Long Term Living Care for Seniors: What Are My Options?

A majority of people who reach the age of 65 will need long term care sometime in their lives whether permanently or temporarily. Since women live longer than men, they generally require long term care longer, sometimes twice as long. And if you’re single, your chances increase that you will need to pay for care services. It’s not too soon to start thinking about your options before you reach an age where you can’t do everything for yourself. Let’s explore some of them.

Home Care

If you are still relatively independent but just need a bit of help, you may be able to remain in your home. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to modify your home to enable you to stay in it. This may include installing shower modifications, wheelchair ramps and emergency call systems. Services available include help with medicine and personal hygiene, housecleaning, and meal services. Those who remain in their homes often receive a combination of care from both professionals and family.

Village Living

There is a relatively new trend for active seniors called the Village Movement which is made possible through non-profit membership organizations with a national network. Like independent living, village living is for seniors who are independent. However, in the case of village living, the seniors stay in their homes rather than moving to an independent living apartment. Members get access to vetted local services such as transportation, cleaning, house maintenance and even entertainment and social events. Costs are low for membership, generally around $50 per month plus the cost of services used. The organization typically negotiates rates for many services in advance.

Independent Living

Independent living provides housing for active senior who don’t need a lot of day to day help. Couples often move into independent living together. The facility takes care of many responsibilities such as housing maintenance; housekeeping, laundry services, meal services and transportation may also be included or an option. Social activities and meeting places are available, and some may have fitness centers, pools,  tennis courts and more.  These facilities may look lot like condominium complexes, and, of course, the amenities and services vary widely.

There are 519 independent living communities in California with an average cost of $2,814 per month. It’s no surprise this is higher than the $1,729 per month national average. Of course, some communities cost much more.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is for those who need more help than they can get in an independent living environment, but who are still mobile. Services generally include nursing staff that in available 24/7, help with medication, help with dressing, bathing, transportation and housekeeping. There is usually a group dining area as well as areas for social activities. There may be more restrictions in assisted living than independent living. For example, you are less likely to be allowed to bring your dog along than you would be in an independent living arrangement.

Levels of care and services vary a lot from facility to facility. It is often possible for couples to live together in assisted living arrangements, but often one spouse needs more care than the other. Facilities vary in their flexibility with couples, so you will want to look around if you want to stay together. The average cost of assisted living in California is $3,750 per month.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are for seniors who have a debilitating illness, whether physical or mental, that results in them requiring supervised care around the clock. Often these seniors have limited mobility. Nursing home residents are under a doctor’s care, and nursing staff are always on the premises  at a greater ratio than they may be in assisted care facility. Many nursing homes have physical therapists on duty. Some nursing homes have special programs and areas for those with dementia. There are more medical facilities and equipment in a nursing home than in an assisted care facility. Nursing home costs in California average $249 per day.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities have a variety of living options within one complex, so you can start out with independent living, then if you become less able, can then move to assisted living and later to a nursing home. These facilities are for those seniors who may be quite independent now, but who want to plan for the future. They also may provide a solution for spouses who need varying levels of care. Perhaps one could stay in independent or assisted living but the other needs the care of a nursing home at least periodically. These facilities are not cheap. Typically, there is an upfront as well as a monthly payment. Fees increase as more care is required. The upfront fee can vary dramatically from under $100,000 to $1 million. Monthly fees average $3,000 across the country.