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Your Aging Parents: Living Arrangements

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Continuing Care Communities

Continuing care communities are those that offer independent living, assisted living, and skilled care, all on the same campus. They're usually large, often upscale complexes, sometimes sprawling over miles of land. The basic concept of a continuing care retirement community is as follows. Mom and Dad pay an entrance fee that gets them a house or an apartment.

Mom and Dad live on their own until something happens that means one of them can't live independently anymore. Let's say that Mom has a stroke. When she returns from the hospital, she and Dad find that she can't take care of herself, and it's too much for Dad to handle. At that point, Mom gets moved to the assisted living section of the community, while Dad remains in the apartment. Dad can go visit Mom every day, and has peace of mind knowing that she's getting the care she needs. If Mom gets well enough to take care of herself again, she moves back in with Dad. If she continues to need assistance, she stays where she is. And, if she encounters another health problem that makes her unable to do anything for herself, she'll be moved to the skilled care section of the facility, which is really a nursing home.

Continuing care communities are expensive places to live. Entrance fees can range from $30,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on the type of dwellings offered. And, monthly fees can vary from $500 to $3,500, depending on services.

Senior Apartments

Senior apartments can be built and run privately, although many are constructed and maintained by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD housing is intended for low-income seniors, and is subsidized by the government. The eligibility for this type of housing varies from state to state, so you'll need to inquire with your local housing authority if you want to see if your parent qualifies. Because this type of housing is built exclusively for seniors and uses federal money, it must be fully handicap-accessible. Most senior apartments have dining rooms where residents may eat, although many include individual kitchens. Some community agencies offer services on-site at senior apartments, and many senior apartments have their own bus or van to transport residents to the doctor, grocery store, or so forth.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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