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Quiz: What type of care is right for me?
Evaluate the Type of Senior Care That's Right for You

Is it time to move out of your present home? It's a complicated decision for you, the older adult, and the family. It's hard to know if now is the time, and if not, when is the time to move?

We all want the best for ourselves, our parents, and grandparents. As humans, we understand the need to feel independent and useful, but at the same time we also realize that our overall safety and well-being are more important than simple pride. If you're having trouble striking that perfect balance between self-sufficiency and assisted care, here are some questions that can help you determine where the right place is.

Top Concerns of Senior Care

Evaluate the Care That's Needed
Evaluate the Care That's Needed

Safety, wellness, and proper care. Although every situation is different, here's how to evaluate what type of care is right for you. It points to the signs to look for, the level and types of care you need, and what you can afford.

Tell-Tale Signs that say you or a loved one needs to go into assisted living; there are situations that make it obvious that it's time to begin the search.

Frailty Signs

  • Slow to mend after surgery or illness. If a loved one is slow to recover from an illness or hospital visit, it compromises health leading to frailty. This is not the time for an elderly to depend on oneself for full recovery. She may need outside assistance for care.
  • Frequent mishaps, falls, and accidents. These signs apply to bodily harm and car accidents. The older a loved one gets, the risks for accidents increases.
  • Progressive chronic illnesses or conditions play havoc on the body's strength, recovery, and wellness. Chronic conditions affect a person's gradual or rapid decline.
  • Declining self-care that affects dressing, shopping, cooking, house chores, managing medications, toileting, making appointments.

Physical Body Signs

  • Declining or increasing weight is visible through loose or tight clothing, eating and cooking less/more, and no/more food in the cupboards or refrigerator.
  • Mobility issues like holding on to furniture for balance, unsteady gait, slouching in a chair, or has difficulty rising from a couch, chair or bed. Keep an eye on your loved one during each visit for noticeable signs.
  • Grooming and personal hygiene changes reflect trouble with bathing, washing clothes, brushing teeth, shaving, washing hair, and other personal care habits.

Mental Signs

Mental signs of depression

Missed social engagements and doctors' appointments are signs of potential depression or forgetfulness. But make sure it's not the result of no longer having a driver's license and not knowing how to get alternative transportation.

Signs of depression. Feelings of hopelessness and despair, listlessness, fewer visits with friends and family, a change of sleeping patterns and lack of interest in the usual hobbies and activities are indicators of depression.

Medical Signs

Losing track of medications. Seniors often take multiple prescriptions for various health conditions. Keeping track without reminders and assistance are confusing.

Money Signs

  • Household bills piling up. Seniors can feel overwhelmed by the simple task of opening and responding to daily mail.
  • Personal mail that's ignored and unopened.
  • Mail from banks, creditors, or insurers. Check to see if these are overdue payments, overdrawn balances, recent accidents, or other concerning events.

Social Signs

Reluctance to leave the house. Rather than ask for help, seniors who are having trouble with such functions as walking, remembering and hearing will pull away from their community and isolate themselves. Unread magazines and repeat subscriptions. Look for unread newspapers in the yard or home.

Signs You Need More Care Than Assisted Living Provides

The first step for older adults that drive the search for assisted living is their need of help with daily activities. There are times when the health of a loved one may worsen and assisted living is not enough. Here are signs that it's not enough and they need full care.

  1. Signs of Increased difficulty - cannot stand on own or get into bed on own. They are able to help balance themselves with help from another person. Older adults use assisted living services for assistance with dressing, cooking, cleaning, and bathing but not to the point that they are frail and unable to do any activities alone without help.
  2. Health issues and growing concerns like memory loss, Alzheimer's or severe medical conditions that over time will need round the clock care.
  3. Memory decline is appropriate and handled in assisted living as long as it's a mild loss. If a senior begins to develop increased memory loss issues or they develop a full range Alzheimer's illness, it is a sign that extended care is necessary and assisted living is no longer enough.

Type of Care Needed

Care that's needed in assisted living

To determine the type of care you need, order a senior care evaluation or geriatric assessment. You can get one from your physician or a geriatric care manager.

A geriatric assessment is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary test designed to evaluate an older person's functional ability, physical health, cognition and mental health, and socio-environmental circumstances. It includes an extensive review of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal products, as well as a review of immunization status. It aids in the diagnosis of medical conditions; development of treatment and follow-up plans; coordination of management of care; and evaluation of long-term care needs and optimal placement.

Functional Ability

Physical Health

  • Screening for disease
  • Nutrition
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Urinary continence
  • Balance and fall prevention
  • Osteoporosis

Cognition and Mental Health

  • Depression
  • Dementia

What can you afford?

Paying for assisted living comes from private funding and your own financial resources. Other sources for paying for the long-term care include an insurance policy, Medicaid, reverse mortgage, home equity loans and other financial assistance programs.

When meeting with senior living providers, ask for written material, including copies of the community's resident agreement that outlines, at a minimum, services, prices, extra charges, move-in and move-out criteria, staffing, and house rules.

Options potential residents and their families use to pay for assisted living:

  1. Income from social security and other pensions
  2. The sale of the family home and other investments
  3. Personal retirement savings
  4. Assistance from family
  5. Long-term care insurance
  6. VA Aid and Attendance Program
  7. Settlement of a life insurance policy that is no longer needed
  8. Medicaid is available on a limited basis to income-eligible seniors
  9. Choosing to share your apartment with a roommate
  10. Determine how much you can afford

Factors that Determine Costs

Assisted Living Costs
Assisted Living Costs

Costs of assisted living vary from one facility to another. The factors that determine costs are apartment size, and types of services needed. The basic rate covers most services except special services. Most charge on a month-to-month lease arrangement.

Base rates depend on the unit size: one or two bedroom apartment, studio, or a shared or single room. Base rates cover room and board and two to three meals. You will pay additional charges for entrance fees up to one month's rent, deposits, and fees for other services such as housekeeping and laundry, though many providers include those services as well.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.