When it comes to retirement, being able to manage your expenses and live out your golden years comfortably is extremely important. Housing payments, medical bills, car insurance, and general monthly spending can make getting older a lot more complicated, especially when considering assisted living. Fortunately, with the added benefit of Social Security, assisted living is a viable option for aging seniors in need of more direct care.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is the process of moving into a care facility, usually due to medical needs, social needs, or overall financial requirements that are unable to be satisfied living independently. Types of assisted living programs range from:
- Senior communities, where individuals or couples can live in their own independent home with other seniors as neighbors
- Retirement communities that allow seniors to have independent bedrooms with access to communal living spaces and 24/7 monitoring care
- Nursing homes, which supply seniors with registered nurses who can help them with normal, everyday functions and provide medical care, such as the administering of medications
In some instances, non-seniors can live in assisted living facilities based on their individual needs. Senior care has often been synonymous with assisted living, but the reasons for requiring assisted living care can vary. For example, some individuals with autism or other developmental issues might need access to someone who can provide them with regular assistance to complete everyday tasks or medical care to live a comfortable life. Assisted living facilities can offer a way to allow these individuals to live with a comfortable and manageable level of independence.
Who Is Eligible for Assisted Living?
Typically, for senior-oriented assisted living facilities, eligibility factors are usually determined primarily by age and health status. As people age, new or worsening health conditions are an inevitable part of this life progression, and the development of these symptoms can impact the level of care needed and the amount of manageable independence these seniors face. For example, in an assisted care facility that functions like a retirement community, residents are usually 65+ years old and require some level of care that’s unattainable with independent living, whether that be strictly health-related with larger issues like dementia or general feebleness that comes with age.
In other scenarios, memory care can be necessary, and establishing a care plan to help monitor and treat seniors with dementia can be a crucial part of the assisted care process. As those with dementia begin to progress with their symptoms, they require constantly adapting care to help them adjust to their surroundings and new cognitive state. For example, a dementia patient can go from high-functioning, able to speak and communicate freely at one point to shutting down and being unable to speak later. Memory care services are available for those with dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases, helping create a stable baseline during such a scary and uncertain stage of their lives.
Social Security vs. Medicaid: What’s the Difference?
For aging seniors, different programs and benefits can help aid the transition from working to retirement. Benefits concerning medical costs, prescription coverage, and general income supplements are available to retirees through Social Security and Medicare. However, there are distinctions between these two programs. To explain these differences, here is a brief overview of each program:
- Social Security. Social Security is a monetary benefit provided by the government to help support retirees financially. These payments are determined by an individual’s working life. As long as they’ve worked for at least ten years and if they’ve paid Social Security taxes in that time, those who retire at 65 or older can receive these monthly support payments. In some instances, individuals can receive Social Security benefits before the age of 65, with the minimum age for retirement being 62. Depending on how long you work and your age at retirement, the size of your Social Security benefits will fluctuate.
- Medicare. Medicare is a government-wide program that helps fund medical aid for those over the age of 65. Similar to Social Security coverage, Medicare benefits are also determined by age, tax payments, and work history. The difference is that they are made to exclusively support health coverage as opposed to general income-related expenses. One of the main differences is age requirements. Social Security has a wide range of flexible age requirements, but Medicare enrollment begins within seven months of your 65th birthday.
Both Social Security and Medicare eligibility are handled by the Social Security Administration, which is often why they get confused with one another. Fortunately, if you choose to collect Social Security before the age of 65, you will automatically be awarded Medicare benefits once you reach 65. Although both programs are different, they both are intended to help make retirement easier to manage and afford.
Can Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?
The flexibility of Social Security benefits allows recipients to use their money on services and amenities of their choice, which can include monthly payments for assisted living services. Medicaid, on the other hand, does not contribute to these monthly payments directly. Colorado’s Elderly, Blind and Disabled (EBD) Waiver is set up as an exemption to this rule, though, and can be used to direct Medicaid support toward these living expenses as well.
When to Seek Assisted Living Services
Getting older can be scary, especially when it comes to losing your independence and looming health issues. Fortunately, the safety net provided by Social Security payments can help with financial planning, but beyond monthly expenses, your age can change your ability to live and function independently.
Assisted care facilities can help you transition from your everyday working life to a more comfortable, easier to manage living situation aimed at giving you constant care with the freedom to plan your daily schedule. At Rocky Mountain Assisted Living, we provide our residents with a full range of amenities, along with 24/7 medical care, helping create a comfortable and self-gratifying retirement community experience. For more information or to schedule a tour of our facility, contact us.