When it comes to choosing whether to send a loved one to a nursing home or allow them to live independently, sometimes it’s more a matter of the heart than the wallet.
It’s no secret that long-term care facilities like nursing homes don’t come cheap and they’ve definitely had their fair share of bad press. Assisted living care can cost families upwards of $40,000, according to Care Giver List.
But the psychological benefits for seniors living in long-term care residences might make the financial burden worth everyone’s while in the long run.
Seniors living in nursing homes benefit greatly from having a live-in social network, staving off the isolation that can often come from going it alone, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Many long-term care facilities offer activities and outlets for the elderly to stay active, which can boost their health at the same time.
Maybe a bunch of 80-year-olds playing bridge doesn’t sound like a rip-roaring good time to some, but it’s an opportunity for seniors to mingle and even start dating again. The DHS says those who have a partner to lean on tend to need long-term care less.
Here are some factors to consider when weighing the odds between independent living or long-term care options:
Mobility. Chronic illness and disabilities are often the catalysts for long-term care, but they come with the territory of old age. In fact, 70 per cent of people over 65 will wind up in some type of assisted care facility because of it, the DHS says.
The reality of independent living. Some seniors may enjoy the independence that comes with owning the keys to their own apartment or home, but if mobility and illness are an issue, long-term care might be unavoidable. And they may wind up needing more care than those who can lean on a partner.
Lifestyle. Nursing homes, like hospitals, may be known for serving up some pretty unsavory meals, but some of the best long-term care facilities may actually improve the health of seniors through diet. According to Kiplinger’s 2008 Retirement Report, there are new nursing homes cropping up where staff are allowed to use their judgment to adjust the residents’ diets at will, which can improve their mental health overall.
Cost. Averaging 4,000 per month, assisted living care can rack up quickly for a family supporting a loved one. Federal funding from Medicaid can only go so far, so if you’re planning ahead, it’s a good idea to factor in the possibility of some sort of long-term assisted care into your retirement savings. DHS estimates we’ll all need some sort of long-term care for up to three years in our lives. With the current national average, that puts possibly long-term care at $120,000 per person.