Can’t Afford Assisted Living?

13 July 2023

Here’s Your Handy Guide

When your mom or dad starts needing more help, you might think, “My mom needs assisted living, but can’t afford it!” Maybe you’ve heard whispers of the high costs of assisted living in Puget Sound, and it’s left you feeling a bit queasy. If you’re worried about how people afford assisted living, you’re not alone. In fact, “Can’t afford assisted living” is a common concern among many families in our area. But don’t worry – there are a bunch of smart ways to make it fit within your family’s budget.

Making the Most of Assisted Living

Three Old Women Being Happy in an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living is a bit like a friendly senior neighborhood. Here in Puget Sound, your parents could live in their own comfy apartment, surrounded by folks of their own age. Plus, help is always around when they need it. It’s perfect for parents who need a little extra assistance but still want to maintain their independence.

But let’s address the elephant in the room. The costs of assisted living in our region can seem pretty steep. With the average cost ranging from $3,000 to over $6,000 per month, it can make anyone think twice. But hold on, don’t let the numbers make you feel dizzy. There are several strategies to make it work.

Navigating Financial Options

an elder couple studying their financial options for assisted living

You might be wondering, “How do people afford assisted living?” Thankfully, several resources can help:

  • Veteran’s Benefits: If either of your parents served in the military, they might qualify for help from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Aid and Attendance program. The VA’s Pension Aid & Attendance Benefit can help cover the cost of assisted living for those who qualify.
  • Life Insurance: Did you know you can cash out a life insurance policy before a person’s passing? It’s called “life insurance settlement” and could help pay for assisted living. Check the policy or contact the insurance company for details.  If you’d like to talk to professionals in your area, connect with us for some trusted professional references.  
  • Home Sale or Rental: If your parents own their home, they could sell or rent it. The profit from selling, or the regular income from renting, can help cover assisted living expenses. Make sure to check current market conditions in Puget Sound with a local real estate agency like Team Ray and Company to get an idea of potential income.
  • Medicaid: This government program helps low-income families with healthcare costs. In Washington State, the Community Options Program Entry System (COPES) may assist with the costs of assisted living for eligible seniors.

Getting the Ball Rolling

Choosing assisted living is a big decision, and the cost is definitely a significant piece of the puzzle. It’s okay to seek help in figuring it all out. Talk to financial advisors who specialize in elder care, like Aaron Steele at Steele Capital. Reach out to friends who’ve gone down this road before. Most importantly, involve your parents in the conversation. It’s their life, after all.

6 Savvy Ways to Stretch Your Budget

An elder couple and their daughter and granddaughter assessing their assisted living budget

If you’re caught in the thought, “Can’t afford assisted living?” don’t worry. Here are six clever strategies, to help make your dollars go the distance:

  1. Take Advantage of Senior Benefit Programs: Your loved one might qualify for discount programs that cover essentials for low-income seniors. With the National Council on Aging (NCOA), you can find benefits that save costs on necessities such as medication, food, dental work, vision care, and energy bills. You could then use those savings to cover assisted living costs.
  2. Seek Out Special Offers and Price Flexibility: Did you know that many assisted living communities in Puget Sound offer special deals or discounts at certain times? Ask during your tour if they can negotiate on their monthly price, offer move-in incentives or seasonal specials. They might even waive the entrance fee or offer a month free for an extended lease. It never hurts to ask!
  3. Dig into Tax Benefits: Some of your assisted living costs could be offset through tax credits and deductions. If the IRS considers your parent as “chronically ill” or if they require help with at least two Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), they could qualify for medical tax deductions. Also, you might be eligible for caregiver tax credits if you’re footing more than half of your elderly loved one’s care costs.
  4. Consider Room Sharing: Opting for a shared room could be a great way to cut costs in assisted living. It also adds companionship and a safety net for your loved one. Remember most seniors may think this is a barrier as many have lived alone for some time. Talk with your parent about this option.
  5. Tap into Assisted Living Resources: Non-profit or faith-based communities might be more budget-friendly. Senior Home Partners offers complimentary help to find cost-effective senior living advisors that suit your needs. Get a personalized guide from a local professional at no cost to you. Reach out to us about “Senior Living Guides”.
  6. Compare Costing Models: Assisted living communities usually offer two payment models: all-inclusive or a la carte. An all-inclusive payment covers everything in a single monthly fee, while a la carte allows you to pay for services individually. Depending on your parent’s needs and the amount of family help available, one option might be more affordable than the other.

Using these savvy tips can turn “Can’t afford assisted living” into “We’ve got this covered!” And remember, when it comes to securing the best care for your loved ones in Puget Sound, there are no silly questions.

In for the Long Haul

Remember, finding the right care for your parents is like running a marathon, not a sprint. It might take time to find the perfect fit, but knowing your parents are safe, comfortable, and well-cared-for will make it all worth it.

By taking a detailed look at their financial situation, exploring all possible assistance options, and consulting with professionals, you can find a path to affordable assisted living in the Puget Sound region. And at the end of the day, it’s not just about the dollars and cents – it’s about ensuring your parents can enjoy their golden years with the care and respect they deserve.

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