It is impossible to predict the future with any kind of certainty, especially when it comes to your health and quality of life as you age. All you can do is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, because it will spare you and your loved ones suffering when something does happen. Choosing to live the rest of your years out at home or find a comfortable nursing home is decision that should not be taken lightly. There is plenty of information on the web and through your doctor’s office but what’s the real truth behind nursing homes? How does choosing to live in one affect your future?
Choosing a Nursing Home
For many seniors, choosing to live at home through the golden years is their biggest wish. In home care is always an option should illness, surgery, or injury occur, but what if something more debilitating happens, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s? A nursing home can potentially be the only choice to make.
While many nursing homes accept Medicare and Medicaid to offset some of the expenses; it can be cost-prohibitive to live even 5 years in an assisted living facility. It can cost upwards of $6,000 per month to live in a nursing home. While that may not sound like much considering the benefits of nursing home care, for someone living on a fixed income it can be exorbitant.
If you require a skilled nursing facility, it can be around $220 per day, rounding out to just over $80,000 per year. Multiply that by 5 years, and living in a nursing home will cost about the same as a 3,000 square foot home in the northeast United States. There are not many seniors that can afford to spend that kind of money in their later years.
According to the CDC, people are living approximately 19 years after reaching the retirement age of 65. If you plan to live in assisted living, it is essential for you to prepare to live there for more than just five years. Obviously, everyone wants to live in the home they have built over the years, surrounded by wonderful memories. Hopefully, that is the case for you right up until the end but, if not, it is better to have a financial plan in place just in case.
Aside from cost, there are a few other drawbacks to living in a nursing home such as the confusion and unfamiliarity of an unknown place. This can lead to depression in many otherwise mentally healthy people. Facing the aging process, and ultimately your own mortality, is difficult enough without adding more stress. Living at home may require hiring an in home caregiver, but the cost can be much less than a skilled assisted living facility.
Living with independence for an entire lifetime is sometimes taken for granted. Until it is taken away, we sometimes forget to appreciate the ability to come and go as we please and eat, sleep, and watch television as we desire. Nursing homes thrive on regimented schedules, which are very beneficial to regulating medications and overall health; however, it can severely affect the sense of independence you may have once enjoyed.
The Upside of Nursing Homes
Not all aspects of nursing home living are negative. Of course, there is a very active social aspect as the residents dine and participate in activities together. This is an uplifting experience for all seniors, as staying social is critical to aging healthfully. Attending concerts, dancing, and participating in art classes can keep minds and bodies sharp as we age.
The benefit of having full time, round the clock care can give families a peace of mind that nothing else can when the safety and well-being of loved ones is concerned. Family members have busy schedules that include work, children, and other important events that can leave them feeling stressed and stretched too thin if they add on being a full time caregiver. In home care giving can alleviate many of these challenges and offer peace of mind as well.
Living in a nursing home can impact your future by draining the money you worked hard all your life to save, without leaving much for the family you leave behind, even with assistance from insurance. While the full time medical care and active social life are important, there are other ways to have these aspects as you age without breaking the bank.
The most important thing you can do today is create a financial plan for your future that includes nursing home care in case that is your only option. Investigate alternatives to ensure you have all the facts and can live the remainder of your years in peace.