The First Question Is Often “When” Not “Where”

One of the more challenging decisions for all involved is when to move from full independence at home to assistance or residential care. You can ask yourself these four questions to make the process easier for all:

  1. Is it safe and healthy to live at home or at an independent level (independent living)?
    • Is there potential for falls?
    • Is it easy to use bathrooms and kitchen?
    • Is it safe to cook meals?
    • Are medications taken as prescribed?
  2. Who is available and willing to help with care as needed?
    • Does family have the time and ability to help as needs increase?
    • What other help is available?
  3. Is it more expensive to be at home?
    • How much will upgrades cost if needed?
    • How much will nursing assistance at home cost vs. in a facility?
  4. What is the level of social interaction?
    • Is he/she isolated?
    • Would he/she benefit from social activities?

Fortunately, you don’t have to answer all of these questions on your own. 

A geriatric care manager can assess how seniors function in their home—if they can cook for themselves, manage their own medications, daily care and more. Care managers can recommend changes that are necessary, such as widening doors for wheelchairs or installing grab bars, or suggest when other living arrangements would be best.  They may suggest:

  • Independent living with modifications made to the home
  • Full-time aids for individuals with dementia or serious medical conditions
  • Moving to an assisted-living center with independent apartments but on-site health care professionals and varying levels of care available
  • Moving to a long-term care facility when the time is right

These websites can help you find a geriatric care manager near you:

Cost is often the deciding factor.

Again, you don’t have to do this on your own. A financial planner can help you compare the cost of each living arrangement to see which is best for your unique situation. You can start by adding up the costs that would be involved in living at home, including upgrades and caregivers needed, current rent or mortgage payments and taxes. You may also want to look into what long-term care insurance will cover if there is a policy in place.