Housing options depend on needs and financial resources

Dear senior informed: Can you decipher the different types of housing options available to seniors and recommend some good resources to locate them? I need to find a place for my elderly mother and I would need some help. – Overwhelmed girl

Dear overwhelmed: There is a wide range of housing options for seniors, but what is right for your mom will depend on her needs and financial situation. Here is an overview of the different levels of retirement homes and some resources to help you choose one.

>> Independent living: If your mom is relatively healthy and independent, independent living communities are a great option that can provide a sense of community. Usually accessible to people over the age of 55, this type of senior housing usually consists of fully functional apartments or townhouses. In addition, many communities also offer amenities such as meals served in a shared dining room, housekeeping services, transportation, and a variety of social activities.

To locate this type of housing, contact your regional agency on aging (call 800-677-1116 for your local number) or use an online search tool like Caring.com. Most of these communities are pay-only and their cost can vary widely, ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 6,000 per month.

>> Assisted living: If your mom needs help with tasks of daily living, she’ll likely need an assisted living facility. These facilities provide assistance with activities of daily living – such as bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet – as needed, as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, social activities and medication management. Many facilities also offer special memory care units for residents with dementia.

The costs for assisted living are generally between $ 3,000 and $ 6,000 per month, depending on the location and the services required. Most residents pay for Assisted Living out of their personal funds, while some have long-term care insurance policies. And today, many state Medicaid programs also cover certain living expenses for financially eligible residents.

Another similar option, but less expensive, is the retirement home. These offer many of the same services as assisted living facilities, but in a much smaller family setting.

Your Regional Aging Agency is again a good resource for finding assisted living and retirement homes, as is Caring.com.

>> Retirement homes : If your mom needs ongoing medical and personal care or has very limited mobility, a nursing home, which provides skilled nursing care around the clock, is the next option. To find a good one, use the Medicare Nursing Home Comparison Tool at Medicare.gov/care-compare. This tool will not only help you locate nursing homes, but it also provides a 5 star rating system on health inspections, personnel, quality of care and overall rating.

But be aware that nursing home care is very expensive, between $ 4,500 and $ 13,000 per month for a semi-private room, depending on where you live. Most residents pay from personal funds, a long-term care insurance policy, or Medicaid when their savings are depleted.

>> Continuing Care Retirement Communities: If your mom has the financial resources, a CPAB is another option that provides all levels of housing (independent living, assisted living, and skilled home care) in one convenient location. But these communities typically charge high entry fees that can range from $ 20,000 to $ 500,000 or more, as well as ongoing monthly service charges that range from around $ 2,000 to over $ 4,000. To search for CCRCs, visit Caring.com.

Need help?

If you’re not sure what your mom needs, consider hiring a long-term care expert (AgingLifeCare.org) who can assess your mom and find suitable accommodation for her – fees typically range from $ 300 and $ 800. You can also use a free senior care counseling service like A Place for Mom (APlaceFor Mom.com). They are paid by the retirement homes in their network.

Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” and the author of “The Savvy Senior”. Send your questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.

Louis R. Hancock