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Making the decision to move into senior retirement apartments is never easy. After all, it is a major life change. So when couples have the ability to move together, that decision becomes a bit easier.
There are many older couples who make this decision. For example, one of the individuals may have a deteriorating health condition, but it is out of the question for the other to continue caring for them. It becomes no simple thing to continue providing care, especially if their condition is Alzheimer’s disease. A common and dangerous symptom of Alzheimer’s is wandering. When this happens in the middle of the night, you can imagine the stress that this could cause their partner.
However, in this example, moving their partner into an assisted living home and then living alone is also out of the question. The result in this hypothetical example would be depression and loneliness. The individual with Alzheimer’s could experience worse conditions without his partner at his side also. The solution, then, is for the couple to move into senior retirement apartments together.
Luckily, the majority of senior living communities will accommodate couples who’d like to live together. The way it works is that these communities usually provide options for both individuals to live in the same residence, and each receives and pays for their own care.
As we said, most communities, whether it’s an independent living, assisted living, memory care, or nursing facility, will accommodate senior couples that want to live together – even when both partners have different levels of required care.
Also, couples will be able to choose among different apartment layouts (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, suites, etc.) in various types of communities. The majority of senior retirement apartments include amenities that you’d find in an upscale condo, including nice views, private bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, hand-held showers, as well as wheelchair accessibility. Couples have the freedom to select their preferred apartment size, levels of care, and features that they want.
To ensure that both spouses get the care they need in their new residence, their abilities and individual needs and requirements must be ascertained. Usually, assessment for potential residents will include an evaluation of chronic illnesses, dietary requirements, behaviors, ability to take necessary medications, communication skills, ability to complete ADLs (activities of daily living), the need for assistive devices, and more.
The assessment may be done by a physician, geriatric care manager (aka aging life care professional), social worker, or a nurse who works at the senior living community in question. When a couple understands what their care needs will be, they will be able to rule out some of the options for senior living. For instance, say that both partners require some assistance with ADLs. In that case, an independent living community wouldn’t be very suitable unless they also opt for hiring in-home care services. Our general recommendation is that the spouse who requires the greatest amount of care should dictate the kind of senior living facility that the couple moves into.
After the couple has chosen a community that will fulfill their general requirements, a staff member will do a thorough assessment of each individual before the move-in date. The evaluation will determine the level of care that each spouse needs and the services that will go along with that as well as costs. Also, a follow-up assessment should be done 30 days after the move, as well as every six months afterward.
Costs of senior retirement apartments for couples vary depending on the care setting and level of care each individual requires. Estimating costs can be more difficult if one spouse needs more care than the other. For instance, let’s say that Bob’s requirements are much higher due to Alzheimer’s disease and decreased mobility. He needs assistance with managing medications, getting bathed and dressed, as well as close supervision to prevent him from wandering. Lisa, on the other hand, is completely independent and can still take care of herself.
In most arrangements, the spouse who doesn’t require additional care just pays for their room and board. And the spouse who needs the extra care pays for the services that they need.
So when a couple lives together, they only pay rent for one unit. However, there is frequently an additional fee for the 2nd occupant. Each spouse will get the care that they require, as long as the facility is able to meet those needs. In certain situations, a spouse might want their own separate room or even an adjoining unit. Possibilities for various living arrangements differ in each community.
In assisted living communities, the base cost of room and board might be as low as $1500 a month. The full price will depend on location, additional services required by each spouse, and other amenities that may be desired. According to the Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the median monthly cost in the United States for a single bedroom apartment is $4051 (in assisted living).
There are also some senior living facilities that utilize a tiered pricing structure with services bundled in. For example, residents who don’t need very many additional services would be placed in the lowest/cheapest tier. But if their needs begin to increase, their tier would go up, as would the price they pay each month. Some other common pricing structures are ala carte pricing (fee-for-service) and all-inclusive.
It can be hard enough to choose the best senior retirement apartments for an individual, let alone a couple. Besides thinking about their immediate needs, the other thing to consider is their long-term needs. Choosing a community offering continuous care can be a smart decision. That way, should their needs ever change, transitioning into a new care setting will be much easier. This is important because transitions can be expensive and very stressful for seniors.
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