Making the move into senior living is a big decision and there are many things that might affect your choice. A major factor for many families is the cost. You might wonder: how do people typically pay for assisted living and what resources are available to help?
Making the choice to move from the home to long-term care can be difficult, but we’ve gathered some information on how to pay for assisted living in Texas, in the hopes that we can make it easier for your family.
What is Assisted Living?
There are so many different types of long-term care for older adults, that it can be a bit confusing. The most constrictive care available is probably a skilled nursing facility (sometimes known as a nursing home). Skilled nursing facilities are best suited for individuals who are in need of highly specialized care, like those who have complex or progressive health conditions.
On the other hand, assisted living is the care type that allows the most freedom. Assisted living communities typically offer private apartments with amenities like housekeeping and maintenance, as well as social and recreational opportunities, both on and off the premises. Assisted living staff will provide 24-hour emergency medical care and daily assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) as needed. ADLs might include help with dressing and grooming, bathing and hygiene, and medication management. Assisted living is different from other long-term care choices because the focus is on allowing for maximum independence, while giving assistance whenever needed.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in Texas?
According to the latest numbers from Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of assisted living in Texas in 2021 was $3,988/month, which is below the national average. It’s also about $600 less per month than families would spend hiring in-home assistance. Even so, it’s still a considerable expense for many families, but there are some resources that families can use to help pay for assisted living.
How Can Families Pay for Assisted Living in Texas?
There are several options for families looking for ways to pay for assisted living in Texas. They include:
1. Long-term Care Insurance
Just like any other type of insurance, long-term care insurance can be purchased ahead of time to pay for costs related to long-term care, like assisted living, later in life. Long-term care insurance is an excellent idea, since someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care and 20% of people aged 65 and older will need long-term care for longer than five years. It can also give you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re prepared for whatever the future may bring. However, if your family hasn’t purchased long-term care insurance ahead of time, there are other options.
2. Reverse Mortgage
If you’re not ready to sell the home, you can apply for a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage “allows seniors to liquidate the equity in their homes for cash without selling the home or incurring a monthly loan payment.”
Borrowers can choose from three payment options:
- One lump sum in cash
- Equal monthly payments split between two borrowers (usually spouses) for as long as both borrowers live in the home
- Equal monthly payments over time
Reverse Mortgage Considerations
- Repayment isn’t required until both borrowers move, sell their home, or are deceased. However, at that time, the lender may foreclose on the property, or the owner or the heir of the owner may pay the lien off. Naturally, the person who will inherit the home may object to a reverse mortgage for that reason. It’s important to discuss this option with adult children or other heirs.
- Reverse mortgages are specifically for seniors who need to supplement their funds in retirement, so only adults aged 62 and older are eligible
- The property must be a single-family residence, 1-4 unit multi-family property, approved planned unit development, or condo.
- The property must be the primary residence
- Unlike a traditional mortgage, reverse mortgages rise over time as interest on the loan accrues – that means the amount owed will actually increase over time, not decrease
- Borrowers are required to attend financial counseling before closing
3. Private Pay
The most common way families pay for assisted living is through private pay with their own personal funds. This can include personal savings, pension payments, income from investments, and more. If the individual moving to assisted living has a house they will no longer be living in, selling it and using the proceeds to pay for assisted living is a great option. You can also look into cashing in personal investment portfolios like 401(k) plans or IRAs. However, depending on the costs and how long the services will be needed, paying out of pocket can really add up over time. That’s why many families look for resources that can help out.
What Resources Are Available To Help Pay for Assisted Living in Texas?
If you don’t want to or aren’t able to use the above options, or are looking for some help with cutting some of the costs, these resources can help:
1. Veterans Benefits
Benefits issued by the Aid & Attendance program from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (more commonly known as the VA) help to support veterans and their surviving spouses. This program was designed to help veterans who were active during wartime.
Eligibility for Aid & Attendance Veterans Benefits
- Applicants must be a veteran or the spouse of a veteran who’s served at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime
- Applicants must meet a medical qualification test, but their conditions don’t need to be related to military service
- The income limit for receiving benefits is $21,107 a year for a veteran with no dependents, but this is offset by out-of-pocket medical expenses. So, if your annual income is $25,000, but you pay $10,000 per year for medical expenses (this can include the cost of assisted living), then the VA would count only $15,000 worth of income toward eligibility.
Benefits Offered With the Veterans Aid & Attendance Program
Aid & Attendance pays out a maximum benefit of $2,085 a month for married veterans, $1,759 for single veterans and $1,130 for a surviving spouse.
Medicare, government-issued health insurance for individuals aged 65 and older, doesn’t cover the costs of assisted living or other long-term care, but it can help to cover ‘qualified healthcare costs’ while your loved one is living at a facility. That means that while it won’t pay for the major costs of an assisted living community, it will cover smaller related costs, like medical supplies, prescription drugs, and certain doctors’ services.
If you could use some help understanding Medicare benefits in Texas and what they cover, or help with paying Medicare premiums, copays, or prescription costs, the Texas Health Information, Counseling and Advocacy Program can help you enroll, find information and provide counseling about your options. You can visit their directory online to find services in your area or call the Texas Medicare Help Line at 800-252-9240.
Medicaid, the government program that provides health coverage to eligible individuals (those who have lower incomes or who have certain disabilities), isn’t accepted by most communities.
3. Aging & Disability Resource Centers
Texas Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) help people of all ages, incomes, and disabilities to get information and one-on-one counseling on the full range of long-term services and supports available in Texas. The ADRCs provide:
- A person-centered, community-based environment that promotes independence and dignity
- Easy access to information and one-on-one options counseling to assist individuals in exploring the full range of long-term services and supports available to meet their needs
- Resources and services to support family caregivers
4. Area Agencies on Aging
There are 28 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) in Texas, which provide services to people aged 60 and older and their family members and caregivers. The AAA were created to give older adults and their families information on and assistance with locating and accessing community services. The services offered by the AAA include:
- Information, referral and assistance
- Benefits counseling and legal assistance
- Care coordination
- Caregiver support services
- In-home support services
- Legal awareness
- Nutrition services
- Ombudsman Program
These services are targeted to those with the greatest economic and social need, such as older adults from low-income households, or who belong to a marginalized group or reside in a rural area.
Assisted Living Should Focus on the ‘Living’
We believe that assisted living should be focused on ‘living.’ What do we mean by that? Too often, older adults are overlooked, but they have the same needs and wants that we all have. They have hobbies and interests and plans and goals. They crave relationships, meaning, fun, and to find their place in the world, just like the rest of us. That’s why we do everything we can to make sure our residents have access to the amenities and resources they need to live a full, interesting, and fun life.
If you or a loved one is ready to see what assisted living in a vibrant senior community is like, schedule a tour of Eagle Flats Village today online or by calling us at 940-552-8181.