My Mom can’t afford to live in a retirement community, but she’s at risk living on her own. She needs more help than I can give her. What can I do?

When your parent needs more care than you provide, but you can’t afford a retirement or assisted living community you’re not out of options. Here are some solutions and programs to consider:

Different Nursing Homes

Some nursing homes will offer creative financial arrangements that can be easier for your parent and your family to manage —it’s worth asking!

It might not be ideal, but it could be worth moving your parent away from their home town to find a less expensive nursing home (especially if the move puts them closer to you).

Cut Costs

When arranging for a parent to move to a long-term care community it makes sense to cut back on some expenses to allow them to afford to live in the community for longer. For example, consider having your parent share a room, reduce their spending money, and find ways to make other cuts.

Long-Term Care Insurance

If your parent still has some assets left and you’re worried about how long they will be able to afford their care then long-term care insurance may be a solution. These policies can be expensive, but they provide peace-of-mind and the security that you’re looking for if you’re worried about your parents future care.

Life Insurance Conversion

Some insurance companies allow their clients to use their life insurance policy (or a certain amount of their policy) to pay for their living costs in retirement or assisting living facilities. You’ll have to look closely at your parent’s policy to find out if they are eligible.


Usually your parent’s other assets must be completely drained before they can access Medicare for a long-term care community. If you’re out of options, this is where to go. Medicare won’t pay for assisted living, but it will pay for your parent’s care in a nursing home, and sometimes, depending on the state you live in, some aspects of home care.

Use Their Home

If you’re trying to afford home care then consider having your parent downsize to free up some of their assets (or to reduce rent) to pay for care. If your parents own their home and don’t want to leave it they could get a reverse mortgage, which would allow them to access the equity in their home while still living in it (and receiving home care). It’s best to talk to a certified financial planner or elder care attorney first to see if a reverse mortgage is a good solution.

Other Care Aides

While you may want to arrange for nursing care or daily housekeeping for your parent, it’s possible you can get by with other kinds of help. For example, paying for a housekeeper to come in once a week to do the hardest cleaning may be better for your parent than getting a daily light clean. Similarly, while you may want round the clock nursing care for your parent, it’s possible that they may benefit from having nursing care for an hour a day combined with a local Meals on Wheels program.

Become a Caregiver

If you’re able and willing, there are many resources that can help you provide the care your parent needs. Adult-day care is one way to maintain your career while you care for your parents. Keep in mind that you may need to make modifications to your home if your parent decides to move in. If having separate quarters is important to you both, consider a home renovation loan so you can renovate your existing home to better suite your family’s needs. The other option is to look for a new home that has separate living quarters for your parent.

Your personal circumstances ultimately determine the best option for your parent. We can help you weigh your options and make the best plans for your parent and your family. Contact a Care Manager at Aging Life Network to get the support and answers you need.

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