How To Ensure You Can Afford The High Cost Of Assisted Living

As my 96-year-old grandmother likes to say, “getting old isn’t for sissies.” It’s tedious, often painful and very expensive. In fact, it’s incredibly expensive—in 2014, the national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom in an assisted living facility was $3,500, according to the 2014 Cost of Care Survey released in April by Genworth Financial Inc. of Richmond, Virginia. If you do the math, that’s $42,000 a year, and the costs have only been rising.

So how can you make sure that you (or your parents or your grandparents) can afford to live somewhere safe and comfortable? We have a few tips.

Plan For The Future

“At the end of the day, your options for paying for long-term care in this country are two: You pay (completely) out of pocket or you pay out of pocket until you get to the point where you impoverish yourself and then go on Medicaid,” David Kyllo, executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living, or NCAL, in Washington, D.C., told the finance website Bankrate.

This means that, one way or another, you’re going to have to save up.

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about these things. Although it might seem depressing, it’s just like writing a will or any other late-life planning. If you know what you want, start setting aside money now.

You also might want to look into long-term care insurance that can help bridge the gap between Medicaid and paying out of pocket.

Research Your Options

There are plenty of websites out there specifically tailored to help people navigate the confusing world of senior care. The Resource Locator Tool is an online tool that can help your family find the right assistance program. It’s free to use, and all you have to do is fill out a simple form that will help find the provider best suited to your family’s needs.

You can also turn to your state’s senior care-related Social Services. These resource centers can help you find senior living programs you might be eligible for based on financial status.

Alternatively, there are also resident service coordinators who work in assisted living communities. Their whole job is to help people find good options for their specific finances.

Consider A Loan

There are loans that exist specifically to help seniors deal with the immediate costs of assisted living. These bridge loans allow multiple co-contributors to contribute to the shared cost of elder care.

“It’s an interest-only loan that pays the assisted living facility until the house sells,” says Barbara Steinberg, founder and managing member of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions in Livingston, New Jersey.

Steinberg often recommends these kinds of loans when a senior’s situation is too dire to wait until their house sells or the family can pull together some more funds.

Whichever option you choose, it’s worth it to start thinking about these things sooner rather than later, so you’re not scrambling when the time comes.