Underestimating the True Cost of Caregiving
People often underestimate the cost of caregiving. Whether it be the cost for the care of a senior living in their own home, an aging parent living with an adult child, or a senior living in a senior living community, cost becomes a primary factor that must be understood to make appropriate and effective life-impacting decisions. Each person’s situation consists of a series of unique variables that will ultimately dictate which options and solutions are available for the care needs of the aging adult. These variables include the level and frequency of care, whether the senior is on Medicaid or Medicare, has long-term care insurance, has long-term care annuity, or has the financial means to privately pay for their care. Sometimes families, including the aging senior, casually assume that when the time comes, their loved one will simply move into the charming senior living community across town only to learn later that there are care level restrictions, regulations regarding payor sources, and ancillary costs that are prohibitive to those plans. When it comes to understanding the cost of caregiving and putting yourself in the best position to make cost-effective care decisions, utilize the following five-step strategy.
1. Take Time to Plan
Most crises can be avoided with proper planning. Too often, we fall victim to human nature and put off until tomorrow that which can (and should) be done today. Then, when we are suddenly confronted with the unexpected cost of senior living placement or senior care needs, we feel overwhelmed with the cost of the immediacy of the financial expenditures required.
2. Contact a Senior Living Professional
It is not uncommon for people to jump into the waters of senior caregiving to quickly find themselves in need of a lifeline. Contact a professional that can help you navigate the senior living and care industry. Not only will this professional assist you in identifying your senior living options, they will be able to connect you with trusted financial, legal, and caregiving professionals that will provide you with the resources and guidance necessary to maximize your senior living options.
3. Fully Assess and Anticipate Care Needs
Care needs are essential to enjoying a high quality of life. Do not underestimate the level of care that you or your loved one will require, and that the senior facility is required to provide by law. Create a list of all the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that you or your loved one require assistance. These will include things like bathing, personal hygiene, medication management, meal preparation, etc. If you are in the early planning stages for senior placement, anticipate what care needs may be required in the future and figure those potential costs into your financial planning.
4. Learn the Lingo of the Senior Care Industry
Like any industry, the senior care industry has its own lingo. Learn some of the common terminology used by the industry so you can fully participate in conversations with doctors, nurses, care planners, and facility professionals.
5. Familiarize Yourself with Care Industry Regulations and Criteria
The care industry is regulated by numerous federal and state regulations designed to ensure patient safety and welfare. Likewise, each senior facility will have a set of criteria they use that determine what payor sources they are able to accept and the level of care needs they are able to provide. Some facilities will require private pay only or may not be able to provide the level of care that is required for you or your loved one. While it will not be necessary to know and recite regulations by memory, it will be to your advantage to have a general understanding of common regulations and criteria or to know how to access this information when needed.