Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eldercare Tip: Ways to Cut the Cost of Retirement Living

Your parent lives in a retirement community. Chances are, once a year the dinnertime chatter erupts into a chorus: "How much will they raise the rent?" and "Can I still afford to live here?"

If your aging parent worries about running out of funds, she is not alone. Fortunately seniors can save money without giving up meals, housekeeping, transportation and activities--the main reasons they chose retirement living in the first place. Consider these tested ideas.

1. Ask to transfer to a smaller or cheaper apartment within the same community. Often building managers would rather keep a resident than spend time, effort and dollars to move in someone new. My friend Eleanor moved twice in seven years, first from two bedrooms to one after her husband's death. Later she chose a studio when her assets dwindled. Keep in mind the transfer option is not without sacrifice. Downsizing is difficult, but writing a smaller check each month can pay off in peace of mind.

2. Move to a retirement community with fewer amenities. If your parent enjoys cooking, for example, he or she can often save about $300 to $500 a month by moving to a retirement community offering one meal a day, rather than three.

3. Consider a lower priced retirement community. In Bellevue, Washington, where I work, independent retirement living can range from $1560 for a studio, one-meal program, to over $9000 for two-bedrooms with three meals.

4. If your parent is beginning to need services such as bathing, dressing and medications, a home care agency can help her remain in her retirement apartment. In our community, an independent resident can save $1000 or more a month by using home care instead of moving to assisted living. One caveat: if your parent needs staff support all day long, home care agencies will not save money over a transfer to assisted living.

Can you think of other money-saving ideas?

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