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How to Navigate the Process of Paying for Senior Living

As you look into senior living options for yourself or a loved one, you may be concerned about costs. What you’ll pay depends on a variety of variables, such as the level of care, location of the community, and included services and amenities.

There are multiple different factors that can also affect how you pay for assisted living or rehabilitation or other levels of senior care. The best payment method for you will depend on your individual circumstances and resources. Here are 12 creative tips to consider as you navigate the process of paying for senior living:

1. Do Your Homework

Before you can calculate costs and determine how you can pay, you’ll need to do some research. It’s important to be sure a community is a good fit for you or your loved one before you commit financially. Being sure also can save you money in the long run since you’ll avoid a costly move later.

To find the right match, visit a number of communities and ask questions about the care provided, services and amenities, the types of residences available, and pricing and payment policies.

2. Consider Location Options

In any type of housing — not just senior living — the location can influence the amount you’ll pay to live there. If you feel that your resources may not stretch enough to afford a community near you, could you consider moving to a different state or to a different area within your current state?

3. Contrast and Compare

As you identify senior living communities that may work for you or your loved one, ask about any flexibility in pricing, which could include move-in incentives. In addition, look at costs in communities that include all services and amenities in one monthly fee versus those that offer a la carte pricing.

Some communities may offer a menu of services that allows you to choose only what you need and take care of some things on your own. In addition, consider the level of care that you’ll need, understanding that the more assistance you require, the higher the costs will be.

4. Use Your Personal Income and Savings

Although it’s not an option for everyone, the simplest way to pay for senior living is out of your own savings and monthly income. Savings — whether it’s in a traditional savings account, 401(k), CDs, stocks and bonds, or another form — can cover an entry fee in a community that requires one.

Your monthly Social Security payment or pension may be sufficient to cover any monthly fees in the senior living community of your choice. To find out how far your financial assets will stretch, consult with a move-in counselor within the community.

5. Invest in an Annuity

If you have money saved but you’re worried that the funds might not last through your lifetime, you may want to look into an annuity. Buying an annuity involves an upfront payment and then receiving periodic payments over a certain period of time — in some cases, for the remainder of your life.

Purchasing an annuity can help you make your financial resources go further and ensure that you always have some income available, even if you live longer than you think you will.

6. Cash-Out Home Equity

If you’re like most people, your home is your most valuable asset and acts as a savings account of sorts. Many seniors sell their homes to pay for a move to senior living, and you may find that cashing out your home equity is a good option for you as well.

Selling your home is a big decision, and it’s one you’ll want to start considering well in advance of when you want to move to senior living. You want to have plenty of time to work with a good real estate agent to sell when the time is right and get the maximum possible value.

7. Take out a Bridge Loan

If you or your loved one want to move to senior living quickly but selling your home may take time, consider a bridge loan — a short-term loan that can provide you with funds to move to a continuing-care or assisted living community. Bridge loans typically are secured by your home and are paid back once your home sells.

Unsecured bridge loans also may be available to provide you with a lump sum payment to cover expenses for your first few months in senior living while you wait for other funds to become available.

8. Make Use of Government Assistance

If your financial assets are thin and you have a low income, you may qualify for some type of government assistance to help pay for a move to senior housing.

Depending on your state, you may be eligible for Medicaid assistance if you have a low amount of cash in addition to your car and home. Bear in mind that not all senior living communities accept Medicaid assistance.

If you’re disabled, you may qualify for Social Security supplemental income benefits. If you qualify for SSI, you receive monthly payments that can go toward paying for a move to assisted living or nursing care.

9. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance

If you believe your financial resources won’t fully cover the costs of a move to senior living, you might want to consider long-term care insurance to fill any gaps.

If you’ve already purchased long-term care insurance, contact your agency to understand how to use the policy when you’re ready to make a move. If your move is a few years out and you don’t yet have a long-term care policy, you may want to consider purchasing one.

10. Look Into Benefits for Veterans

If you or your loved one has served as a member of the U.S. armed forces, you may qualify through the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits that can help with the cost of senior living.

Veterans’ benefits can be used to defray senior living expenses in many different situations, including benefits related to disabilities or injuries from service.

11. Use a Life Insurance Policy

Did you purchase life insurance years ago? If you bought a policy in decades past thinking it might support your family in the event of your death, you may be able to cash it out. In some cases, the company that issued your policy may purchase it back from you for 50 to 75 cents on the dollar.

To find out if your life insurance policy can provide you with some financial support now, speak to your agent about living benefits or accelerated benefits. Another option is selling the policy to a third party in exchange for a settlement that provides you with a percentage of the policy value.

12. Pool Assets with Loved Ones

If you’re worried about your senior parent living alone, your siblings probably also are worried. Consider talking with family members to determine if chipping in for senior living is an option.

Particularly if you and your siblings don’t live close by, assisting with paying for senior living may be less costly in the long run than moving your parent near you or traveling frequently to assist with caregiving duties.

Havenwood Heritage Heights provides a variety of senior living options in beautiful Concord, New Hampshire. To find out more, please contact us today.

By Mike Wall


"The staff always has the residents’ concerns in mind."

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