For those of you new to the topic, assisted living facilities are generally apartments which offer a range of help from transportation and meal preparation to medical care. Assisted living is the bridge between independent living and a nursing home, where full time care is required.
Here are my pros for assisted living:
Create more time to enjoy life. With assisted living, people can keep doing the things that are important to them and let others do the tasks that are less important. For example, my mother always taken good care of the house. When she was younger, it was a very easy task. In recent years, it was taking all of her time to do daily chores, she had no time for the things she enjoyed.
More accessibility to social contacts and activities. As driving and mobility became more difficult, my parents were able to get out less frequently. In addition, they had survived many of their close friends. It was difficult to get out and meet new friends. Being a community would have enabled them to do so easier.
Medical care in house. As my parents got older, it became more difficult for them to drive. As a result, they were less likely to go to the doctor for routine checkups and occasional illness. In most cases, this wasn't a problem. However, occasionally an illness becomes a major problem. In my father's case, he had pneumonia for about a week before finally going to the doctor. Unfortunately, the pneumonia was too advanced by the time he went. I believe if he had been in assisted living that he might be alive today.
Here are my cons for assisted living:
Less freedom - Because assistance is required, people will generally have less independence than before. Many of their activities, including meals, will be on a schedule. They will have less time flexibility to choose when they do things.
High cost - The cost of the facility we used was about $5000 per month. This included meals, social activities, local transportation, minor living assistance, and on-site medical serivces. Fortunately, the costs were covered by social security and passive income. If we had taken out a long term care insurance policy prior to needing assisted living, about 1/2 of the costs would have been covered by insurance.
Assisted living is a difficult choice. The cons usually outweigh the pros for most people. It is a big loss of independence. And the costs are high. In the future, I hope that more attractive options become available.
A creative and interesting alternative to low level assisted living, which some seniors are using, is to live on a cruise ship. The cost is about the same as assisted living at $4000 to $5000 per month. One also gets four out of five benefits of assisted living: meals, social activities, local transportation and on-site medical serivces.
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Photo Credit: morgueFile.com, Bobbi Robbins
This is not financial, health or senior advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
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