According to AARP research, nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their home. Often referred to as “aging in place,” this option can be possible depending on the senior’s need for care and their financial resources.
To build a financial plan for aging in place, it’s important to explore all benefits that might be available, both at the state and federal level. VA aid and attendance programs, for example, are often overlooked, and provide benefits for both veterans and their surviving spouses. National programs like PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) help people stay out of nursing home care. If the senior can’t age in place, they can help find a Medicaid-covered group home with several other seniors living in a familiar, home-like setting.
It’s also important to investigate any long-term care insurance policies. While the older policies may state that they only cover nursing homes, it is worth having someone contact the insurer and advocate for home health care, which is much less expensive unless the person needs round the clock care. Insurers are often happy to approve payment for several hours of in-home care per day vs. the monthly expense of a full nursing home facility.
There are also life insurance companies that will help cash out the face value of life insurance to pay for care. Reverse mortgage can also be helpful if you or your loved one is very committed to staying at home; typically you would want to stay in the home at least five years in order for the reverse mortgage to pay off.
As far as the safety of aging in place, many technical advances in equipment help people stay more independent. If you or your loved one is at risk alone, Life Alert ($45/50 a month) is now made to be motion-sensitive, so it automatically goes off if there is a fall. The bath tub can be converted to a low-entry shower to make bathing safer. Bed alarms and mats are available for next to the bed, sending an alert if there is any wandering.
One critically important benefit under Medicare is that an OT can come to the home and review all safety hazards, so you can know exactly what changes need to be made to create a safer environment. This will also give you a much better idea of the practicality of aging in place.