The Cost of Care: A Family Matter

May 27, 2016

The Cost of Care: A Family Matter

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Has mom or dad made the decision to move into an assisted living community for seniors? Or maybe a loved one’s health is declining, and it’s time to move the individual into a nursing home, so they are able to receive the necessary care. These things are huge life changes, for both the individual at hand and their families. This move comes with a new home, new surroundings, and many other changes, but one thing many people forget to consider while making these decisions is money.

Senior living facilities can seem expensive. The range in cost depends on the area, the care-type the individual needs, and many other factors such as amenities. Most families tend to try to put the price aside and find a senior living arrangement that is comfortable for their parent. Unfortunately, many children end up going into debt trying to pay for senior living by himself or herself. Considering this, it’s OK to ask other family members for help when it comes to footing the bill.

But this task is much easier said than done. Money is a sensitive topic for most people, and the discussion about splitting a parent’s senior care bill can quickly turn into a heated argument. It’s important to be ready for the things you might hear during an argument, such as “Dad paid for you to go to college, but he didn’t pay for me, so you pay it," or “Mom always liked you better anyway, you pay her bills”. Remember that discussing this matter is no easy feat.

4 Tips for Talking with the Family

Thankfully, splitting the senior living bills doesn’t have to split the family. There are ways to approach the topic that will help limit the ignition of a family feud.

1. Assess the parent’s needs as a family

It’s so easy for one sibling to take the reigns and decide what type of living facility the parent should be placed in. Despite this, when it is discussed as a family, each sibling understands where the money is going and what the parent needs to be comfortable in their new home. In continuation of this, walk through each facility as a family as well. Sometimes you won’t mind paying a bit more per month for your parent to be in a facility that you’re all happy with.

2. Use the parent’s money before using your own

If the parent or parents have the money, use it before spending your own. This will help keep the children out of debt, and eventually, depending on the parent’s assets, it will help them qualify for Medicaid and make use of that money.

3. Use percentages when splitting the cost, rather than a hard number

This is the easiest way to make the situation “fair”, considering each sibling’s income may vary greatly. For example, let’s say that asking each sibling to dedicate 10 percent of his or her income to senior living costs for the parent. This ten percent could be well over $10,000 for some siblings, while around $4,000 for others.

4. Put everything that is agreed upon in writing

This may sound a bit extreme, but all too often siblings discuss and agree upon a solution, only for one individual to back out or change things up a few months down the road. Don’t hesitate to hire a lawyer to help your family work through this process, as well as assisting when it comes to tax issues. Having all agreements in writing will help limit the rise of any arguments.

Arguments and disagreements are bound to happen from time to time, but the ultimate goal in this process is the happiness and comfort of the parent.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between home care and an assisted living facility?

There are several differences between home care and assisted living. Home care means hiring a trained professional to provide care right in your home, while assisted living involves moving to a community to receive similar care. The amount of assistance that home care provides depends on your senior's needs and can be tailored accordingly. Home care can range anywhere from weekly companionship and therapy to 24-hour skilled nursing care or even hospice. In contrast, assisted living provides seniors with an enriching community of their peers and medical attention as needed, making it a flexible option for many. 

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Due to our financial situation, I simply cannot afford to put my parents in a home, but having them live with me isn’t exactly ideal. Are there any other affordable options?

We realize that senior care communities can be costly, but there are a few things to be considered. Many healthcare providers will help offset the costs of moving to a senior care community. If that’s still not financially possible, look into having a home care aid come to your parents' house a few times a week. These home care aids can be hired through an agency or independently and can provide a variety of services to take care of senior loved ones. Don’t let money get in the way of providing the care your parents deserve.

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