The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has affected everyone on a global scale. As COVID-19 cases build, Public health statements from health officials have flooded social media and news outlets for months now. From stay home orders and facemask mandates to schools and businesses going fully remote to limit the spread of the virus, every aspect of 'normal' life as we have known it has changed.
If you were seeking a new living arrangement in Washington for your senior loved one when Coronavirus hit the US, your plans were likely put on abrupt hold, but the care needs of older adults have not. This same situation has left many families confused about how to care for their aging family members. Some families are not sure what type of senior housing situation is appropriate for their loved ones. It's incredibly frustrating!
Still, we'd like to try to find a silver lining in the Coronavirus cloud. So the team at Weatherly Inn has created this guide to help families, spouses, and caregivers plan for senior living in 2020 and beyond. We'll discuss key topics of preparing your loved one to become a new resident in senior living. These topics can be addressed right now, even if you're practicing social distancing. We'll cover topics like financial planning, speaking to senior living advisors, and virtual community tours.
Our goal with this article is to make you more comfortable about your research and choices in a senior living arrangement like memory care, independent living, or assisted living. So let's jump right in!
Determine the Costs and Payment Options for Senior Living
Long term care facilities or assisted living communities do come at a price. But you want the best care for your loved one. And once you tally up the costs of them living in their own home, or living with a family member, you might find senior living to be more affordable than you think.
Living Costs Reduced or Absorbed in a Senior Living Community
Consider these costs that will be absorbed, reduced, or limited by senior living:
- Grocery shopping and dining costs are usually significantly reduced.
- Professional in-home care services are no longer needed.
- Protective equipment around the house to ensure your older loved one is not injured is no longer required.
- Some utilities — gas, electric, water, trash, cable, and telephone bills — may largely disappear.
- Supplemental heating costs, like wood pellets or firewood, are gone.
- Transportation resources — fuel and wear and tear on a vehicle — are gone, as are scheduling needs. Family members no longer need to miss work or school for doctor appointments.
We know every family is a unique entity, so reach out to a senior living advisor at Weatherly to learn more!
The Value of Senior Living for Caregivers
Remember, your family's choice in a senior care situation is about making your loved one happy and comfortable, with access to the right level of care for their individual needs. Beyond that, though, it's about relief and a better quality of life for both you and your loved one. Fewer bills to pay means less mail to open and no payments to miss. The peace of mind that your loved one is getting the precise type of care they need in a home setting built to accommodate them is a lifesaver!
For a deeper understanding of senior living costs, check out our Senior Living Financial Comparison tool.
Tasks Absorbed by Senior Living
Beyond the point of money, many families turn to senior living communities to help with the rest of the duties associated with caregiving. While it's not a disease exactly, medical professionals and healthcare providers alike recognize that caregiver burnout is a genuine phenomenon. The additional stress of medication management, laundry, bill paying, and constant concern for your loved one (especially with a particularly challenging disease like Alzheimer's) can cause long-term effects on your well-being.
Caregiver burnout can manifest as:
- Moodiness or mood swings
- Headaches and migraines
- High blood pressure
- Shoulder, neck, and jaw aches
- TMJ disorders or flare-ups
- Trouble sleeping, sleeplessness, or difficulty waking
As a caregiver, it's important to consider the ongoing effects of this extra stress, even though you love your parent to the moon and back!
Paying for Senior Living
Medicare only pays for the first 100 days in a senior living home. After that, families will need to plan for life in a senior living community. Another silver lining of the Coronavirus pandemic: it allows families more time to gather their resources and discuss finances.
There are several ways to pay for senior living, like:
- Reverse mortgages
- Long-term care insurance
- Life insurance cash values
Many families use a blend of these types of resources plus family income. If you feel financially overwhelmed, you can contact Weatherly to speak to a finance specialist today. We'd love to provide you with a no-pressure conversation to talk about your options.
Connect With a Senior Living Advisor
At Weatherly, we know every family and resident is unique. That's why we encourage you to reach out to a senior living advisor. Our highly trained staff can help answer your questions about:
- Medication management
- Health care coverage and residential care financial concerns
- Skilled nursing and staff member recommendations
- Senior nutrition and special dietary needs
- Entertainment, socialization and social distancing needs — both during and after the Coronavirus situation
- All other FAQs
Our residents' and staff's safety is our primary concern every day — not just during a pandemic. So we adhere to the CDC's guidelines carefully! We'd suggest you tour any senior living communities, memory care facilities, or nursing homes virtually at this time.
Visit a Senior Living Home or Take a Virtual Tours
If you've read our blogs before, you know that we encourage families to visit assisted living or independent living homes in person (especially at mealtime.)
However, social distancing requirements have made it such that social interaction is minimal right now. We wouldn't suggest you visit many retirement communities in person right now. We won't bore you with the specifics. We're sure you're aware of the importance of handwashing, face masks, and properly disinfecting surfaces. Just keep in mind that your senior care research doesn't need to be limited because you cannot visit a community in person.
The Value of Virtual Tours During COVID-19
Virtual tours allow a family to "visit" a senior living community online. It's one way senior living homes can reduce the risks to their residents, staff, and visitors.
You may have some extra time on hand right now, due to Coronavirus, so schedule a virtual tour and feel free to explore our community over and over!
Schedule a Virtual Tour of Weatherly Inn
From the safety of your own home, you can sit with your family member and explore our independent living and assisted living arrangements. We'll explore the different floor plans, dining rooms, menus, and common areas (though socialization is limited right now.) If you like what you see, reach out to our staff to learn more about quality senior living in Kent and Tacoma.
Once you've reached that point, you can use this time of social isolation to prepare for the transition into a senior living community.
Preparing for the Transition to Senior Living
We think this Senior List blog says it best: "Moving a loved one to an assisted living facility takes much planning and work. Ask for help from other family members and friends."
Downsizing an entire home can seem like a tremendous task. Thankfully, this is another silver lining of the pandemic. Plenty of people have extra time and energy to help you right now. So you can prepare for the move into a meaningful family event.
To make the move as smooth as possible, we'd suggest you:
- Plan ahead to tackle the move in small steps
- Arrange for storage — your loved one might feel happier knowing their belongings will be kept and cared for
- Hire professional movers if needed
- Help your family member choose a wardrobe that represents them for the move
- Create meaningful donations for non-profits like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, to help others in need
Ultimately, we know the decision to move into an assisted living home or independent living community can be challenging. At Weatherly, we're here to help you make this move as smoothly and happily as possible. We hope you'll consider a virtual tour of our communities, and reach out to a senior living advisor to help answer any of your questions.
While planning for senior care in 2020 might be a different process than it was in 2019, we hope you'll see the silver linings of the Coronavirus pandemic as a chance to move forward thoughtfully, at your own pace.