LICSW, Manager, BCBSRI Care Management
Have you considered your future living arrangements? Where do
you see yourself living in 10 years? In 20 years? As we age, we may picture
ourselves living with our adult children or extended families. Perhaps we
envision moving to an assisted living facility. According to the AARP, 71
percent of adults aged 50 to 64 want to stay in their current home and
community as they age. At age 65+ that number jumps to 87 percent.
Despite these desires, unplanned illnesses and injuries may
prevent us from living independently for as long as we may like. While there is
not necessarily a right time to start thinking about our future housing
options, we know the earlier these conversations take place, the more prepared
we are when the unexpected occurs. In fact, preplanning can greatly
reduce stress, allowing us to feel more in control of our future and more
comfortable with potential changes.
Here are some options to keep in mind as you think about the
possibilities for future housing and health care needs:
Option 1: At-home services
If you are relatively healthy and live at home, but have trouble
with mobility and/or no longer drive, local organizations provide a wide range
of services that may cater to your unique needs. Services could include:
personal care, homemaking care, meal care, transportation, geriatric care
managers to help with your finances, and home health aides to administer
Speak with your primary care provider (PCP) to ask if they
provide specialty at-home care or if they can refer you to a home health
aide/registered nurse (RN) specifically for seniors.
You can also call our or email the BCBSRI Case Management team
to speak with an advocate who can assist in identifying the services that are
right for you.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging is also a
Option 2: Short-term care
Unexpected illness or injury may result in the temporary
inability to safely care for ourselves. When this occurs, short-term care may
be an option.
Depending on your unique needs, a professional caregiver may be
assigned to visit you at home and temporarily provide assistance with daily
living activities, administering medications, and changing any wound dressings.
If a skilled nurse is required to provide at-home care, then
Medicare Part B can cover the cost. There
is a monthly premium for Part B based on income. The purchase of Part B is
optional and there may be a late enrollment penalty if you do not sign up when
you are first eligible for Medicare.
If the situation calls for a hospital stay and rehab, then there
are senior living communities with experienced professionals (doctors, nurses
and therapists) that can provide medical short-term care to residents and help
you transition safely and smoothly back into your daily routine.
Medicare A covers inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing
facility care, hospice care and home healthcare. Most people do not need to pay
a Part A monthly premium because they contributed into Social Security while
Option 3: Assisted living
Similar to at-home services, assisted living communities provide
a wide range of needs to seniors who may not be able to live safely on their
own, but maintain their independence under the supervision of medical
According to American Senior Communities, nearly one million
Americans live in some type of senior living community, and that number is
expected to double by the year 2030.
Assisted living communities provide housekeeping, meals,
transportation, exercise programs, organized activities and events, and may be
pet friendly too. Some of the communities even have on-site amenities such as
beauty salons and pharmacies.
Option 4: Nursing home
Nursing homes are an option for seniors who require long-term,
24-hour supervision and a high level of medical care and assistance.
Some individuals benefit from this type of care because they
require consistent supervision to remain safe, for example avoiding recurrent
falls and threat of injury.
It may be difficult to put your trust in a stranger, let alone a
strange and unfamiliar place. This is why to find the best nursing home you
must make sure to visit and verbally indicate what your preferences are. Things
that may be important to you (home cooked meals, nice outdoor space,
extracurricular activities, friendly staff) can make the transition easier and
Life is unpredictable, but planning ahead through discussions
with your family, doctor, and health plan can help you be better prepared for
the unexpected. Take the time to learn about senior housing options and keep in
mind location, quality of care that may be needed, medical and rehab services,
and finances (what does your health insurance cover and what do you need to pay
for?). Talk with your health care provider about what option may be the best
one for you.