Let’s say there is a theoretical couple, Bill and his wife Barb, who are in need of senior housing. Bill has moderate Alzheimer’s disease and chronic arthritis, but his wife Barb is in excellent shape with no major heart conditions. As Bill’s disease progresses with age, he begins to wander around the house at night and one night gets lost outside. The police manage to bring him home safely, but it has become clear that Bill will need continued monitoring if he is to continue living at home.
Barb cannot keep taking care of Bill, so the two decide that it may be time to look at an assisted living community for the both of them. After all, while Bill is the one who needs help, the two do not want to live separately for the remainder of their lives. Plus, without Barb at his side, Bill’s condition and symptoms could worsen. As they and their children struggle with the decision of what to do, Bill’s condition only gets harder and harder to care for.
Many families are not alone in facing this common problem and are unaware that many senior communities will accommodate couples who wish to live and stay together. Independent living communities, nursing homes, assisted living communities, and memory care units typically offer options for couples to live in the same room. Making the move into one of these communities can be a major life change, but a couple that makes the choice to do it together makes the transition much easier. Fortunately, many of these communities offer different apartment layouts and amenities. For couples looking to live together in a residential community, they can choose upscale amenities, entertainment options, and more. Some retirement communities will include full kitchenettes, private bathrooms, and more.
Assessing the Needs of Senior Couples
To make sure that all parties receive the adequate care that they need while living in a residential community, both spouses will need to undergo evaluation for medical needs. This can be done by a geriatric care manager, or the individual’s primary care physician, or a social worker. Gaining a general idea of the types of needs that both parties will need will make it easier for couples to rule out certain apartment types or even facilities as whole. For example, if both parties require ADL’s, or assistance with daily living tasks, then a good principle to follow would be ruling out any facilities that do not offer these types of services. If one spouse does not need ADL’s, then it’s still best to go by the spouse who needs the highest level of care for their needs.
Once a senior couple decides on a community that serves their needs, staff members should conduct an assessment prior to move in to find out if they will need help moving. A medical evaluation will also be required periodically to ensure that staff are equipped and set to meet the needs of their patients. Another follow up after move in should be conducted a month after move in and every six months following.
Senior Housing Costs for Senior Couples
Senior living costs for senior couples varies depending on the facility and the level of care that they will need. Cost estimates can be difficult to ascertain at a glance and may even grow worse with age. For example, Bill may only need medical assistance for his Alzheimer’s for the time being, he may begin to require help with his limited mobility, medication management, dressing, bathing, and medical monitoring for his heart condition. If couples find an apartment they like together, they will only be charged for the one unit, usually with an additional cost for the extra occupant. Additionally, each spouse only needs to pay for the services they require, and not for the other. As long as the facility is able to meet their needs, senior living communities will do their best to accommodate the wishes of senior couples who want to live together.
The base cost of room and board in assisted living communities can be as low as $1,500 per month, but that price increases as more medical services are needed. According to a 2017 survey by the Genworth Cost of Care organization, the median monthly price for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living community in the United States is $3,750. Not all communities are priced this way and some communities may offer lower prices but without the same medical services available. Senior couples need to ensure that facilities are equipped to handle the needs of the spouse with the most medical concerns.
How to Plan for Future Needs
It’s impossible to know what the future holds for someone’s medical condition, but it is best to prepare for the worst and set aside money in case of medical emergency. If the time comes when one spouse needs significantly more medical care than the senior living facility can provide, then it’s time to start looking around. In continuing care retirement communities (CCRC’s) residents get the full spectrum of elder care services in one location. For example, if Bill and Barb start living in CCRC and Bill’s condition worsens, he can move to the memory care unit while Barb continues to live in the assisted living area. The distance that a couple has to walk to see one another in a continuing care retirement community is generally not so bad and can be as short as an elevator ride or a quick walk across the yard.
At Landmark Recovery, we do our best to accommodate the needs of all our residents. Getting the appropriate level of care for senior couples is of the utmost importance for the staff at each one of our senior care residences. We look forward to working with you to meet the needs to make individualized senior care for either you or your loved ones.