With an increasing aging population- the US Census estimates that elders will outnumber youth by 2035- aging services are becoming more accessible. There are now assisted living facilities and entire retirement communities dedicated to lifestyles that focus on a specific faith, such as Catholic, Jewish, or Presbyterian congregations.
A Catholic assisted living facility is an option that will seem just like home for elders that love their environments to be filled with religious symbology, including beautiful stained glass windows and traditional crucifixes in entryways as part of their aesthetic. Religious services are provided by these facilities, which are often managed by devoted clergies that ensure their religious doctrine is incorporated into their residents’ daily lives.
Numerous choices in senior housing provide a Catholic foundation and allow seniors to retire with others who share their faith. When considering any senior living option it is important to know what amenities and services are required for your loved one’s continued wellness. Some important questions to ask are:
- Is there a community access fee, security deposit, or monthly charges for utilities, storage?
- Can you bring pets, and is there a monthly fee to do so?
- What are the rent costs, and the care costs? What does the care structure look like- do they charge on a point system, or do they have a flat rate fee for services?
- What religious services are scheduled on the daily and weekly calendars? What holidays are celebrated and how are residents encouraged to celebrate?
- If memory care or hospice becomes needed, will this community be able to help your loved one easily transition into an appropriate care setting, or will they be able to provide their services within the facility?
An Overview of Catholic Senior Housing
When it comes to senior living, one can never be too selective. In addition to finding the proper level of eldercare and a program that fits all of a senior’s needs and budget, it’s important that the staff providing care in a Catholic assisted living facility is sensitive to the spiritual needs of residents and are committed to maintaining the sanctity of their residents’ homes. These facilities offer seniors a smart alternative to depending on a member of the family or living alone. They combine the best elements of independent senior living with the rich heritage of the church.
Catholic assisted living facilities provide the same secure and healthy surrounding one would expect from any other assisted living facility, with an emphasis on providing a traditional Catholic lifestyle. The environment in these communities is one that is conducive to aging safely, with features like handrails on the walls and in restrooms to help residents prevent falls, a full-time staff, and friendly caregivers. In addition, Catholic assisted living homes provide a spiritual atmosphere where residents typically will have convenient access to a church.
Typically, Catholic assisted living facilities are planned with careful thought to the desires of the residents. These care homes offer greater privacy and a diverse mixture of enjoying access to daily mass, prayers, confessional and other fun recreational activities and Catholic senior services. They provide a comfortable home where individuals will take pleasure in their independence. These facilities are generally associated with local parishes and many centers have large chapels for residents to enjoy with their friends and families on Sundays, holidays, and other times during the week. You can check a facilities’ calendar to see what exact days services and confession are scheduled.
Catholic Assisted Living Amenities
Assisted living provides personal support and health care that constantly adjusts to meet the resident’s needs. Senior living communities respect the dignity of all residents and encourage their independence by offering support and assistance when needed. When facing needs with activities of daily living (ADLs), religious seniors appreciate the thoughtful assistance provided by caregivers that are sensitive to their physical as well as spiritual needs. A Catholic assisted living community allows as much freedom and independence as a senior wishes while at the same time still having the companionship of others who share the same faith. Like other senior care communities, these care homes offer a wide choice of amenities and services for residents with different requirements, needs and budgets. Common amenities residents can enjoy include:
- Craft rooms, garden areas, and other places for residents to enjoy hobbies together
- Salons and barbers with professional services, usually offered for a discounted fee
- Fitness centers with carefully planned aerobic plans for residents, pools, and spas
- Dining rooms with diets planned for maximizing nutrition as well as being delicious
- Movie theaters, media rooms and libraries and so much more.
- Faith-based amenities such as spiritual shops, chapels, daily mass and confessionals.
Choosing a Catholic Assisted Living Facility
The process of choosing the right assisted living facility can seem overwhelming because there are a ton of choices across the country. Fortunately, this leaves room for many facilities to specialize and create the perfect home for a variety of people. Many Catholic-based senior living options are fully-inclusive retirement communities, with rooms available for independent living, assisted living, memory care, and often hospice as well. These centers are also called continuum-of-care communities, meaning they are designed to accept residents when they are early in their aging journey, such as when they need independent living with access to some aging services, or an assisted living facility.
These facilities have similar monthly rents to other facilities, but often have a community fee. This fee can be quite costly, but it is applied towards the monthly rent and fees for care that the resident receives while living in the facility and is generally returned if the resident moves out if paid in a lump sum- make sure to ask the facility exactly what their fee structure looks like and what happens to any security deposits and escrow accounts set up to pay for care received while living there.
It’s important to research any facility you’re considering to make sure that it has a set up your loved ones will like. Facilities offer free tours to anyone interested in becoming a resident, so make sure to utilize this service, which often includes a complimentary meal in their on-site dining area. Assisted living facilities are dedicated to ensuring that all comfort needs of their residents are met, and will always be happy to answer your questions over the phone and in-person. You can get started in your search for an assisted living facility by clicking here.
Paying for Care in a Catholic Assisted Living Facility
One of the most important considerations when planning for your future in a retirement community is the financial burden that will be faced by you and your family. Whether you have Medicare, or VA benefits, or are a private pay retiree, there are plenty of options available that you might be able to utilize to fund your retirement.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is an insurance product quickly growing in popularity and availability as more elders are living longer and needing to re-consider their long-term retirement needs. Often offered by employers, this type of insurance is also offered and insured through the US healthcare market place here.
If you have been paying into a life insurance policy for a number of years, you may be able to cash it in at a percentage of its face value in exchange for monthly payments towards long-term care. See this article on advancing your life insurance policy from the US Department of Health and Human Services for more information. There are many options that may be available to you, such as:
- Life settlements may be available, to women over 74 and men over 70, which allows you to sell your life insurance policy at face value for any reason- you could use this money to fund retirement, pay for a vacation, or put towards the cost of long-term care
- Some policies allow Accelerated Death Benefits (ADB) for a tax-free advancement of their policy, which goes towards monthly payment of up to 2% of the face value of your policy to pay for the cost of long-term care. This benefit may be added to your life insurance policy at an extra cost, or it may be included in your premium. Also, the benefit is usually capped at 50% of the total cash value- make sure to ask your insurance provider to provide all the details about the ADB in your life insurance policy.
- A viatical settlement may be available through your life insurance policy, if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, have two years or less to live, and live in a state where this package is available. This benefit pays out for less than half of applicants, so make sure to verify with your insurance underwriter if you would qualify for benefits.
A reverse mortgage can be taken out on your home to help you pay for the cost of assisted living. This package is available through many lenders but the only insured option is through the US Housing Department (HUD). If you are over age 62 and own your home outright, you may be able to sell it to a lender in a reverse mortgage process where you receive a monthly stipend, and are able to stay in the home, but it is owned by the lender and will be their house when you pass away. The homeowner is required to maintain property insurance and taxes in order to maintain residency in the house, so this option is only for those up to date on their taxes and home insurance requirements.
Veterans benefits may be available to those who served in foreign wars, and their dependents. For qualified elders, there are a variety of benefits available, such as:
- Access to long-term care facilities dedicated to veterans throughout the country
- Health insurance benefits and access to medical clinics for veterans only
- Financial benefits
Reach out to the Veterans Affairs (VA) to find long-term care assistance in your area.
Parish-Based Senior Programs
Most states have an archdiocese that provides social services to their local community. Many churches also provide elder food boxes, as well as day programming and services that can keep your aging loved ones connected with their spiritual communities without breaking the bank. Visit the CatholicCharitiesUSA.org to find programs near you such as food boxes and affordable senior housing.