It is probably safe to say that all of us want to hold on to our independence as long as possible. This includes driving ourselves, living alone, and not having to “inconvenience” anyone else to continue our daily lifestyles. The time will inevitable arrive, however, when this is no longer possible; and we will be faced with a multitude of questions and variables that come with these changes. Finding the crossroads of “where to live, what we want, what we can afford, and what offers us peace of mind” is often a difficult place to find.
What can we afford? Let’s start here because unfortunately finances will play a huge factor in determining where you will be able to live along with which types of services will be available. Making a realistic and accurate accounting of what resources you bring to the planning table is a must. This includes actual money in the bank, monthly income, availability to other sources such as Medicare, Medicaid, VA and other private insurance. Understanding insurance coverage and determining if you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party sources of assistance can be relatively complicated and may require assistance from a knowledgeable professional.
Where you are able to live and receive health care services adds another dimension to your lifestyle equation, and is often tied to the financial resources we already addressed. The availability of adult day care, home health agencies, durable medical equipment companies (DME), private duty sitters, and other non-monetary resources such as family, friends, church members, meals-on-wheels, etc., will often assist an individual to remain in the least restrictive and most independent environment as possible.
Now we factor in the peace of mind piece to this puzzle. While families want to afford their loved ones that freedom and independence, they also have to consider what is safe for them and what living arrangement and services provide a measure of comfort for the family. For instance, what allows a family member to be able to not check on them as frequently, or keeps them from having that uneasy, “I have not heard from them today” feeling?
If you find that your current living arrangement is not working after exhausting all of the resources available at that level, where do you turn? Possible senior housing alternatives include some form of congregate living where a variety of assistive services may be available such as meals, housekeeping, and some structured social activities. The next level to consider might be assisted living, also known as personal care facilities, which are licensed by the state of Texas and must meet specified rules and regulations. The next level of care is a skilled nursing facility, which would provide 24-hour licensed nursing services for those requiring a higher level of clinical supervision.
Each of these levels comes with a variety of amenities and price ranges. Some have the availability to have financial assistance from some of the programs listed earlier. The key is to do your homework. Know what funds or financial programs you have available to you. Know what environment affords you the freedom to accommodate your lifestyle, while also meeting the peace of mind your medical needs require. Ask a lot of questions of knowledgeable professionals. There is a lot of incorrect information when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. What applies to one person may not apply to your circumstances even though they look similar. Every person’s coverage and situation is unique and must be evaluated individually. There is also the likely chance that when you do finally make the decision it may not be your last. As your needs continue to change, so do your options. Another option to consider is a community that offers multiple levels of care in a variety of settings all on one campus. One of the advantages to this option is that you develop relationships with key players within the community who become trusted ambassadors to assist you in the transitioning process.
Choosing the right type of senior housing is an important decision. Regardless of how much homework you do, even the best choice will never be the memory-filled home you remember because life is truly a series of transitions. So embrace the memories, research your options, and choose the retirement community that best fits your needs and your budget and take charge of these very important decisions. You may be surprised at the amenities you are missing.