Kansas City residents who are engaging in estate planning may initially think that the only option they have once they are no longer able to live on their own is to move into a nursing home. However, these days senior citizens have a variety of options beyond nursing homes that may meet their needs.

For example, many communities have services that aim to help senior citizens stay in their homes. Some of these services include visitor and meal programs, programs that help senior citizens with transportation and programs that help senior citizens with their shopping. These services may be funded through voluntary donations or may be offered to senior citizens at a low cost.

Another option beyond nursing homes may be an “accessory dwelling unit.” These units are simply a second living area added onto a single-family home, such as a basement apartment with a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, that allows family members to live with and care for their elderly relatives. It is important, however, to make sure that such units do not violate any area zoning rules.

Similarly, senior citizens may ask their loved ones to help them with their personal needs at home. Volunteer groups may also provide these services. However, seniors must keep in mind that Medicare will only cover in-home care in certain situations.

Group homes, also known as board and care homes, are places where seniors who are no longer able to live on their own but do not necessarily need nursing care may live. In group homes, seniors may get assistance with certain basic self-care activities. However, Medicaid and Medicare usually do not cover the costs of group homes. Instead, seniors must pay to live in a group home. The amount of such payments may be based on the senior’s income level.

These are only three choices seniors may have beyond nursing homes. There are other care planning options as well. In addition to deciding on their living arrangements, seniors may need to consider the costs of all these options. Placing funds in a trust may be one option. In addition, seniors may also want to create a health care directive and power of attorney as part of a comprehensive estate plan.

Source: Medicare.gov, “Alternatives to nursing homes,” accessed on July 27, 2015

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