4 Tips for Married Couples When Searching for Assisted Living

Find out how mom and dad can look for assisted living together.

Married Couple considering assisted living

People age at different rates and some much more dramatically than others. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of those aged 60 and over who reported being married has increased over the past several decades, while the number reporting widowhood has decreased. This means an increasing number of families are looking for senior living options for couples with different care needs. So how can you ensure that both of your parents’ physical, emotional and social needs are met?

Recently, the concept of couples living together in senior communities has become more common. Some assisted living communities even offer specialized programs so couples can live in the same residence while each receives the care they need and pays for only the services they need.

For instance, Couples Care at Highgate Senior Living allows couples to either live together in the same suite, or be just a short walk away from each other, regardless of care needs.

The staff handle everything from medications and hygiene to meals and housekeeping so the well spouse has some time and space to address their own personal needs and interests. This living situation allows both spouses to put an end to the stress and focus on simply enjoying their precious time together.

So how do you find an assisted living community that caters to couples? Here are four tips for married couples when searching for assisted living.

Do Research Before Problems Arise

Don’t wait for a health crisis to begin the search for senior living only. If you do, you’ll find that most of the most desirable communities have waitlists, or you’ll have to hurry through the process of downsizing from the family home. Instead, start researching when both of your parents are sound of mind so they can have more control over the decision-making process.

This also allows you to find out what is most important to them as they grow older. Do they want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible? Are they interested in becoming involved in the community? How important is them to focus on a hobby of theirs or to take new classes? The answers to these questions can be the starting point to better understand their priorities so you can help narrow down the choices to the perfect assisted living community.

Find a Solution that Accommodates Changing Care Needs

In addition to understanding your loved ones’ goals for the future, it’s important to be realistic about their current care needs as well as their anticipated needs. Ideally, you will find a community that is equipped to provide care now and in the future, as your loved ones age.

For instance, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that also has an assisted living and memory care program offers a long-term solution for couples with differing care needs. These types of communities offer every stage of senior living in one location, in different wings or communities for couples or residents with wide-ranging care.

Have a Financial Plan in Place

One of the common misconceptions couples have about moving into an assisted living community together is that they’ll pay double the price, which isn’t the case. Typically, the cost of senior living is affected more by the level of care needed than by how many people are residing in the community.

Although fees vary from community to community, many offer a fee-for-service contract. This means that your monthly payment covers housing, residential services and amenities, and only the resident who needs higher levels of care pays for those services.

For instance, if your mom has Alzheimer’s disease and mobility problems and needs help with medication management, bathing and dressing and your dad is in relatively good shape and has no major health conditions, then, typically, they will be charged for only one room with an additional fee for the second person. One spouse can receive the highest level of care, while the healthier spouse receives less, and each pays only for the care they need.

In many situations, total assisted living costs can be significantly less than the expenses your parents are paying as homeowners when they combine utilities, insurance and home maintenance with in-home care costs. According to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, hiring a home health aide costs an average of $4,099 per month, yet the average monthly cost of assisted living is $3,750 per month.

Plus, with programs designed to help residents stay mentally, physically, socially and spiritually engaged, assisted living communities allow couples to live purposeful lives filled with meaning and joy.

Make the Move Before You’re Ready

Just like you should research communities ahead of time, there is also value in moving to an assisted living community before you need to. If your parents move in when they are both still active and independent, it allows them time to make friends and build a support system, develop comfort with the staff throughout the community, and take advantage of the community’s activities designed to keep residents’ minds and bodies healthy.

Complete Guide to Assisted Living