Living Options As Life Changes

Life changes occur for people of all ages, and for those in the senior population the choice of living options can become very important. Stairs could be more difficult to use, or an extra bedroom might be needed for a caretaker, or the bathroom may be impractical or downright dangerous for a person with poor balance. Here are some thoughts on the choices for living options.

For most of our adult lives, independent living is being in our own house or apartment. The monetary costs are taxes, insurance and repairs. Independent living facilities are usually apartments and for one monthly cost the facility takes care of all expenses, and that usually includes three meals a day and a van to take you shopping if you don’t drive. There are no stairs to navigate and there are many other residents to socialize with. When you compare the monthly cost to owning your home, it will not be significantly more than the expense of your own house after you take into consideration utilities and food. There are many excellent choices for Independent living facilities in Connecticut. A guestimate of the average monthly cost is about $4,000.

The next level for living options is assisted living. That is for people who are in need of some extra help due to physical ailments or dementia. Assisted living provides medication management, housecleaning, meals, and help with bathing. There is a staff member, but not nursing care, on call 24 hours a day so help is readily available if there is an emergency. And of course there is socialization with all the other residents. It does not include nursing level of care. It is more expensive than independent living, because there are more services. A guestimate of average monthly cost is about $8,000.

The third level is skilled nursing care in a nursing home, which is why they are called nursing homes. Obviously this is for people who need help with three or more activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, feeding themselves, administration of medicine and protection from harm, such as falling or wandering. If a person is privately paying a private room may be possible, but if that person is on Medicaid (Title 19) it will not pay for a private room so a double or triple room is required. The private pay rates in Connecticut are usually between $15,000 and $17,000 per month, so the cost is prohibitive. That is why most people in nursing homes are on Medicaid.

Over the past decade or more, another type of facility has come about, called a continuing care retirement community, that offers all these levels of care, independent, assisted living, and nursing home. The idea is that as the resident’s health and physical condition declines, he or she can move into the section that gives the appropriate care. Because the future needs are unknown, that presents a financial risk to the company owning the facility, so monthly costs are higher. They usually require an initial down payment of that could be several hundred thousand dollars, plus a monthly payment. There are several such facilities in our area of Connecticut and the selling point is that the resident will have a place to live for life, even if it is not in the same room. The resident may be paying more, but has the promise that if more care is needed, it will be provided, even if the initial money paid in runs out.

It is helpful to consult with an elder law attorney who has elder care coordinators on staff who have knowledge of the various facilities in your area of Connecticut. It’s also helpful to know that the independent living facilities, assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities are always looking to fill their apartments and will be happy to show families their facility and services. Some will even allow a few days or weeks trial stay without charge if a person is on the fence with the decision. So for the individual contemplating or needing help, there are many options available. Affordability and geographic location near family are big factors in deciding what is the best choice for a particular family, but there are many choices.

Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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