Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Heading Into Assisted Living

Assisted Living. Those two little words have a lot of emotions involved with them.  For some, assisted living means the chance to have their own space but still receive the care they need.  For others it is the end of their lives as they know it.  For families, assisted living can be an answer to medical needs, or it can be a symbol of failure to care for your family member. 

Not all assisted living facilities are created equal, which means their cost, their services, and their amenities differ far and wide. Some facilities are meant to only house residents with basic needs, while others transition into full skilled nursing centers.  Some facilities are mini resorts, while others feel old, run down and crowded.

Choosing an assisted living complex can be a tough choice.  You have to take into consideration budget, services, insurance, and proximity to loved ones.  Very few people have selected a facility before they need to live there, so time can also be a consideration.

As a company, Prepared Binder places a high value on preparedness.  However, we recognize some things are easier to prepare for than others.  When our emotions get involved we tend to push reality aside and ignore the details we need to arrange. Very few of us eagerly look forward to the time when we can no longer live on our own. We don't relish the idea of our basic needs being handed off to strangers.  It may feel a little demoralizing.

With that knowledge we also need to look at reality.  As they say, only two things are certain, death and taxes.  The part we are concerned with is what happens before death. Having a plan for assisted living makes sense for a few reasons.
  1. You need to know where you are going to live. You wouldn't want to move across the country without knowing where you were going to stay, yet so many people are forced to select an assisted living facility during an unexpected medical situation.  Very often they have never toured local facilities and have no idea what options there are. Knowing where you are going to live is an important part of feeling in control of your life when your medical needs change.
  2. Your family wants what is best for you...but they may not know what that is.  I can only imagine how many grown children are called to their aging parent's bedside and asked to make arrangements for their continued care. There are a lot of questions to be answered.  Finances, insurance, expectations and practical details all need to be taken into consideration when selecting a facility to live in.  These details are something you know yourself, but your children may not. If you want to end up where you will be happiest, make the choice yourself.
  3. You may have legal details to deal with.  Depending on how your estate is arranged, you may need to transfer funds, identify beneficiaries, or dispose of property.  If you plan to move out of state you may need to append your will or trust.  While most of this can be done when needed, having a grasp on how your decisions affect your estate will greatly simplify matters down the road.
So take the time to think this through.  Take stock of your finances and determine which facility is right for you.  Hopefully you will not need this type of care for a good long while, but if you do, at least you will be prepared.

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