When to Move into Senior Housing

As your loved one gets up in years, you might wonder if it is safe and practical for her to continue living in her home. Many things in modern life have a connection to a specific age, like when you can legally drive or vote. However, there is no set age for when a person should move into a senior living community. It can be hard to know when a person should consider taking this step.

The issue of when to move into senior housing is highly individual. Some people do well staying in their own homes into their nineties or even past the age of 100. Other people are eager to relocate to a development designed with them in mind, with plenty of activities and opportunities to socialize with their peers. It can be refreshing to have someone else do the lawn care and housework. Most people fall somewhere in between these two groups.

Indications that It Might be Time to Consider Senior Housing

Everyone is different, and the decision about moving into senior care should be made by your loved one, possibly with input from close friends and relatives and the senior’s health care professional. Here are a few of the signs to look for that might mean that a development for aging adults could be beneficial. Your loved one is having difficulty:

  • Preparing food,
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities,
  • Taking his medicine as directed,
  • Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet,
  • Walking without stumbling or falling,
  • Engaging socially and avoiding isolation, or
  • Dealing with moods and emotions, such as depression, loneliness, sadness and boredom.

If you see any of these signs, you should think about talking with your loved one about the situation. Let her know that you will offer as much help as you can, like helping her get her house ready to sell. Some people get so intimidated about the mountain of work that a move entails, they stay in place, even if they need assistance with daily living tasks.

Let your older relative know about the options available and offer to visit facilities with him. Have a few developments in mind before you have “the talk.” Set up tours at a couple of communities, then find out what he likes and dislikes about each place. Try to find a location where he will be happy and safe. A center with a wide range of care levels can provide more assistance, if he needs it over time.

Misconceptions About Senior Housing

When your aging loved one was younger, senior housing meant the nursing home or rest home. As a result, many older Americans adamantly refuse to even talk about moving into a senior living community. People would likely be more receptive to considering senior housing, if they realized that today’s facilities can include:

  • Apartments, condominiums, and attached housing units with multiple bedrooms, plenty of square footage and attractive architecture.
  • Your choice of a variety of care levels, from completely independent to not having to lift a finger, because someone else does all the cooking, cleaning and lawn maintenance.
  • Developments on golf courses, with swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails and many other amenities.

Be sure to talk with an elder law attorney near you about this article and any insights she or he may have.

References:

A Place for Mom. “When is the Right Time to Move?” (accessed April 14, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/when-is-the-right-time-to-move

 

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The Top Three and Bottom Three States for Retirees

New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” state, is seeing an influx of retirees, which is the same reason people are moving to Florida and Arizona. They’re fleeing New Jersey, Maine, and Connecticut, according to a survey from the moving company United Van Lines. The company asked 26,998 of its customers who moved from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 30, 2018 why they were moving and where.

According to CNBC’s article “Retirees are flocking to these 3 states—and fleeing these 3 states in droves,” four out of 10 people who moved to New Mexico said it was for retirement.

New Mexico seems to be taking over the lead from Florida, when it comes to retirement. Florida was second, followed by Arizona, and the cost of living is a key factor. After examining the cost of housing, medical expenses and income taxes, retirees or soon-to-be retirees are making their plans.

Another important factor is how states treat Social Security income. There are still states that tax Social Security, which is a big turn off for retirees. Those states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.

New Jersey is experiencing a big outflow of residents. It has the highest effective property tax in the country: 2.13%, according to the Tax Foundation. It also has a top individual income tax rate of 10.75%, applicable to income exceeding $5 million.

Affordability is a significant factor in retirement relocation, but there are other factors to consider, including:

Family and friends. If you can afford to stay where all your family and friends are, isn’t that worth a “friends and family” tax? Who will be on your emergency contact list in a new home town? Will you make a new network of friends to serve as your retirement family?

Know before you go. Get to know the area before buying anything. If you can, rent for a six-month or one-year period. You should also go off-season, if retirement has you considering an area with a high number of tourists. A busy beach community that becomes a deserted island may not be as much fun as when the crowds all leave — or it may be better. Live there before committing permanently.

Call your financial advisor. Don’t go anywhere, until doing a comprehensive analysis of the costs of the move and the new location’s cost of living. What does an active lifestyle cost in a new town? Just as important, what would it cost if you or a spouse become seriously ill in the new home? Is there quality health care nearby, or would you have to return home for any kind of serious medical care?

Call your estate planning attorney. If your plans include moving to a state far from family and friends, you’ll need to be sure that all estate planning documents are up to date. You’ll also need to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure it will be valid in your new home state.

Reference: CNBC (April 17, 2019) “Retirees are flocking to these 3 states—and fleeing these 3 states in droves”

Suggested Key Terms: Retirement, Relocation, Estate Planning Attorney, Social Security, Taxes

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How to Decide Who Your Healthcare Proxy Should Be

It’s especially important to name a healthcare proxy, because the chances of having a crisis escalates dramatically as we age. That’s why so many people put off naming a healthcare agent, says Forbes in the article “How to Select A Healthcare Agent” often only addressing this, when they are completing other documents for their overall estate plan.

What usually happens is that people get so stressed out about naming a healthcare agent that they put it off or make a bad selection. Making it even worse, is neglecting to tell the person they have chosen for this important responsibility.

It’s not guaranteed that the person you chose as your healthcare proxy will ever be called on to serve. However, if they are, you’ll want to make sure they meet certain guidelines. For one thing, they’ll need to be at least 18 years old. They cannot be your direct health care provider or any of the direct health care provider’s employees, unless that person is also your spouse. They have to be willing to speak up and adhere to your own wishes, even if those wishes are not the same as their own. You’ll want to have a very candid conversation with the person you think you want to name as your healthcare agent.

You might want to go through this exercise to make sure they are really willing to carry out your wishes. Create a worksheet that describes in detail some of the situations they may face. There are a few sources for this kind of worksheet, including one from a group called Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit centered on helping people get what they want at the end of their lives.

If you are close with your family, it may seem obvious to select your spouse, first-born child, or a sibling for this task. However, be realistic: when push comes to shove, will they be able to stand up for your wishes? Will they be able to deal with the fallout from family members, who may not agree with what you want at the end of your life? They’ll need to be up to the challenge.

Age is a real factor here. You want your agent to be available in both the immediate and distant future. If you have a sibling who is only two years younger than you, she’ll be 84 when you are 86. That may not be the time for her to make hard decisions, or she may not be available—or alive. Select a few backups, and make sure the primary, secondary and even tertiary are listed on your advance directive.

Geography also matters. The person may be called upon in a crisis—if you are on the West Coast and they are in the Midwest, will they be able to get to your bedside in time? Many hospitals and skilled nursing facilities require a live human being to be physically present, if critical care decisions need to be made. Someone who lives within a 50-mile radius of you, might be a better choice.

Once you’ve made the decision, you’re almost done. Have a conversation with the person, whether they are the primary or a backup. You should also have a conversation with your estate planning attorney, to make sure that your healthcare directive and any related documents are all set for your future.

Reference: Forbes (April 10, 2019) “How to Select A Healthcare Proxy”

 

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