Senior Finance Tips: 16 Experts Share Tips On The Biggest Financial Mistakes Families Make When Planning For Elder Care

When it comes to making financial plans for elder care, the unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of families are extremely unprepared. Whether it’s because many families are too preoccupied with the emotional changes that come with preparing for elder care to then make sufficient financial plans, or because many families’ need for senior care comes as a surprise. Regardless of the situation, financing senior care is not something to be taken lightly, and requires much thought and preparation.

As a senior care resource, finding helpful answers for this topic is important to us, so we set out to uncover the biggest financial mistakes families make when planning for elder care. To help understand these common pitfalls and learn from them, we asked 16 senior care experts the following question:

“What are the biggest financial mistakes seniors and/or their loved ones make in paying for elder care (and how to avoid them)?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide to financial planning for elder care. We hope it will inform you of the most common financial mistakes in order to avoid them,  and ultimately help you make better choices for your loved one.


Meet Our Panel of Senior Finance Experts:

Jody Gastfriend

Jody headshotJody Gastfriend is the VP of Senior Care Services at and is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 25 years of experience in the field of eldercare.  Jody’s broad range of leadership positions include Director of the Department of Social Services and Case Management at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Clinical Supervisor within the Social Service Department of Massachusetts General Hospital, Chief Operating Officer of a Medicare-certified visiting nurse association, and Director of Adult Care Services at a national backup care company where she established an eldercare division serving more than 130,000 employees.

Jody shares the personal journey of her clients, having helped manage the care of her own parent with dementia for more than a decade. Additionally, Jody is a frequent lecturer on senior health topics, and is a featured senior care expert on NBC and Fox News, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post’s Huff/Post50 section, and has published numerous articles on caregiving and aging, including a 5-part series in USA Today.

In my company’s experiences with families trying to plan financially for elder care…

We find that many seniors and their families do not plan ahead for the cost of care. Money can be an incredibly taboo topic in many families. Unfortunately not being open about financial matters can lead to unwelcome surprises when it is time to pay for care. We recommend families consult with elder law attorneys who can assist with estate planning and give guidance around financial matters, particularly if Medicaid may be an option for the senior at some point.

The average person does not realize Medicare does not pay for long term care. This is typically paid for privately, but long term care insurance and Veterans Benefits can also be utilized in many circumstances. Understanding the payer sources and cost of care proactively are important in avoiding financial missteps once care is needed. Education is incredibly important.

Many seniors do not want to spend their private pay funds on care because they would like to be able to leave this money to their families. Unfortunately, if a senior is not receiving appropriate support this can lead to health crises that can possibly result in greater expenses down the road. Speaking with experts like the Senior Care Advisors for guidance on how to approach conversations with parents around unmet care needs has led to many positive outcomes among the families with whom we work.

Ryan McEniff

Ryan mcEniff

Ryan McEnnif is the Owner and operator of Minute Women Inc , a 44 year old home care/elder care company located in Lexington, MA. Minute Women Inc. has been in business since 1969 and has provided thousands of hours of care to seniors in the Boston area.

When it comes to financial mistakes leading up to elder care…

Some of the biggest mistakes I have seen come from a rushed and unexpected discharge from a hospital or nursing home care and because of this: unprepared families.

When a family has no plan in place for an emergency or adult care then that is when financial mistakes can be made. When these circumstances occur many families are under pressure and do not ask the right questions when making these decisions. Because of this, they can end up signing a contract, agreeing to outrageous charges, or both.

For example I have seen customers thankful that they have ended a two-year contract with a home care company they were contractually obligated to spending a certain amount of time with or a certain amount of money with, which ever came faster.

Having a plan of action is the most important part of getting older and understanding what needs to happen. Whether it is having a conversation with an only child or having legal documents written up this allows families to save a lot of money in the long run. Having a plan makes things easier and can save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Finally, another important point is families not knowing about Veterans Aid and Attendance. The Veterans Aid and Attendance program is a federally run pension that provides reimbursement of home care, nursing home care, and assisted living cost to the Veteran and/or their spouse. 95% of people I talk to have no idea what Veterans Aid and Attendance is and how they can benefit from the program. It is a program that is not advertised by the government because so many seniors can benefit from it.

Christopher Rodde

RoddeChristopher Rodde is the President & CEO of Chris brings to more than 15 years experience leading teams within technology start-ups and new business units and more than 8 years experience in online marketing. Together with Jay Goldstein, Chris founded with the mission to simplify the search for families looking for senior care or housing. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned an MBA at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

I think the biggest mistake most people make is that they assume…

That Medicare or their private health insurance will cover the costs of long-term care. Medicare does not pay for assisted living facilities, long-term in-home care and often does not cover longer-term nursing home care. Most individual health care plans do not cover long-term elder care either, unless you specifically buy a long-term care insurance policy. Our Care Advisors get calls every day from people across the country who did not anticipate how expensive elder care can be and are now searching for low-income or subsidized senior housing, which is in very limited supply and often reserved for those with little to no assets or personal savings.

Phillip Christenson

PhillipPhillip Christenson is the Financial Advisor and owner of an independent Financial Planning and Investment Management Company, Phillip James Financial, in Plymouth, MN. He is a CFA Charterholder and provides comprehensive financial advice to individuals and families.

The biggest mistake that seniors and their loved ones can make is…

Not planning ahead.

I had an older couple come to me after the wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They had some long-term-care insurance but only about half of what was going to be needed for proper nursing home care. The prospect of going on Medicaid was a real possibility. The problem was that the husband would still need their assets to live on. We had to plan quickly because of the 5-year look back period for Medicaid. The proper way to handle this situation would have been to run an analysis to determine the cash-flow needs for this type of scenario before it actually occurred. Then we could purchase the proper amount of insurance and set up the appropriate trusts depending on their needs.

Long-term-care is a real risk that can be devastating to your goals and lifestyle. Also, if using a financial planner use a Fee-Only planner as this type of analysis should be included in the cost and the planner won’t have any conflict of interest in selling you an expensive insurance policy that you may or may not need.

Douglas Goldstein, CFP(r)

Douglas GoldsteinDouglas Goldstein is the Founder, Owner, Director of Profile Investment Services, Ltd. He holds the designations of Certified Financial Planner™, Registered Investment Advisor, and Trust and Estate Practitioner. He is a member of both the Financial Planning Association and of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Doug is frequently invited to give lectures as well as teach college courses on investing. He is often invited to comment on financial affairs on radio and TV and in local and international newspapers.

Probably one of the biggest mistakes the seniors make when trying to raise money for elder care…

Is to go for reverse mortgages. Though I see the theory of trying to equity out of a residence, the risks of reverse mortgages are so substantial and the stakes are so high, that for most people, choosing this path could lead to financial devastation. The risks run from large closing costs, the dangers of needing more money in the future, having family members kicked out of the house when they die, the loss of some governmental aid, and more.

Murray Gordon

MurrayGordonMurray Gordon is a nationally-recognized Long Term Care Insurance expert and is the CEO and founder of MAGA Ltd. Over the years, Murray has helped pioneer numerous LTCI enhancements, such as waiver of premium and group premium discounts. In addition to marketing LTCI, he is dedicated to educating the public on long term care issues. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The National Underwriter, and The Chicago Tribune. Nationally-known financial expert Terry Savage considers him “my advisor on long term care policies.”

Among his many civic activities, Murray is a past delegate to the White House Conference on Aging and has participated in the Governor’s Conference on Health and Aging in Chicago and presented to the Chicago Bar Association and International Foundation of Employee Benefits.

My advice for seniors and their loved ones planning for elder care is that…

To every time there is a season. As we pass from one of life’s seasons to the next, it’s important to do so mindfully.

We all want to look after our loved ones. People have worked hard over the years to accumulate assets, it’s a family’s right—and responsibility—to determine what will eventually become of them.

Long Term Care Insurance is Not Like Fine Wine – The opportunity of obtaining prime coverage does not improve with age. The younger you are, the lower your premiums. The healthier you are, the greater your eligibility. It can ensure your family will be taken care of.

Mr. Réne Evan Girard

Rene GirardMr. Réne Evan Girard has a Degree in Health Promotion & Mathematics and has been a Licensed Health Insurance Agent since 2004, with a licensed to practice in 6 states. He currently works with Hesed Insurance Solutions, an independent insurance agency that assists individuals for various insurance needs. He personally took care of father-in-law in home until his passing at age 95 is now taking care of his mother-in-law at age 83.

In my experiences, the biggest financial mistakes families make regarding elder care include: 

#1 – Not paying for elder care – taking the burden completely upon themselves when they could have / should have paid for professional in home assistance. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak, time is money, and most people need a skilled and knowledgeable caregiver to help with the daily activities of living as well as healthcare decisions.
#2 – Paying for inadequate care – There can be a tremendous difference in both the quality and the cost of caregivers and assisted living facilities. And many times you get what you pay for. Medicare and Medicaid facilities are often the worst.

Seniors and their loved ones should make sure they have a long term care insurance policy that easily cover the cost for the best in home care, as well as assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

David Kassir

David Kassir

David Kassir began his wealth management career in 1995. At an early age he naturally gravitated towards finance. He is the owner and CEO of Manna Capital Management, which has been operating since 1962. Mr. Kassir is involved in other ventures such as investment property management and a 501c3 nonprofit organization aimed at easing the lives of homeless individuals in the Washington, D.C. metro area, The Kassir Foundation.

When it comes to making the right choices as a senior or family looking into elder care…

A lot of the biggest mistakes are planning failures. The biggest being not planning at all.

Sometimes people plan too optimistically by not taking honest assessments of retirement savings. Or too pessimistically by not expecting to live as long as they actually will. This directly affects paying for elder care. Elder care can be really expensive. According to
fidelity investments, the average 65 year old couple will spend $240,000 in health care expenses (not including long term care.) Many people don’t take honest assessments of their savings and what they can expect to spend. This can end up forcing some expenses on loved ones.

Patrick Brault, CPA

Patrick BraultPatrick Brault is the Principal and Regional Director of Hewins Financial Advisors, LLP. Pat has served high-net-worth individuals, 401(k) plans and foundations since the early 80s. In his view, every client needs help to “see” how to create and monitor clear, transparent long-term investment strategies. Pat offers Visual Interactive Planning™ (VIP™), a technology-based service that helps clients “see” different investment scenarios, by changing risk tolerance and return expectations.

I have seen many seniors and families struggle to make financial decisions regarding elder care. Some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen are…

1. Lack of communication between the parent(s) and family members

For a lot of families the conversations centered on level of care are never discussed between the parents and family until it’s too late and they’re in crisis mode. Generational differences, along with cognitive issues like dementia, often times create conflicts between parents, family members, and health care providers. Parents may have strong feelings on how they want things handled yet family members struggle with what they feel are good solutions for them. We’re also living in times where the availability of family members is more limited given two wage-earners dynamic. In addition, families are not living close to one another as was the case in the past..

2. Not understanding living options in retirement and how to pay for them

Seniors generally have three primary options for how they’ll receive care in retirement; at home, assisted living, or a nursing home. All three have various quality of life benefits, different outcomes and payments. Medicare is the primary funding source for healthcare in retirement. Services for hospitals, doctors and other health care offerings come under Medicare Part A or Part B. The issues arise when seniors and their families haven’t planned for the level of care, and budgeted for the potential costs.

For example; a senior facing multiple physical issues along with a cognitive health decline or dementia, is struggling with the decision to either stay in his or her own home, move to assisted living or to a nursing home. While staying in her own home is preferred, Medicare only covers medically necessary services, not the full 24/7 supervision needed. The senior is paying a family member at the present, which places a lot of burden on that individual, while depleting financial assets and also bringing about the possibility of raising friction among siblings.

According to AARP, assisted living remains primarily private pay, and as of 2000, 67% of assisted living seniors paid with their own funds, with 8% supported by family members and 2% from long-term care insurance. Due to higher cost and lack of public subsidies, assisted living is often not an option for those who would prefer it. Also, unlike nursing homes, there are no federal quality standards for assisted living.

3. Not having a plan

At the end of the day the respect and dignity deserved by our aging parents must be the first priority. Getting the conversation started and working out a plan of action will take patience and the support of the children or other key advisors to the senior. It’s very common for a senior to not openly discuss their personal health care and financial situation. However, this is where time well spent will help all parties work together in harmony and in the best interests of the senior. For those seniors who have not been able to work out a plan they may not live out their later years in the best way and their quality of life will diminish.

The senior, along with their appointed agents (by way of powers of attorney, durable financial power of attorney or health care power of attorney[t1] ) should gather a team of family members, friends, and others (from work, organizations, church or associations) to collaborate on planning for health care. As there are a lot of challenges both emotionally and financially with health care delivery, no one person should be burdened with this responsibility alone. Once there is open communication, a plan developed, and emotions but aside, a proper balance of health care options and cost maybe balanced to best serve the senior.

4. Lack of protection from fraud and identity theft

Recent studies indicate that the most vulnerable groups for identity theft are ages 30 or younger, along with those ages 55 and older. While the majority of health care professionals and providers working in the Medicare related field are honest, there can be exceptions. The most common fraud occurs when services are billing and never provided. As with any financial transaction either the senior or someone with a financial power of duty for the senior should be reviewing statements for health care services. Typically this means contacting the health care service provider, or, if the senior is under original Medicare, reviewing Medicare claims at, or, dial 1-800- MEDICARE (1-800-663-4227) to report any potential errors.

In addition to Medicare fraud, the other financial risk to seniors is the protection of their identity. Seniors, along with their appointed financial and health care givers, need to be aware of the threat to privacy for seniors, signs they are a victim of identity theft and having a personal security plan in place. If the senior is not mentally or physically able to act diligently, their appointed financial agent (power of attorney for financial matters) should take steps to secure and review their financial information and report any questionable activities.

In summary, as our nation’s population ages the need for open communication, along with planning for our seniors is essential so they’re provided the level of health care they want and afford.

Jeff Salter

Jeff SalterJeff Salter is the Founder and CEO of Caring Senior Service. Jeff Salter founded Caring Senior Service in 1991 after having worked at a home health company in Odessa, Texas. While working for the medical-only health company, he noticed the tremendous amount of seniors in the community who needed help with non-medical, basic things such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands and bathing. By 1994, he moved to McAllen Texas and expanded his business to Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Today, Caring Senior Service is nationally franchised, and has the belief that every senior should be able to remain happy, healthy and at home.

The biggest mistake seniors and their loved ones make is…

Not getting proper advice on what services are actually needed. Too often, senior care providers are ‘order takers’ and happily provide seniors with the services that are requested and don’t take a full assessment of what is needed. They should take into account their current need, length of time they may need services and create a plan that solves the issues today and plans for tomorrow. Often times, senior care companies provide unnecessary services at great expense, leaving the decision up to the senior and the families to determine how much they need. While it is a consumer choice, senior care companies should provide a complete consultation so the senior does not run out of funds and end up without the ability to pay for needed assistance.

Gina Kaurich, RN

GinaGina Kaurich, RN is Executive Director of Client Care Services at FirstLight HomeCare. Gina started her healthcare career as a Candy Striper in Junior High and now has over 35 years of experience as a Registered Nurse. She is credentialed as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager, Nationally Certified Dementia Care Practitioner and certified as a Master Coach and Trainer. Her nursing career has extended through Clinical Administrator for a Hospital System, Director of Nursing in a Continuing Care Community, VP of Clinical Operations in Home Care and she volunteered as a Certified Paramedic for her local life squad.

In my experiences with many families, the biggest financial mistake seniors and their loved ones make in paying for elder care…

Is not discovering all of the potential resource options available to them. For instance if the senior or their spouse was a military vet the individual can receive money for their non-medical care through the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit or via a Long Term Benefit Plan or an annuity where the seniors death benefit of an in-force life insurance policy into a financial vehicle for care. The best way to become informed is through a community resource such as FirstLight HomeCare, a care manager, elder law attorney or elder financial adviser.

Another financial mistake is to believe the only option is to become Medicaid qualified through a spend down and liquidation of property in order to receive care and services. There are many state and community programs which can assist the senior in staying at home and receiving meals, transportation, health and wellness checks, homemaking and personal care services. As was stated previously, finding a community resource such as those listed above will allow the person to remain in the comfort of their own home and independent.

Brian A. Raphan, Esq.

Brian RaphanBrian A. Raphan is founder and lead counsel of the Law Offices of Brian A. Raphan, P.C., an elder law firm in New York City. He has been serving the legal needs of elders for over 25 years. His cases have been written about in The New York Times, The New York Law Journal, The Villager, Elder Law Answers, and has appeared on CBS News television and NY Radio. He is also a regular editorial contributor to The Senior News on legal issues and frequently gives pro bono lectures throughout New York City at senior and assisted living facilities on legal matters facing the elderly.

Brian has vast experience with all Elder Care legal issues, handling estates of all sizes with expertise in the preparation of: Simple or Complex Wills, Trusts, Living Trusts, Medicaid Planning, Asset Protection Trusts and Guardianships.

When it comes to making financial decisions for elder care, the biggest single mistake is…

Not planning ahead. Under that umbrella are many other mistakes. Such as:

1. Thinking it’s too late to plan. It’s almost never too late to take planning steps, even after a senior has moved to a nursing home.

2. Giving away assets too early. First, it’s your money (or your house, or both). Make sure you take care of yourself first. Don’t put your security at risk by putting it in the hands of your children. Precipitous transfers can cause difficult tax and Medicaid problems as well.

3. Ignoring important safe harbors created by Congress. Certain transfers are allowable without jeopardizing Medicaid eligibility. These include: transfers to disabled children, caretaker children, certain siblings and into trust for anyone who is disabled and under age 65 ; a transfer to a “pay-back” trust if under age 65 ; and a transfer to a pooled disability trust at any age.

4. Failing to take advantage of protections for the spouse of a nursing home resident. These protections include the purchase of an immediate annuity, petitioning for an increased community spouse resource allowance, and in some instances petitioning for an increased income allowance or refusing to cooperate with the nursing home spouse’s Medicaid application.

5. Applying for Medicaid too early. This can result in a longer ineligibility period in some instances.

6. Applying for Medicaid too late. This can mean the loss of many months of eligibility.

7. Not getting expert help. This is a complicated field that most people deal with only once in their lives. Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake.. It’s penny wise and pound foolish not to consult with people who make their living guiding clients through the process.

8. Not knowing what to plan for. Many people don’t realize that even if they don’t end up in a nursing home, even home care at home or an assisted living facility can wipe them out. And put them out—if they run out of funds. When shopping a facility, it’s wise to select one that will accept Medicaid after assets are depleted. If this is the case you can plan wisely and leave funds protected for your family, spouse or loved ones.

Steve Barlam

Steve BarlamSteve Barlam is the CEO and co-founder of LivHome and has over 30 years of experience working directly with families as a MSW, LCSW and CMC. Steve Barlam co-founded LivHOME in 1999 with Mike Nicholson, Chief Executive Officer. Since 1984, Steve has worked exclusively in the field of geriatric care management. His experience draws from work in both the nonprofit family services arena as well as from his own private for-profit care management firm. Steve is a recognized leader in the field of geriatric care management and is professionally active as a speaker and writer at both the local and national levels.

The biggest financial mistake seniors and their loved ones can make in paying for elder care is…

Waiting too long before seeking advice from a financial or estate planning professional.

The longer you wait, the more costly the options become. When adopted too late in the game, they also tend to be less appropriate to the need at hand. For example, if a senior loses the capacity to engage in the decision-making process, his or her family may need to go through a more costly procedure such as conservatorship or guardianship, bringing in the court system. The senior may no longer have the wherewithal to apply for public benefits, or to express preferences that are in his or her best interest. In these cases, money will be spent on sub-optmial choices – which is a big financial mistake.

For this reason, I recommend anticipating potential eldercare needs and beginning conversations about them long before they are needed.

There are also important emotional costs to take into account: for example, the trauma of moving somebody into the wrong level of care, often against his or her will.

Joseph DeMattos

Joseph DeMattosJoseph DeMattos is president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, which represents most of Maryland’s 233 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. He is an adjunct instructor teaching leadership at the Erikson School of Aging at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

One of the biggest financial mistakes seniors and their families make actually is…

Not having the conversation about financials in the first place. It would seem logical that today’s elders and their adult children would discuss financial plans for long-term care, however only a small percentage initiates this discussion. Many wait until there’s an acute care crisis or much later in the process when the senior has already lost independence to discuss finances. Adult children should approach their elder parents while they are healthy to discuss care plans and financial strategy.

Another mistake is seniors and their children not knowing where financial and legal documents reside or if they even exist. Seniors and their adult children should discuss power of attorney, wills, trusts and advance directives and review these documents often.

Lynda L. Hinkle, Esq.

LyndaLynda L. Hinkle is the head attorney of The Law Offices of Lynda L. Hinkle, a professional law firm serving clients in various cases. Lynda Hinkle is a bar certified attorney in the State of New Jersey, holds a J. D. from Rutgers School of Law Camden and she practices in the areas of Family, Domestic Violence, Child Custody, Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Small Business, Municipal Defense, Real Estate and Elder Law. Even before becoming an attorney, Hinkle was working hard to better the lives of families and individuals. Her experience in community service is incredibly extensive in both length and breadth.  She has worked as a teacher, an adjunct professor and an entrepreneur.

The biggest mistake that families make in financial decision making for their elderly members is…

Failing to consult an attorney as to the possible ramifications of financial decisions on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as their overall financial health. There are many pitfalls families can drop into easily without legal advice, and with a five year look back on Medicaid applications those financial pitfalls can be hit way earlier than the need for care.

Rob Stark

Stark Headshot

Robert Stark is the President of Melville Capital, LLC. The firm’s significant experience makes Melville uniquely qualified to handle all aspects of advisory and brokerage relating to Life Settlements.

Rob has been involved with finance, lending and life insurance for over 20 years. He is a licensed Life Agent and Life Settlement Broker in numerous states and holds Series 7 and 63 licenses in order to transact in Variable policies.

My best advice regarding financial planning for senior care is most relevant when life insurance coverage exists because…

It is essential to know ones options and have a strategy on how to turn this insurance into a benefit while still living.

Life insurance is an asset like stocks or bonds that can be sold.  As insureds age the risks they took life insurance coverage to insure (family needs, estate planning, etc.) have likely diminished or disappeared entirely.  The sale of a life insurance policy, as well as the money saved from avoiding future premium payments on that policy, can provide significant proceeds for all types of elder care needs.

A Life Settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy for a lump-sum cash amount exceeding the policy’s cash surrender value.  If an insured is 75 years of age or older, and has experienced a change in health since their life insurance policy was issued, a Life Settlement transaction must be examined.

Seniors and their Advisors, have been repeatedly told that seniors must “spend-down” their assets in order to eventually qualify for Medicaid.  For years, this advice has led seniors to surrender or lapse valuable life insurance policies.  55% of seniors surveyed by ICR Life Insurance lapsed policies because the policies were viewed as liabilities and not assets.  Worse yet, according to a recent study by the Insurance Studies Institute, 49% of financial advisors either know very little or nothing about Life Settlements and therefore do not recommended this solution to a client.

Life Settlements are suitable in any situation where a policy insuring a senior is either no longer needed or no longer affordable.  The financial benefits from a Life Settlement can provide for senior care needs and avoid reliance on family members for these expenses.

Bryan Stapp

Bryan Stapp is President of Medical Care Alert, a leading nationwide provider of medical alert emergency response systems for seniors.

The biggest mistake we see families make is….

Not being prepared or proactive with their elderly loved one, and having to be forced into a decision at a moments notice because of an unforeseen event (fall in the home, illness, etc).

Most of our clients for our medical alert systems get them because they recognize the preventative nature of the service (like an insurance policy), and the freedom and peace of mind it gives them and their families.

However, we often have folks get a system AFTER a fall has occurred and their parent has been left alone for hours on the floor. Typically we see those systems returned in 30-45 days as they are now unable to live independently at home and have been forced into a different living situation.



Medicaid: It’s Not Blanket Coverage!


Tighten Your Belt - Austerity

People tend to think of Medicare and Medicaid in a single breath, like peanut butter and jelly. But the two programs, while complementary, address distinct aspects of senior health care and finances. And neither of them offers blanket coverage for assisted living, despite this common misconception.


Medicare, examined in detail in a previous post, covers:

  • Qualified medical care in a hospital
  • Short-terms stays in a skilled nursing facility (SNF)
  • Nursing home care (as long as the resident requires actual nursing care and not simply “custodial assistance” with daily needs such as bathing, dressing and eating)
  • Hospice care
  • Home health care, including physical and occupational therapy as medically prescribed.

There will also usually be out-of-pocket copayments, unless the Medicare recipient has additional insurance or another form of financial aid that covers these charges.

Medicaid, in contrast, is the “fallback resource” for financial assistance once Medicare coverage ends. Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 4.6 million low-income seniors, most of whom are also enrolled in Medicare. Services that are covered by both programs are paid first by Medicare, with Medicaid funding the difference up to each state’s payment ceiling.

However, while many nursing home residents rely on Medicaid as their principle form of financial aid, Medicaid will not generally pay for assisted living, although there are some states in which this is an option. In these situations, the individual must qualify for Medicaid and reside in an assisted living facility that participates in the state’s Medicaid program.

Though each state has different qualifying parameters for Medicaid, up until now all eligibility standards entailed exhausting one’s personal assets — an issue for seniors who wish to provide for their families or a spouse.

But the new Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in March, 2010 and which takes effect on January 1, 2014, contains a clause that protects couples from “spousal impoverishment” if one partner enters a hospital or nursing facility and is expected to be there for at least 30 days. This is a boon for seniors who exceed the Medicaid personal asset threshold yet do not have sufficient resources to pay for care once Medicare runs out, and don’t want to “spend down” the rest of their savings in order to qualify for benefits.

The best move for seniors who may wish to utilize the Medicaid program for housing support? Check with your state’s Medicaid office to see whether Medicaid coverage for assisted living or other senior living options is available in your state. If you plan to use Medicaid as financial aid for assisted living, be sure to ask whether the facility you’re considering moving to participates in your state’s Medicaid program.

You’ll find information about both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as many more suggestions concerning how to finance senior care, in this senior living financing guide.

About the Author:

Amara Rose is a personal and business coach with a broad background in health and positive aging. She writes widely about senior housing, elder health and nutrition, lifelong learning and the spiritual dimension of aging. Contact her via email



Top Assisted Living Facilities in New York

New York, the Empire State, is the 27th largest state in the country, and the third most populated, largely because of New York City–the most populous city in the U.S. Assisted living facilities are numerous to support the growing need for care, and to offer choices for both city dwellers who want to remain in the heart of activity and for those who want to live outside the city–in Western or Upstate New York, enjoying the attractions that abound.

Finding quality assisted living in New York is made easier with this list of facilities that cover the state, from Buffalo to Albany to Long Island. Facilities on this list offer a range of services, from independent living to specialized memory care for residents with Alzheimer’s or other memory impairments. Living quarters range private cottage home and apartments to semi-private rooms. These Top Assisted Living Facilities in New York includes assisted living facilities that offer daily help with tasks of daily living, delicious dining, healthcare and medication management, hospitality, transportation, social activities and more, from affordable to luxury.
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Top New York Assisted Living Facility

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Wondering how we came up with our list? Read criteria for creating our list of top assisted living facilities.

In alphabetical order, here are the Top Assisted Living facilities in New York.

Atria on the Hudson

321 North Highland Avenue

Ossining, NY10562

(914) 401-4430

Atria on the Hudson in Ossining, NY, is a 10-acre campus overlooking the Hudson River that is luxurious indoors and beautiful outdoors. Purposeful in its design, Atria on the Hudson strives for sustainable, earning LEED Silver certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development) in design, and offering classes and programs that help residents stay active. Enhanced assisted living licensure allows the facility to extend further care to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Learn more about Atria on the Hudson.


Atria Shaker

345 Northern Boulevard

Albany, NY12204

(518) 595-4278

A combination of a supportive, encouraging staff and the close proximity to recreation and entertainment allow residents at Atria Shaker in Albany to engage with their community and live a vibrant and engaging lifestyle. Their Life Guidance memory care neighborhood offers safety and compassionate care for residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other cognitive impairments. The Cafe is a comfortable place to meet friends, clubs offer a variety of ways to connect with other residents and a computer lab offers ways to connect online. With a host of amenities and floor plans, Atria Shaker is Assisted Living at its best.

Learn more at Atria Shaker.


Brandywine Senior Living at the Savoy

55-15 Little Neck Parkway

Little Neck, NY11362

(718) 423-2639

Affordable elegance for seniors awaits at Brandywine Senior Living at the Savoy, conveniently located along the Queens/Nassau border, accessible to the Long Island Expressway. The residence offers home-like accommodations and quality services from a caring staff. The Savoy’s mix of supportive services, social activities, signature programs and exceptional environment sets the bar for independent and assisted living.

Learn more about Brandywine Senior Living at the Savoy.

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Five Star Premiere Residences of Yonkers

537 Riverdale Avenue

Yonkers, NY10705

(914) 709-1234

A beautiful retirement community with views of the Hudson River, Five Star Premiere Residences of Yonkers is located in a charming community, yet close to the energy and culture of Manhattan. Offering independent senior living, assisted living and memory care, Five Star advocates choices for seniors, from floor plans to funding options. No up-front buy-in fees and a clear rent-based pricing structure is simple to understand, and living at Five Star is simply enjoyable.

Learn more at Five Star Premiere Residences of Yonkers.


Home Sweet Home of Athens

71 Second Street

Athens, NY12015

(518) 945-1673

In a cozy, home-like setting, residents of Home Sweet Home of Athens Assisted Living facility enjoy socialization, expert nursing care and personal attention. With both private and semi-private rooms available, the staff–all like family–encourage residents to bring their personalities into their living spaces. From housekeeping services to medication management, dieticians on staff, transportation and social and recreational programs, Home Sweet Home of Athens lives up to its name.

Learn more at Home Sweet Home of Athens.


Amber Court of Pelham Gardens

1800 Waring Avenue

Bronx, NY10469

(718) 379-4400

Convenience is a major draw to Amber Court of Pelham Gardens, along with the careful medical supervision, friendly ambiance, stimulating recreational programs, care to preserve each residents’ individuality and devoted team of professionals who all care to enhance their residents’ lives. In a suburban neighborhood of the Bronx, Amber Court of Pelham Gardens is near several major highways, shopping and many of New York’s best attractions.

Learn more about Amber Court of Pelham Gardens.


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Emeritus at Landing of Brockport

90 West Avenue

Brockport, NY14420

(585) 391-1237

A community of 98 senior apartments near Rochester, NY, and nearer to the Village of Brockport, the friendly atmosphere at Emeritus at Landing of Brockport offers comfort, choices and a lovely community feel. Apartments include private baths and kitchenettes along with a variety of floor plans. Social events, trips into Rochester, a library, wellness center, television lounge and much more make Emeritus at Landing of Brockport an inviting place to call home.

Learn more about Emeritus at Landing of Brockport.


Horizons-A DePaul Senior Living Community

3132 State Route 21 South

Canandaigua, NY14424

(585) 396-3390

Horizons-A DePaul Senior Living Community in Canandaigua, NY, is a welcoming home for both the senior residents and their families. A place that encourages extended family to be involved in the life of their loved ones, Horizons provides expert care, comforting amenities, beautifully furnished rooms with private baths, nutritious meals, housekeeping services, transportation, safety and a pet-friendly attitude. Located in the scenic Finger Lakes region, the daily landscape is always peaceful.

Learn more about Horizons-A DePaul Senior Living Community.


Oyster Bay Manor Assisted Living

150 South Street

Oyster Bay, NY11771

(516) 624-0600

Understanding that quality of life is directly linked to a person’s environment, the staff at Oyster Bay Manor Assisted Living commit to personal, compassionate care for each resident. A host of amenities and services from daily housekeeping to recreational activities, to weekly religious services, a beauty parlor/barber shop, transportation, healthy meals, and more make Oyster Bay’s environment, nearby the Gold Coast of Long Island, inviting. Dementia care is also available for residents by specialized staff.

Learn more at Oyster Bay Manor.


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Sunrise of Staten Island

801 Narrows Road North

Staten Island, NY10304

(718) 727-8498

Just a few of the highlights of living at Sunrise of Staten Island assisted living include the community’s location, just along the service road of the Staten Island expressway, near New Jersey and Brooklyn. The facility offers rent-stabilized homes, weekly and monthly wellness visits, a daily conditioning club for strength and mobility and family support groups for residents with memory impairments. Embracing the Sunrise core value of “Joy in Service,” residents are not only taken care of, but truly cared for.

Learn more about Sunrise of Staten Island.


Tanglewood Manor

560 Fairmount Avenue WE

Jamestown, NY14701

(716) 483-2876

The care programs at Tanglewood Manor in Jamestown are extensive, from independent adult living to extended levels of care, assisted living, respite care and adult day services. While the enjoyment of life is the focus with celebrations, regular happy hours, holiday events, even a traveling co-ed choral ensemble, the day-to-day details that become difficult are taken care of by an expert staff. Weekly reviews assess physical, emotional and social well being, and staff is available for rapid response at any time.

Learn more at Tanglewood Manor.


Tennyson Court Assisted Living & Memory Care

49 Tennnyson Court

Williamsville, NY14221

(716) 632-9499

Offering assisted living, memory care and respite care services to seniors in the greater Buffalo, NY, area, Tennyson Court Assisted Living & Memory Care promotes independence and freedom while understanding the needs of older adults. A variety of floor plans and living options provide comfort while on-site medical care and case management services provide safety and wellness to residents. Additionally, wellness in the form of social events, outings and recreation is a staple to residents of Tennyson Court.

Learn more about Tennyson Court Assisted Living & Memory Care.


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The Arbors at Bohemia

1065 Smithtown Avenue

Bohemia, NY 11716

(651) 567-3113

Located a short distance from Long Island’s South Shore beaches, The Arbors at Bohemia is more than a retirement community. Here, active older adults find friendships, support, convenience to cultural events, shopping, banking, restaurants, medical offices and more. Their affordable senior living communities strive to mirror a 5-star hotel, offering amenities and services that make daily life easier and more enjoyable.

Learn more at The Arbors at Bohemia.


The Fountains at RiverVue

One RiverVue Place

Tuckahoe, NY10707

(914) 574-2393

Perhaps better known as the “un-retirement,” The Fountains at RiverVue is part of the greater Watermark community of senior living residencies. Outstanding in care and amenities, the Fountains at RiverVue meets the need for nearly every interest, from billiards to the arts to nature walks and a computer lab. A focus on health means preventative screenings and regularly scheduled exercise programs. And its location in the quaint village of Tuckahoe, only 30 minutes from Manhattan, affords the best of both worlds.

Learn more about The Fountains at RiverVue.


The Kensington at White Plains

100 Maple Avenue

White Plains, NY10601

(914) 390-0080

The Kensington assisted living community in White Plains is licensed for “enhanced” assisted living, meaning that their services embrace a full spectrum of clinical support as the needs for each resident change. From help with daily living to full Alzheimer’s and dementia care in a familiar and comfortable setting, the services and amenities at The Kensington offer a continuum of care. The Kensington even employs a full-time activities coordinator for diverse and interesting recreational and social activities that make the facility feel like a community.

Learn more at The Kensington at White Plains.


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The Plains at Parish Homestead

163 Heritage Circle

Oneonta, NY13820

(607) 267-4013

Living options at The Plains at Parish Homestead in Oneonta range from Independent living apartments to Memory Care apartments. Owned and operated by Living Communities, the 31-acre community offers 39 Patio Homes which residents own and 64 Independent, 28 Assisted Living and 16 Memory Care Apartments for lease. Residents enjoy personal care, housekeeping and linen service, meals, transportation, wellness programs, an emergency response system and more.

Learn more at The Plains at Parish Homestead.


The Promenade at Tuxedo Place

40 Hospital Road

Tuxedo, NY10987

(845) 351-0000

The Promenade at Tuxedo Place is an affordable luxury senior residence. Offering gourmet meals, a Lifestyles Program to enrich the mind, body and spirit, and a regular schedule of trips, residents at The Promenade stay active and busy. Located in the quaint and historic Town of Tuxedo, the community offers its residents many amenities including, a cozy parlor with fireplace, library and computer center with internet access, outdoor decks, gardens and natural walkways, a billiards room, TV room, beauty salon, exercise room, and more all in a warm and caring environment.

Learn more about The Promenade at Tuxedo Place.


The Shire at Culverton

2515 Culver Road

Rochester, NY14609

(585) 467-4544

The Shire at Culverton in Rochester provides one- or two-bedroom apartments along a quiet, tree-lined property, boasting reasonable prices. Fulfillment and fun is a big focus at The Shire at Culverton because of the myriad of activities and outings, parties and celebrations. Amenities include housekeeping, laundry, transportation and medication administration. Perhaps most appreciated is the calming, beautiful landscape of trees and bushes, well-maintained lawns and flower gardens that entice residents outdoors.

Learn more about The Shire at Culverton.


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The Terrace at Woodland

8299 Turin Road

Rome, NY13440

(315) 336-0307

Living your life the way you want is the philosophy at The Terrace at Woodland in Rome, NY. Offering choices and independence without the worry of safety, housework, daily living tasks, isolation or loneliness. Skilled care is always a call away, and a specialized Memory Care Neighborhood is available for residents with cognitive decline. Floor plans range from studio to semi-private to deluxe.

Learn more at The Terrace at Woodland.


Wynwood of Niskayuna

1786 Union Street

Niskayuna, NY12309

(518) 612-7403

Designed and built to provide the comfort and privacy you’d find in your own home, Wynwood of Niskayuna, a Brookdale Senior Living Community, strives to personalize every aspect of life for each resident. Service plans are created that acknowledging the needs, interests and level of care each resident desires. A professional staff offers daily care, develops meaningful programs and outings, delicious meals, medication management, transportation and more at Wynwood of Niskayuna Assisted Living.

Learn more at Wynwood of Niskayuna.

Best Assisted Living Facilities in New York

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