Retirement
MEMORY-CARE COMMUNITIES
Alzheimer’s care communities are special units or freestanding communities designed to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain, impairing one’s memory, mental processing ability and behavior.

Special on-site care is provided to residents 24 hours a day. While these communities are for early stage Alzheimer’s patients, alternative senior assisted-care centers may be appropriate for residents. Long-term insurance or personal money usually funds the care in these communities.

SELECTING A COMMUNITY
To best match a senior’s needs with his or her preferences, there are numerous factors to weigh in making a decision about care:
  • Temporary versus long-term care: An older person may go to a nursing home for rehabilitation following a surgery or stroke, then return home. In other circumstances, a senior’s needs are better served by planning a move into a situation that is likely to remain the same for the many years to come.
  • Independence: Can the senior live alone, and more importantly, does he or she want to? Or would living in a more service-oriented environment be more nurturing?
  • Privacy: If the senior’s desire for privacy is important, independent living, assisted living or a CCRC would be preferable to a nursing home.
  • Needs for personal care: How much and what kinds of personal or “custodial care” are needed or desired? There are online needs-assessment questionnaires to help determine this and then match the care needs with the right type of housing.
  • Needs for medical care: If the senior has a chronic illness that necessitates special medical care or ongoing services of medical professionals, independent living and even assisted living may not be suitable.
  • Costs: Learn about the financial aspects of senior housing to determine what options are affordable for you. Certain options may be unaffordable, such as CCRCs.

In making any housing selection for yourself or a loved one, ask your doctor or your attorney to review the contract, especially if you feel uneasy signing it. However, there are many residents who make the decision on their own and don’t feel the need to ask anyone else.

ELDER-CARE COST CONSIDERATIONS
The national median rate for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted-living residence is $3,300 per month. Although it is difficult to get a good reading on the average cost of nursing homes or assisted living because care is varied with each person’s need, and pricing is often tiered to reflect this need. However, assisted living is often less expensive than home health services or nursing-home care in the same geographic area. The cost of a senior-living residence is usually paid for through private financial resources since most insurance policies do not cover these expenses. At best, one’s insurance program or policy will reimburse some cost. Seniors have several ways of funding retirement living if existing finances are not adequate.

For most seniors, owning a home is the biggest asset available. Of course selling the home would fund your new living arrangements, but renting or obtaining a reverse mortgage also would allow for money to come in without getting rid of the property. Housing and Veterans Affairs subsidies exist for some seniors with annual incomes under $12,000 and provide funds that can help pay for the room-and-board portion of both independent-living and assisted-living environments. Veterans can benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs skilled- and intermediate-level care depending on availability. To truly ensure your capacity to pay for senior living, long-term care insurance is your best bet. The Assisted Living Federation of America suggests researching long-term care insurance at age 40 and owning it by age 50. This type of insurance gives you the flexibility to choose the type of housing right for you with the restrictions of federal health-care assistance.

SENIOR PROGRAMS
— Getting Involved in Your New Community
A great part of retirement is being able to give back some of your time to the community in which you live. The Phoenix area offers several avenues for doing just that. 

AARP Arizona: (866) 389-5649, www.aarp.org/az/
AARP Arizona offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for 50+ adults, including issue/advocacy volunteers, community-service volunteers, 50+ workforce volunteers, Driver Safety program instructors and coordinators, Tax-Aide tax preparers, coordinators greeters and many more.

Dial 211: 2-1-1, www.cir.org/211arizon/
This easy-to-remember telephone number provides Arizonans with a single point of entry for all social and government services as well as many nonprofit groups.

Valley of the Sun United Way: (602) 631-4800, www.vsuw.org
This organization provides resources to groups and individuals to help them deliver creative solutions to community problems through volunteerism. It serves as a key resource for community involvement for Arizonans, matching volunteer interests with many organizations.

   
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