"It is not good enough for a nation merely to have added new years to life - our objective must also be to add new life to those years." ~ President John F. Kennedy


One of the hardest decisions that a child ever has to make is to decide that their parent can no longer live their lives independently. At this difficult time, it is important to know what options exist in order to make a decision that both you and your loved one can feel comfortable with. Here are some of the options that are available to those faced with this life changing decision.

Long Term Care & Nursing Facilities

nursing-home.jpgWhen thinking about the aging population, many people's thoughts turn first to nursing home and skilled nursing care. For those people who require a higher level of assistance, this may be the best option; however, a common misconception is that Medicare will cover the costs associated with this type of facility. This is by far the most expensive option available, with costs ranging from $70,000 - $180,000 per year (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, n.d.). The average cost of living within a skilled nursing facility is $75,190 per year. This breaks down to roughly $6,265 per month. (www.AARP.com). This rate increases yearly due in part to the increasing number of people who are in need of these services. Medicare will cover only short term skilled nursing care which means that a person has 100 days of available coverage to treat acute illnesses with nursing and/or rehabilitative care. Coverage becomes effective after a qualifying 3 day stay in a hospital and lasts only until no further skilled nursing or rehabilitative services are needed. From there, the costs of nursing home care becomes an out of pocket expense. Further payment then becomes the responsibility of the patient or their family members. Once most of the patient's assets have been depleted appropriately, they may become eligible for Medicaid coverage for their stay in the long term care facility. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, n.d.).

For many seniors, the costs associated with going to a nursing home for care during their later years are overwhelming. Though some members of this population have opted to insure themselves for the future by obtaining long term care insurance, many have found the cost associated with the insurance combined with the limited benefits that it offers to be off-putting. Many long term care insurances have costly monthly rates that do not allow for many people to obtain this kind of insurance. Additionally, many have strict circumstances for which they will pay and have been found to be useless by many just at the time that the insurance is needed. If choosing to obtain a long term care insurance, it is best to do so long before any illnesses associated with aging develop. Many insurances will not insure new clients with these illnesses. (Elder Law Answers, n.d.).

Assisted Living Facilities

assisted_living.jpgAssisted living facilities are a relatively new option and are very appropriate for people who retain many of the skills that they need to live independently but require some assistance with meal preparation, housekeeping and medication management. Though these facilities allow a certain degree of independence for the elderly, there are significant costs associated with them. The average monthly cost is $4,212 per month and $50,550 annually. Additionally, many facilities offer "al la carte" services for those requiring additional assistance or food preparation services. Each service that is needed is an additional charge added to the monthly rate of the facility, which can bring the cost up expedentially. (American Association of Retired Persons, n.d.).

Independent Living Communities

Independent living facilities are designed for seniors, generally those aged 55 and over. The housing available varies from apartment-style to single family free standing homes. Generally the homes are geared toward the aging population, often being more compact, with easier navigation and assistance in yard maintenance if there is a yard. However, these facilities do not take into account any individual needs of the person, including factors caused by disease or disability. These facilities can also be called retirement communities, retirement homes, senior housing and senior apartments. Costs associated with these communities include an initial fee to enter the community, the cost of the home or apartment and a monthly charge to cover maintenance costs. (American Association of Retired Persons, nd.d).

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