Many financial planning discussions can be tough, especially when it comes to talking with your parents. But these conversations are important for everyone involved. Take, for instance, senior housing. This can be a difficult topic to bring up to your aging parents, but a personal financial group may be able to help by providing a financial perspective.
Consider the below checklist as a guide designed to help you decide whether it’s time for you or your parents to move into senior housing. We look at the types of issues you should discuss before making a permanent move.
Assisted living can come in the following forms:
- Moving to an active adult community (55 years of age or older)
- Staying in your current home and adding one or more caregivers
- Moving to an assisted living residence
- Moving into a skilled nursing facility
According to After55.com, the national average expense for assisted living was $3,750 per month in 2017. However, there can be a wide variation in expense based on location and the level of care. In Texas, the average was $3,500 per month, or $42,000 per year.
If you’re 55 years of age or older (or are caring for a parent who is), it can be smart to talk with a financial advisor first, so he or she can help you make the right financial decisions about your living needs. Because this topic can be very emotional, an advisor can help provide unbiased information to help you make the right choice based on your situation and not your feelings. Both short- and long-term planning needs should be considered.
Staying at Home Vs. Moving
When it comes to senior living, first consider what would be needed to stay at home.
- Is it getting difficult to keep up with home maintenance?
- Is your current residence multiple-stories, therefore providing possible issues with moving around on a daily basis, especially as you continue to age?
- Could you easily modify your current residence to accommodate any physical needs? If so, what would that cost?
- Is your current residence close to family and/or friends who could stop by?
- Do you, or will you soon, need assistance to maintain your independent lifestyle, such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, cooking and laundry?
- Do you need occupation or physical therapy on a regular basis?
- Do you need a home nurse?
If you’ve decided that moving to a senior living facility makes the most sense, make sure to screen each facility for the following services:
- Does the facility offer a full range of services, from fully independent living to total care, including memory care?
- What is the initial cost?
- Do residents have private rooms or apartments?
- What is the square footage of a room or apartment?
- How much is rent?
- Are utilities (phone, Internet, power, water) included in the cost of rent?
- What is the parking situation?
- Is there a separate fee for personalized care?
- What is the cost per level of care?
- Is food provided, and if so, how much more will that cost?
- Is housekeeping included in the cost, including laundry?
- Are there onsite medical services?
- What is the security situation onsite?
- What types of activities do they offer, if any?
- If it’s an assisted living facility, what is the ratio of care providers per residents?
Also make sure to ask questions about your (or your parents’) medical coverage and/or any military benefits or Medicare assistance. If you’re working with a personal financial group like PAX Financial Group, we can also help with insurance needs, such as long-term care. At PAX Financial Group, we believe in helping clients with all of their financial needs, as it’s all interconnected.
And always visit a facility in person before making a move.
- Does the staff look happy and upbeat?
- Do the residents look happy?
Moving is one of the more stressful decisions in life (as is divorce, a new job and having children). So, get the right advice from the right personal financial group to make a move as smooth as possible.
Help for the Sandwich Generation
Decisions about senior living can be even more stressful for adult children who find themselves in the sandwich generation – caring for both their own children and their parents.
If you’re caring for parents, it’s important to establish all money and non-money expectations with your siblings. For example:
- Who is responsible for paying for home health care?
- Do Mom and Dad have enough cashflow or do you and your siblings need to chip in?
- Who will take care of medical deductibles?
- Will each sibling cover the bill for senior living equally?
- Should the wealthiest of the children cover all the costs or should they be shared regardless of financial well-being?
These are difficult, yet important questions to discuss.
Consider holding an annual family meeting, and if so, keep good records and no secrets! The hope is that, with defined roles and responsibilities, all family members can chip in to help. If communication is respectable, it can bring the family closer and avoid disagreements. Ideally, the family attitude should not be rooted in discouragement but rather one of honor and loyalty to the parents. Remember, caring for your parents will most likely not kill you, but instead, can actually make you stronger.
If you don’t hold a family meeting, someone may hold a family grudge. When in this sandwiched position, it is critical to define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved. Siblings who are caring for their parents can get overwhelmed and bitter, not because they are bad people, but because of the stress and burden of caregiving.
This material is provided by PAX Financial Group, LLC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The information herein has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note: Investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All market indices discussed are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment. Indices do not incur management fees, costs and expenses, and cannot be invested into directly. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results.