As we age, we may find it necessary to seek out senior care for ourselves or a loved one. If so, a primary question we may face is whether we should choose home instead of a senior living community.
That question is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. To help you better manage the process, we recommend separating decisions about senior care into three categories. Let’s start with the first category below.
How Much Senior Care Can I Afford?
Broadly speaking, older adults either receive care at their existing home or they choose to move to a senior living community. Senior living communities offer different levels of care. These levels of care are often referred to as independent living, assisted living, memory or dementia care, and skilled nursing care.
Older adults who need less care typically explore independent living or assisted living communities. The cost of these communities varies greatly based on the area in which you live. In North Carolina, the average cost of assisted living is less than $4,000 per month, but there is a significant variance in cost depending on where you live in the state.
This typically includes room and board, food and some care. Residents who require heavy care should expect to pay more, up to $1,000 or more per month.
In contrast to a senior living community, traditional home care services are most often charged by the hour. Nationally, the average cost for non-medical home care is $21.00/hour. This also varies greatly based on your area.
When you make a budget for how much senior care you can afford, you’ll need to consider how many years of care you or a loved one may need. Then, you’ll need to determine what resources are available to pay for that care.
When comparing the cost of staying at home as opposed to moving to a senior living community, it’s also important to consider what you spend on your current home. This could include the cost of your mortgage if you have one along with the cost of ongoing home maintenance.
After you identify how much senior care you can afford, you’ll want to consider how much care you need.
How Much Senior Care Do I Need?
Any senior care professional worth their salt will tell you, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Often, when you’re exploring senior living for yourself or a loved one, you may be experiencing medical problems.
We often find that a little bit of support goes a long way. Simple interventions such as appropriate exercise, social connection, access to nutritious and good food, and the ability to see your doctors regularly can keep you healthier and out of the hospital as you age.
Before you start seeking out options, make a list of the items that could make life easier and help you manage your health proactively. Some questions you may think to ask yourself or a loved one could be…
Do you need help with meal preparation?
Is it difficult to perform errands or get to the doctor’s office?
Do you take your medications as prescribed?
Do you have a sufficient amount of interaction with other people?
Are you having trouble getting dressed or getting around your house throughout the day?
Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, you can assess whether it’s appropriate to seek out care at your home or if a senior living community may be a better fit.
Now that you know how much senior care you can afford and how much you need, we’ll discuss the last area you should consider when seeking out senior care.
What Matters Most to Me?
Look, we won’t sugarcoat it… getting older isn’t for sissies! We lose friends and loved ones, and we can become frustrated at some of the physical limits we may face as we age. BUT, it’s important before you or your loved ones make any decision to stop and think: “What matters most to me? Or to my loved one?”
We’ve worked with so many older adults over the years and I always ask them that question. Everyone has a different answer, but I’ll share a few of the most common ones with you.
“I don’t want to be a burden to my family.”
“I want to be able to enjoy my grandkids and my family.”
“I want to keep growing as a person. I don’t want to be forgotten.”
“I want my life to still have meaning. I want to have a purpose. I’m still useful.”
Once you know what you want most, choose the solution that helps you or your loved one get there.
It’s that simple – and it’s that hard. All at once.
If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you.