1. Understand the Cost of Care
Understand the proper level of care your loved one needs. Instead of assisted living, It might be less expensive to live in an independent retirement community and hire a home health aide to help with day-to-day needs. If a senior is seeking assisted living, get an assessment done by the nurse of each community you're looking at because they will put together a specific price plan for the level of care you need.
2. Understand the Monthly Price of a Community
Compare costs from different communities and what is included in the monthly price for each one. The amenities are different with each one, so understand what you get for that monthly rate. Some may include amenities like meals, weekly housekeeping, and laundry services while other facilities charge extra for services like these. Be sure to ask about the base rate and what it includes, and what the costs are for different levels of service.
3. Ask about the cost of different sizes of apartments even if they are not currently available.
Think about the size of apartment you really need. You might not need a 2-bedroom apartment. If you can downsize to a 1-bedroom or studio apartment the savings will be significant on a month-to-month basis. Consider how you can use the many common areas available in the community instead of paying extra for a larger apartment.
4. Find Out About Additional Fees
Many communities charge a deposit, an entrance fee, or a community fee. This is a one-time fee that varies according to the market and is usually non-refundable. Make sure you read the small print and understand what these fees are and whether or not they are refundable.
5. Ask About Incentives and Specials
You should always ask if there are incentives or specials. There are different incentives that marketing directors offer, and a lot of them aren't advertised. For instance, they may waive the entrance fee or community fèe, offer a month's rent for free or pay for moving or downsizing costs. Also, some assisted living communities have a limited number of Medicaid apartments available for those residents who outlast their funds or who have limited financial resources to begin with. Go talk to people and find out what it does take to qualify for Medicaid. Find out what those limits are, because it's going to help you understand what you need to do.
6. Plan Ahead
Don't wait until you're desperate and have limited options. Compare facilities, and get on waiting lists if they are available. Another great option: Try it before you buy it — ask to do a trial stay in a community. Talk to residents and staff during the visit to see what they're like. You can learn a lot about the community that way.
7. Locate and Tour a Model Community for each category: Independent, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Adult Family Home and CCRC.
A Model community will give you a basis for comparison of all other communities in that category.
8. Get Help from an Advisor
Whether it's someone you know who has looked for senior care before or a professional senior advisor like those at CarePatrol, getting advice from someone with recent experience in looking for senior living can be invaluable, especially if they're familiar with the various options in your area and can explain them to you. A financial advisor can also be a great help in planning ahead for the cost of senior care.