10.25.16  Mary Yamin-Garone, DeMystifying Alzheimer’s


Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.

Today’s topic is Senior Living Options for Spouses with Different Needs.

George and Edna have been married for 51 years. They always thought they would grow old together in their own home. That was before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now she needs help managing her medications, eating, bathing and dressing while he still is independent and can take care of himself.

So, what happens when spouses have different needs? Most senior couples prefer to continue living together in their own home. Although this may seem like the easiest option, it’s not always the best one.

The good news is there are options available that will keep spouses together.

In-home care is one of the most stress-free choices for senior couples with different needs. Home-care aides will come to the house for several hours a week or stay there 24/7. These individuals will help spouses with nonmedical needs, such as:

  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Personal hygiene
  • Transportation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping
  • Sorting mail
  • Getting in and out of a wheelchair

If one spouse requires medical care, such as physical rehabilitation, home health care is another choice.

The average cost is $20 per hour or $247 per day for round-the-clock care; and $21 per hour for home health care

Assisted living facilities are another popular choice. Many of them are designed with single occupant rooms in mind instead of double occupant. While both parties may be able to live in the same place, they may not be able to live in the same room or apartment.

These communities provide a place where residents can enjoy a full social life, lots of brain and body activities and companionship

Most assisted living facilities create a service plan for each resident when they move in. It details the personalized services the resident requires and are guaranteed by the facility. Their plans are updated regularly to assure they receive the best and most appropriate care as their condition changes. This is especially important if one spouse requires more care than the other.

The average base rate is $3,300 per month. The couple pays for the room, non-care services for both spouses, such as meals and housekeeping, and care for the one who needs it.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) offer different levels of health care in one location. Residents can move from one level to the next as needed. Similar to an assisted living facility, if spouses require different care they might not live in the same room but they will always be in the same community.

Levels of care include:

  • Independent living for those who don’t need personal assistance (also known as “residential living”)
  • Assisted living for those who only need a little help with their activities of daily living (also known as “residential” or “extended living”)
  • Memory care (sometimes called “special care”)
  • Skilled nursing and rehabilitation (short- and long-term) in an on-campus Health Care Center.

Having numerous levels of care available provides couples with the security of knowing that if one needs the services provided in a different part of the campus, the other can easily visit any time.

This is an expensive option. It’s often comparaed to buying a house and paying a significant amount upfront and paying rent (smaller monthly fee). Occasionally, the upfront fee is refundable. If a life-care contract is purchased, everything, including housing, meals, medical care and skilled nursing care, will be covered. The monthly fee shouldn’t go up as your loved one moves from one level of care to the next. A modified or fee-for-service contract also is available. It’s generally less expensive at first but additional fees will be charged as more care or services are needed. Costs will also vary based on the size of the unit.

The Continuing Care Retirement Community concept has taken a new spin with the emergence of Continuing Care Retirement Communities Without Walls (CCRCWW). These programs have the same intent as traditional Continuing Care Retirement Communities, which is providing support services to people as they age. Instead of those large upfront fees and facility-based orientation, Communities Without Walls allow seniors to receive the services they need in their own homes. In these programs, members pay a lower entry fee ($20,000 to $70,000) and lower monthly fees ($250 to $800) and receive a similar guarantee of lifelong care in their homes. That doesn’t include on-site services and a guarantee that assisted living and nursing home care will be available if needed. The main focus of these communities is to help seniors remain healthy and independent in their homes for as long as possible.

Only a dozen of these programs are operating across the country, mostly east of the Mississippi.

Before deciding where and whether to move your senior parents, consider having a geriatric care manager assess their needs. They help organize care needs when there’s a change in the situation. Some local government agencies and charitable groups offer free consulting services or on a sliding scale according to income level. If you hire a geriatric care manager privately, expect to pay between $75 to $250 an hour.

Here are some suggestions for finding a geriatric care manager.

  • Trained staff at your local Area Agency on Aging can usually provide referrals to geriatric care managers in your area.
  • Call the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at (520) 881-8008 or visit caremanager.org.
  • Search online. Enter geriatric care manager and the name of your loved one’s city or town.
  • Ask friends or your doctor for recommendations.

Finding appropriate care for spouses with different needs is a balancing act. The best thing to do is to work with them and come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.

Join me next time for more Demystifying Alzheimer’s.

About Lillian Cauldwell

Own and operate an Internet Talk Radio Network for 10 years, 2005 to Present Published Author of Non-Fiction Book, 1996, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide. Published Author of several fiction books, 2006 "Sacred Honor" and 20010 "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure." Playwright of Theater of the Absurd and Black Comedies. Screenwriter, Black Comedies