One of the toughest decisions is answering the question, “When is the right time to move out of my home?” Absolutely no one I have ever worked has wanted to move out of their own home. It’s home! It’s where all those memories are, it’s often where children and grandchildren were raised, holiday dinners were held…it is just so hard to leave all of that behind. It is a death experience of its own kind when you have to make the decision to leave your home or move a loved one out of their home.
So, how do you know when it is the right time to move out of home into a senior apartment or a care facility? What are the concerns or issues that should be considered when going through the decision making process for yourself or a loved one? Here are a few things that I have found important to the discussion.
1) Why now are you thinking about moving? I know this might seem like a dumb question to start with but oftentimes families or individuals talk about moving into an apartment or care facility and they aren’t even clear as to why. I often hear, “Oh, it just seems like the right thing to do.” Really?? Why?? Why now and not a year ago? Moving is not cheap and it’s very disrupting to life so why? If you can be clear as to the reasons behind making a move, you will know better what kind of place you are looking for and make the grief process of leaving behind a family home and neighbors a bit easier to handle.
2) What are the care needs or concerns that would be helped if you moved? Be honest as to what your needs are now and project into the future a bit. You don’t want to have to move again if you can avoid it (sometimes it can’t be prevented but no one likes the upheaval all over again!). It is so hard to come out of denial and deal with your own needs in an honest and clear way so you can make good plans. One hint – your care needs will not decrease over time! Yup! If you have to move because there are a number of things you can’t do for yourself anymore…well, that won’t get any better in the future. The most likely scenario is your care and support needs will increase. So, you will need to deal with the sense of loss that comes with admitting to your own physical and/or mental health declines, and then move onto making some good decisions for yourself. If you are part of the decision making, you will feel much more in control of your life versus feeling like loved ones are ‘forcing” their decisions on you.
3) What kind of place would best address the needs I have? There are independent senior apartments where you have once a week housekeeping (hooray!), meals in a dining room with other residents (no more eating alone…hooray!) and planned activities. Or, you could be moving into an apartment from a large home but will still need to do everything for yourself. There are assisted living or board and care homes where there is 24 hour staff, help with bathing, meals, medication management, housekeeping, and such. The main difference in assisted living/board and care is that you need more help with day-to-day things….i.e. need help taking your medications correctly. The highest level of care (outside of an acute care hospital) is a skilled nursing facility. If you require a physician on site and 24 hour nursing care you will enter this level of care from a stay in an acute care hospital almost every time (versus going from home to a skilled nursing facility). You have to have a medical reason to be there (and not just because you have a catheter. And, part of it is because your care will not be covered by insurance if you go from home to skilled care….without the acute care hospital stay in-between.
4) What is the cost of care in the home versus moving to a care facility? Money makes a difference. If you can pay for your care out-of-pocket, all by yourself or through private long term care insurance, hooray!! You have options! You can look at the costs of staying at home and having caregivers brought into the home. This can be more costly than moving into an assisted living or board and care facility. In most cases, I have found bringing care into the home (particularly if the need is for 24 hour care) is more expensive than moving into a facility. But, if money is an issue, then you need to look at different types of care facilities and the costs of each one. Smaller board and care facilities can be found starting at about $1500 per month (there are few of these though!) while larger assisted living facilities (with more staff and activities) start about $3,000 and up. Now, the cost of facility-based care varies by geographic area, the size of the facility, and all sorts of factors. So, look around and find a reputable agency or firm that helps people find a good care facility. Helping Hearts Foundation has care coordinators who can help you find the right place at the right price for you. But, know that if your funds are limited, your choices will be limited. You may be thinking….”But, Medicare will pay for this, right?” or “My supplemental insurance will pay for this care, right?” Nope!! No one pays for assisted living or board and care. It is the level of care that most of us will require but outside of a private long term care insurance plan, no one pays for this level of care.
5) How do I get rid of my things that won’t fit in the new place? You will need to ask your family if there is any items they would like to have, maybe some of your friends would like a piece or two, you can sell things or donate them. This is also such a hard thing to do….get rid of things that are yours and that you enjoy because you don’t have space for them in a new apartment or board and care home. It is a loss experience that can produce a lot of feeling of grief and sadness. Be aware of that and allow yourself to feel that…it’s ok…it’s perfectly normal. For those extra special items that are hard to part with….take a picture of it before you pass it on. Try to find someone special who will appreciate the item as much as you do. Sell it and realize some benefit from it as you let go of it. Or, donate it to a worthy cause so you know that loved piece of furniture or house goods went to help someone else in their lives. Helping Hearts Foundation helps with the process of going through things and helping you get rid of items. Just let us know you need this assistance.
6) What do I do with my home? Hold onto it, sell it, rent it? One of the big questions as you leave your home…what do I do with my home? Well, there are a number of things you could do that have to be weighed with a lot of other matters. Do you need to sell the home to have the money for your care needs? If so, need to sell it. Do you want to rent it and use the rental income for your needs? That can work but what about the ongoing management of the property by a renter, the regular maintenance costs of the home, property taxes, homeowners insurance, liability insurance, etc? You need to weigh how the property will be managed and maintained, how you keep fulltime renters in it (so you do have the money to use for your care expenses), how long you can go without rental income if it remains unrented for a bit….and numerous other issues that have to be considered. Or, is there a family member who can rent it from you? Sometimes this works….most often, sorry to say, I have see family members take advantage of their older loved one who can’t keep close track on the home, rent coming in and such. If you do decide to rent your home to a family member, I would recommend (as I would in any renter/landlord scenario) to get yourself a good property manager so you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day, month-to-month concerns of having rental property.
Holding onto your home…and leaving it empty….is probably something you want to think twice about. If you want to hold onto it for a bit to see if…IF…by chance, you might be able to return home…ok. But, if there is no way you will ever be able to return to your home….don’t let it sit empty for too long. It is a perfect place for vandals and others to do damage or something breaks inside the house (plumbing!) and you end up with a huge repair bill. Plus, if you have enjoyed your neighbors over the years, they won’t like you for much longer if you leave your home empty!
This Is not an exhaustive list of the questions to ask about making a move out of your home. But, hopefully, it has provided you some ‘food for thought,’ as they say. There are so many conflicting emotions and feelings when you are thinking about this kind of move that it is hard to be clear about the issues and concerns as you look at a move. This is where Helping Hearts Foundation can help. Our team of care coordinators have the background and experience to help you weed through the various options for care homes, finding a place that will meet your needs, be comfortable and at the price you can afford. They will also be honest with you about how well your budget meets your care needs and expectations you and your family may have about care facilities. Also, through the Helping Hearts Care Management team you will have the help of someone with decades of work in assisting families and individuals with the myriad of decisions that have to be made to make a move from home to care facility…or finding a caregiver for in home care.
Helping Hearts Foundation is here to help whatever the need might be. We are committed to making a difference, one person at a time. Call us, email us…..we are here to help.