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The Right Time: When Should Seniors Sell Their Home?

It’s the age old question: when should seniors sell their home? Moving from a long time home is traumatic at any age, but especially for seniors who have lived in their home for many years. I recently helped a couple move into an assisted living facility that had lived in their home for almost 60 years! Most definitely, the move was very emotional.

In terms of financial qualifications, assisted living facilities (ALF’S) are looking for two to three years of liquid funds to pay for the monthly rental of the apartment.  Obviously, every facility is different, but a very general assessment is that an individually would need approximately $200,000 in liquid funds to move into an assisted living. If you had $200,000 in savings in addition to any monthly social security and pension, you would not need to sell the house before moving to an ALF. If you needed the funds to pay for the monthly rental because you did not have the savings available, then yes, you would need to sell your home.

Of course, if you decide not sell your house upon admittance to an ALF, it becomes a little more complicated. You have to deal with maintenance, repairs, insurances and taxes on the property. And as an ALF resident, it may be hard to keep up with those demands. Realistically, you may need to hire someone to oversee the day-to-day management or entrust a family member.

Seniors Sell Their Home

Traditionally, the real estate market peaks in the spring. Very often, however, one does not have the luxury of planning a move to an ALF if the move is precipitated by a fall or an illness. The best strategy is to talk with a real estate professional sooner rather than later. This way you can obtain a realistic selling price of your home as well as an estimate on how quickly the house will sell on today’s market.

Clearly, moving to an ALF paves the way for a new lifestyle – and new opportunities. Living alone versus the socialization available in an ALF should also play role in your decision.  For many seniors, it is a relief to move away from the responsibilities of home ownership.

Keep in mind it is never too early to begin talking about making a move. When  seniors sell their homes they need to be prepared. Psychologically, it takes time to adjust – for both the senior and the family. It is not an easy process, but when handled correctly, making the transition to an independent or assisted living facility can be a very positive next step.

Life at an Assisted Living

Today’s Assisted Living Facilities

There’s more than Bingo at today’s Assisted Living Facilities. These days senior care facilities offer more activities than ever before. Below is an excerpt from Rick Weisberg’s Senior Solutions column which details the available options.

Q: My mother has always been a fairly active person, but over the last year, my brother and I have noticed that she sits at home alone most of the time. She is 85 and we are considering moving her into an assisted living facility (ALF) so she’ll be with other people. Can you describe some of the activities and programs that assisted livings typically offer their residents?

A: Isolation is a very real – and serious –problem for seniors as they age at home. One the key reasons many seniors (and their families) decide upon a move to an assisted living revolves around socialization. Today’s assisted living facilities offer more activities than ever before. As seniors get older, it becomes harder to maintain contact with their friends. Their social circle becomes smaller and smaller.

The good news is that today’s assisted livings offer a myriad of social and recreational activities. As one would expect, card games such as Bingo, canasta and poker are a popular activity for seniors. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. These games stimulate brain activity and provide an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon or evening.  But the scope of activities offered at an ALF goes way beyond card games.

Classes and lectures span a multitude of topics. Most ALF’s offer regular exercise classes:  low-impact aerobics exercises, strength training with light weights and bands, flexibility and balance classes, dancing, walking clubs and yoga. Computer classes have become increasingly popular and are usually encouraged by the senior’s family.  One of the well-attended sessions: current events. These talks are quite lively – especially these days!

dancing-at-alf
Dancing at Assisted Living Facilities

Music therapy has been shown to help some seniors restore and maintain their health. Most assisted livings offer programs and activities focusing on music.  For example, pianists are often brought in to play and sing classic songs and show tunes. Surprisingly – or at least it was to me –Activity Directors are also accomplished musicians. I have seen many events where the Activities Director has been instrumental in persuading the residents to sing and dance. The fact remains that people love music!

Let’s not forget the universal appeal of animals. Pet therapy has become extremely prevalent over the last few years.  Studies have shown that animals positively impact the physical and mental well-being of seniors.

An important part of the socialization process at assisted livings – and one of the most rewarding –are the intergenerational programs. The residents and children who visit form emotional bonds that create memories for both. They create art projects together or perform in plays. Studies have shown that seniors are often in better spirits after spending time with children, suggesting such interactions may have lasting effects.

Residents also look forward to scheduled trips such as museum and movie outings, shopping and bus tours of historical sights. Restaurants trips are a weekly occurrence at most assisted livings. The trips are planned well in advanced, with adequate staff members in attendance.

Clearly, there are numerous socialization options for residents. Every resident is different and participation varies from senior to senior. But with a little encouragement from staff and family members, your mom will most likely partake in some of the daily activities. And you and your brother will feel better knowing she is not alone.

activities-at-assisted-liivng-facilities
Activities at Today’s Assisted Living Facilities

Making Friends at an Assisted Living

“Making Friends at an Assisted Living” is a new column written by Rick Weisberg   in the Jewish Journal.  The series addresses the needs of seniors and their families. Take a look:

Senior Solutions

by Rick Weisberg

Special to the Journal 

Q: My mom is considering moving to an assisted living in the Boston area, but I am worried that she will be lonely. She doesn’t play cards and is not one for participating in group activities. How will she make friends? The thought of leaving her there alone is making me anxious.

A: Moving one’s parent into an assisted living can be a traumatic experience for the entire family. Grown-up children often compare it to the first day of school – only this is a reverse scenario! Remember that feeling when you left your child alone at school or day care for the first time? It’s emotional and nerve-wracking, to say the least.

There are, however, strategies you can employ that will help seniors acclimate to a new living environment. First, enlist the help of the Executive Director, Marketing Director and Wellness Director in introducing your parent to other residents. They know all the residents well and can put your mom or dad together with other residents who share similar interests and backgrounds.

Meal times, of course, are key to making friends at an assisted living.  The  staff will place your parent at a table the very first day. If, after a few days, your mom or dad is not happy, do not hesitate to ask – even insist – upon changing tables. Meals are an important part of the socialization process and finding the right table mates is crucial. Sometimes it just takes a few weeks to get the right mix of individuals.

Making friends at an assisted living
Staff and resident relationships are an integral part of the assisted living experience

Staff and resident relationships are an integral part of the assisted living experience. Often, these are the relationships that come first and mean so much to the elders and their families. Keep in mind that staff members visit with residents throughout the day, alleviating loneliness and fostering communications. They are also a terrific resource for the family. Most facilities encourage family members to call or email staff members so they can check-in on how one’s parent is adjusting to the transition.

Recreational planned activities are obviously a great way to make friends. Some people resist scheduled events and that is absolutely fine. But who doesn’t enjoy weekly spa and salon appointments? These routine events inevitably lead to friendships among both the staff and the residents themselves. Encourage your parent to go to the café for a light snack, read in the library or just sit outside on the patio. There are always people out and about.

All assisted livings host family days with special events for the residents and their families. This is a wonderful way to meet new people. Talking with other families who are going through the same situation can be extremely helpful.

Like any new situation, the transition to an assisted living is complicated. But you’ll be amazed how quickly seniors adapt to new surroundings, especially when they are relieved of cooking, cleaning and housekeeping responsibilities. Give it three months and I suspect one day you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see your mom or dad are introducing new friends. In fact, he or she may even cancel plans with you because of a busy social calendar. Now, wouldn’t that make you feel good?

Send questions about senior issues to rick@assistedlivingnationwide.com, call 617-513-7067 or mail to Senior Solutions, 27 Congress Street, Suite 501, Salem, MA 01970. Rick Weisberg is president of Assisted Living Nationwide, a firm that helps seniors and their families find the most appropriate assisted living facility, based on the family’s criteria. There are no fees for his services. Rick is also a realtor and is affiliated Benoit Mizner Simon & Co.

Many Different Models of Assisted Living

Senior Solutions

By Rick Weisberg

Published April 14, 2016

Q: Recently our family started researching assisted living facilities (ALF) for my parents, who are in their mid-eighties. The process seems a little overwhelming! Can you explain the different models of assisted living?

A: Basically, there are four models of assisted living facilities. Let’s start with independent living. Individuals and couples who live in these residences do not need any help with activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and continence). As a result, they do not require any extra time from the staff over and above the basic 45 minutes to one hour provided by most assisted living facilities. Apartments are equipped with full kitchens; there are on-site staff members who provide minimal supervision and there usually are many social and recreational activities. A choice of restaurants and meal plans are often offered at an additional charge.

Traditional assisted living facilities are yet another option and currently are the most popular model in the US. Apartments range from studios to one to two bedrooms; both individuals and couples occupy these apartments, although couples will need to pay a higher fee. Meals are included, as well as a wide range of activities. Typically, residents require extra time from the staff because they need help with some or all activities of daily living. The facilities perform a medical assessment by an RN to determine how much daily support is necessary. Additional help would cost anywhere from $350 to $2000 per month over and above the base monthly rental.

For individuals with memory issues, a memory unit within a traditional ALF would be appropriate. This third model of care is the most common in this country for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Generally, individuals live in private or shared rooms in a separate area that is safe and secure. Activities thought to help memory issues such as music and art therapy are offered as well as 24-hour supervised care. Memory housing is more costly than other assisted living scenarios due to the amount of specialized care required by these individuals. Overall, the cost would be approximately $2,000 a month more than the base room charge.

Lastly, let’s explore stand-alone memory only assisted living. This model is a fairly new type of ALF, but one that is becoming more prevalent throughout the country, especially in Massachusetts. All residents are memory impaired and all activities are geared towards this population. The monthly rental cost would be at the highest level due to the amount of services provided to these residents.

All of the above models of assisted living assume the apartment will be a monthly rental. In most ALF’s today, rentals are the accepted manner of payment for the apartment. However, some ALF’s still require an up-front buy-in fee and charge a smaller monthly community fee.

As you can see, there are numerous choices in finding the right assisted living facility. The key is to first determine the level of care required for the elder and then explore the options within that category.

Send questions about senior issues to editor@jewishjournal.org or mail to Senior Solutions, 27 Congress Street, Suite 501, Salem, MA 01970. Rick Weisberg is president of Assisted Living Nationwide, a firm that helps seniors and their families find the most appropriate assisted living facility, based on the family’s criteria. There are no fees for his services. Rick is also a realtor and is affiliated with Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Contact Rick at rick@assistedlivingnationwide.com or call 617-513-7067.

Senior Solutions: When Parents Can No Longer Live Alone

JJ

 

 

by Rick Weisberg

Special to the Journal

Published February 18, 2016, issue of February 18, 2016.

“Senior Solutions” addresses what to do when parents can no longer live alone? The phrase “it’s complicated” probably sums it up best. Emotions can run high even in the most well-adjusted families when discussing senior living options, support services, health and financial issues.  In this column, we’ll address frequently asked questions by seniors and their families.

Q: We recently moved my mom into an assisted living facility close to my sister and me. She seems happy, but steadfastly refuses to participate in any of the activities. Should we continue to encourage her – or just let her be?

A: Activities do play an important role in an assisted living, but keep in mind they are only one component of the day-to-day routine. In fact, meals times are probably the most social activity and a great way to create friendships. (Reviews of the food are always a lively topic of conversation!) Talk to the Executive Director and/or Wellness Director and ask their opinion as to how your mom is adjusting to her new environment.

Q: What is the difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility? Also, how do I know if my father meets the criteria to live in assisted living?

A: Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide 24-hour, round the clock nursing care. Residents live in one room, often shared – as opposed to apartments. Assisted living facilities offer studios, one bedroom or, in some cases, two bedroom apartments with a support staff such as a Wellness Director (RN) and aides to help residents with the activities of daily living. In terms of eligibility, all assisted living facilities will conduct a medical assessment to determine if an individual qualifies to live in an assisted living.

Q: My mother and father are both in their early eighties. What should our family do now to plan for their future?

A: The first step is to organize a family meeting with your parents and discuss where they envision themselves living as they get older. It’s best not to wait until a crisis such as a fall or illness occurs and you are literally forced to make a decision within days. Of course, this is easier said than done. None of us really want to think about the time when our parents can no longer live alone.

Q: My husband passed away 10 years ago and I moved into a two bedroom condo. I am 85, live alone – and love it! The problem is that both my children live out-of-state and have been pressuring me to move into an assisted living. I know they worry about me, but I treasure my privacy. Are there steps I can take to reassure them while remaining in my home?

A: You sound like you are enjoying your life. Certainly there’s no reason to make a change if you’re able to live independently, but there are steps you can take to ensure your safety, and allow your children to worry less. For example, make sure your home is equipped with medical alert buttons, safety devices in the bathroom and activity sensors. Many families work out a schedule where family member(s) will call in the morning, at lunchtime and again in the evening. It’s important to check in often. Plus, hearing a loved one’s voice – even for a few minutes – can create a special bond for both the senior and the family member.

Rick Weisberg is president of Assisted Living Nationwide, a firm that helps seniors and their families find the most appropriate assisted living facility, based on the family’s criteria, free of charge. “Senior Solutions” appears monthly in the Jewish Journal. Contact Rick at rick@assistedlivingnationwide.com.

 

Stay At Home or Move to An Assisted Living?

One of the biggest decisions facing a family is whether a senior should stay at home or move into an assisted living facility. There are many factors involved with this decision and, as always the case, there is usually no clear-cut answer.

Staying at Home

The most comfortable – and easiest decision – is to stay at home. Typically, this is the residence where the senior has resided for a very long time. If the senior needs help with activities of daily living, services from a Home Health agency can be added. Of course, there is a cost involved with these services, depending on how many hours per week are needed. The family is often involved when the senior stays at home. There are calls at all hours of the day and your attention is needed. This may disrupt your daily routine as the needs of the senior become a family priority. Additionally, there are social implications of staying home. Basically the senior is alone except for the Home Health aide and any family visits. Clearly there are logistical questions that need to be decided: who takes the senior to the doctor and makes sure they are eating properly? Who visits on a regular basis? And who steps up in a medical emergency?

Moving to an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living can often be the right choice, although a whole new set of factors would have to be examined before making this decision. What is the cost of the assisted living facility versus staying at home? The cost would include the basic rental charge which is determined by the size of the apartment. An added cost is the care charges, based on how many hours a week care is needed from the staff. Also, families need to factor in is the Community Fee, a onetime charge, which is nonrefundable. Three meals a day are provided and that cost savings needs to be factored into the decision. Socialization is now completely changed as there are many other seniors, in similar condition, living at the assisted living facility. One important advantage: doctors are brought into the facility from doctor services and/or there is transportation available to take the senior to medical appointments. Keep in mind that seniors seem to thrive in this environment, but there are many cases where the senior goes downhill after the traumatic ordeal of moving from their home.

Decision Time

As you can see, it’s an extremely difficult hard decision. Assisted Living Nationwide can help find you the appropriate facility. The service is free of charge and we work with facilities all over the country. Let our expertise help guide you to make the right decision. It’s too important to you, your family and your loved one

Five Questions To Ask An Assisted Living Facility

Finding the right assisted living for you or a family member is often time-consuming – and certainly a bit overwhelming. The most effective strategy is to compile a list of questions to ask an assisted living facility during a scheduled tour. Below are five questions designed to help you find the right assisted living in terms of staffing, rates, activities, meal times and social interaction.

  1. How many hours of care per month of are included in the monthly rental charge?

Typically assisted living facilities include one hour a day of care services, but each facility is different. Additional support can be costly, so make sure you find out any hidden costs up front.

  1. Can we schedule the tour close to lunch or dinner?

Meal times are the only time per day to obverse most of the residents together as well as the social interaction among staff members and the residents. And, of course, it is a good idea to sample the food!

  1. Can we meet the staff?

It’s important to meet both the Executive Director and the Wellness Director/RN. These individuals will be your day-to-day contacts. The Wellness Director, in particular, will be in charge of the resident’s care plan. Do ask about their background, how long they have been at the facility and staff turnover rate. Always ask how long they have been at the assisted living facility.

  1. Can we observe the daily activities?

You want to make sure there are enough activities that meet the interests of your mother or father. Do ask for the calendar of activities. Most facilities put out the schedule on a monthly basis.

  1. What are the monthly rental charges, care charges and the current availability of apartments?

Rates can change quickly so it’s a good idea to lock in a rate when you first tour to avoid higher rates at move-in time. Always determine if there is any flexibility in the rates. After all, it never hurts to ask!

Assisted Living Nationwide will quickly and efficiently find the three best assisted living facilities based on the family’s criteria. We will schedule the tours and give you information on the facility, the corporation that owns the facility and other relevant data. The five questions above help in making this very important decision.

 

Assisted Living For Couples

Assisted living for couples presents it’s own set of challenges. Assisted Living Nationwide has worked with several couples to help find an assisted living facility. With couples, it’s not unusual for the husband and wife to have different priorities and care needs. Let’s look at a recent scenario.

Sheryl, an 83 year old, is showing signs of early memory loss. She uses a walker and needs help with several activities of daily living. David, her 85 year old husband, is fairly independent. He is still driving, enjoys playing golf and maintains an active social with his friends.

As you can see, each of these two individuals desire different amenities and support services in an assisted living facility. Sheryl needs a staff that can help her with the activities of daily living as well an on-site memory residence, so that if her memory loss worsens, she can move into that area. David does not need much help at this stage and is looking for other males who are similar to him. Although they discussed the possibility of David staying in their home and Sheryl moving to the assisted living, they ultimately decided against that option. They really wanted to continue living together.

Assisted Living Nationwide scheduled tours at three different assisted living facilities within a 20 mile radius of their current home. Their final choice: a facility with a good-sized group of male residents so that David would be able socialize and enjoy many of the activities. This same facility also had a very reputable memory unit, if Sheryl ultimately needed to be moved into these residences. There was a discussion of the husband staying at home and only the wife moving to the ALF, but that rarely is the final choice as couples stay usually together.

It has been three months since Sheryl and David have moved into the assisted living of their choice. David is busy with many activities, trips and socializing with both old and new friends. He and Sheryl eat meals together in the on-site restaurants or café. And Sheryl gets help every morning and evening with dressing, bathing and medication reminders. Both and David feel confident that, for them, this facility was the right choice.

Assisted living for couples can be a bit more complex than finding a place for one individual, but keep in mind there are many options in every state in the country. You just have to know how to where to find them.

Why Assisted Living Nationwide?

With the internet being such a valuable research tool, some people wonder why families and seniors can’t find their own assisted living facilities. They can, of course, but there are many facts, questions and parameters about moving to an assisted living that make the process complex and time-consuming.

Here are just a few reasons why a trusted placement service can save you time and money:

Qualifying for Assisted Living

There are many factors that assisted living take into consideration when admitting new residents. The individuals have to be able to live independently with support services. Assisted Living Nationwide can advise you and your family on the parameters and assessment process.

Time is of the Essence

Very often, the need for an assisted living arises from an elder taking a fall or a recent illness. The individual can no longer live alone, but cannot stay any longer in a rehab. Assisted Living Nationwide has found and facilitated a move into an assisted living facility in a matter of days.

Industry Knowledge and Contacts

With thousands of assisted livings across the country, it’s hard for the general public to know the most reputable and highest ranked facilities in every state. Assisted Living Nationwide has the expertise and contacts to make sure you pick the best assisted living that fits your needs.

Questions and Negotiation Tactics

Like everything in life, it helps to know the lay of the land and the right questions to ask. Many assisted livings have promotions, incentives and/or are willing to lock in a lower rental rate for a period of time. You just have to know the right questions to ask!

Keep in mind that while Assisted Living Nationwide is not the largest senior placement company in the country, however, its reputation, testimonials and personalized service go a long way in making the transition to an assisted living as easy as possible. After all, choosing an assisting living should — and can be — a positive and enjoyable experience for the entire family.

Choosing an Assisted Living Location

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Today there are more options than ever before in choosing an assisted living facility (ALF). There are, in fact, thousands of ALF’s across the country. How does a couple or individual decide which geographic location would be best? Most likely, there will be an assisted living in whichever location you decide to live.

Here, from Assisted Living Nationwide, are some guidelines on how to choose the right assisted living location:

Live Near Your Children

As you age, family is so important, for many reasons, including socialization and health care decisions. Residing in an assisted living close to one or more family members is a plus for both the elder and the family. Make it as easy as possible for families to visit the ALF.

Choose Your Setting

Decide upon a suburban or city setting. Maybe you are one who likes the outdoors with walking trails, gardens and many acres to explore. Or maybe, you like the city with access to theatre, movies, museums, restaurants etc. Do consider the interests, hobbies and lifestyle of the senior before touring an ALF.

Weathering On

As you age, those long winters are quite depressing. There is a reason why there are so many assisted living facilities in such states as Florida, Arizona and California. This is definitely the plus-side to living in a warm climate in your later years. All other factors being equal, this can be a very pleasant environment for an assisted living.

 Move Back to the City Where You were Born

Not surprisingly, many people move back to the area where they grew up. There are memories, connections and familiarity. Your childhood friends my still live in the area or even be residents at the ALF of your choice.

The good news is that today people have more options than ever before in choosing an assisted living facility. Think of this next step as an exciting life choice. It may very well turn out to be the best decision for you you — and yout entire family.

Assisted Living Nationwide