In last month's post we talked about how most older adults would prefer to age in their own homes (age in place). This is often possible for a lifetime, but for some, physical and/or cognitive decline makes it necessary to look at housing options that provide care on-site. According to the recent Legg Mason study on Aging Clients, the national average cost to live in an assisted living community is $3,500 to $5,000 a month.
As we meet with our clients, we find that there are several reasons why looking for an assisted living community makes more sense than trying to age in place. These reasons can be reviewed looking at the 4 "C's": Comfort, Convenience, Companionship and Care.
Comfort in Knowing Care is Available
An older couple may find that they can no longer safely assist each other. One person may require more assistance than the other, but caregiving can be extremely difficult and can often put the healthier spouse at risk for harm. Or a widowed client, without family able to help, may find that bringing care into the home becomes too cost-prohibitive as the need for more hours of assistance escalates. Just knowing that a qualified care provider is available within the community at all times can provide comfort in the way of peace of mind.
Convenience of Resources
Assisted Living communities, while they are not "home," can provide conveniences not available to those who choose to age in place. Meals are provided, so it is no longer necessary to cook. Care providers are available on-site. And things like transportation and organized trips are readily available.
Companionship Right Outside the Door
One of the biggest challenges for older adults can be socialization and companionship. An assisted living community allows individuals the space to be by themselves, when and if they desire. But when having a conversation with someone is desired, it is literally right outside the door. Community rooms, small gathering areas, and organized social activities are readily available, providing a way to stay engaged and connected.
Care is Always There
The ability to make a call and have a care provider available in a moment's notice can be invaluable for older adults, especially those who are alone. Knowing that help is near can also ease the burden of worry.
If you or someone you know thinks they may need to look at an assisted living community in the future, I recommend (as always) planning ahead. Begin by researching assisted living communities that will fit your specific needs:
- Vicinity to your home community and/or to family members
- Services provided by the community fit your needs
- Comfort level with the community and the types of residents
Include your family members in the discussion – consider potential challenges, resources and options. And last, but not least, take a look at cost. Discussing the financial impact of future housing decisions with your financial planner is important and can help ensure financial independence for a lifetime.
Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012-2014 Sandy has been named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.
Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.
Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. C14-028648