in the U.S. delay planning for elder care, either because of more immediate concerns (like saving for children’s college fund or a new car) or because the prospect of planning for it feels overwhelming. In actuality, if you do some preliminary planning earlier in life, you may actually feel less flustered when it’s time to make elder care decisions for you or a family member.
One important aspect of senior care is setting aside the proper finances to access care for yourself or a loved one. Unfortunately, this is one component that many people forget to factor in. A recent MoneyRates survey showed that 40 percent of adults haven’t set aside any money for elder care. While individuals may want to save themselves the anxiety of addressing this subject, avoiding it completely can actually cause more stress later on, both emotionally and financially.
Assisted living facilities cost roughly half of what nursing homes do, but the survey mentioned above also revealed that most Americans were not aware of these costs. This is important to differentiate because many Americans may think the care is identical in both types of facilities, when in reality they may have qualified for assisted living and been able to save several years of costs. Even setting aside a small sum of money in your budget each year will add up over time, and you will have a comfortable amount of savings available when you eventually need them.
It may feel strange for you to think about elder care for yourself or an aging relative, but it’s an important phase of life that deserves some pre-planning. It is beneficial to consider the different levels of care available (retirement communities, assisted living, nursing homes etc.) and it can be useful to research the relative costs of each option.
If you believe you will be responsible for helping an aging loved one in arranging their elder care, it may be helpful to begin opening up that dialogue ahead of time before the situation is more pressing. This can be as simple as asking how they feel about independent living communities or assisted living homes and expressing to them how you are willing to help, whether it is through financial assistance or by helping them visit prospective senior living communities. By creating a basic outline for how you will choose and finance elder care for your family, you can feel more at ease knowing that when the time comes, you and your family won’t be without a plan.