Everything You Need to Know About Assisted Living for Couples

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Leaving behind a beloved home and moving into a senior living community can be difficult under the best of circumstances. For senior couples, this move can be even more difficult if only one spouse needs the extra help that senior care facilities provide.

In cases where each spouse in an aging couple has different care needs, most people assume that the couple will need to live separately. Fortunately, there are plenty of senior housing options available that can keep elderly couples together, even if their personal care needs differ.

Keep reading to learn more about assisted living for couples and how to find such arrangements in your area.

Keeping Elderly Couples Together

The priority for most families is to ensure aging relatives receive the level of care they require while also keeping elderly married couples together. That task can seem overwhelming at first, but it becomes easier once you know where to start.

Determine their Needs

Before anything else can happen, you will need to determine what the individual needs of each spouse are. One of the most trusted ways to do that is to determine how much help they need with activities of daily living, or ADLs.

ADLs are activities that people need to complete on a daily basis. These activities include toileting, dressing, and feeding. Beyond these basic activities, there are also instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs. IADLs require complex thinking and problem-solving skills and include taking care of pets, driving, financial management, and more.

How much extra help someone needs with ADLs/IADLs will determine the level of care they need.

Explore Senior Housing Options

After determining the care needs of the aging couple, it’s time to search for a senior living arrangement that works for them.

At-home Care

At-home care is senior care received within the comfort of one’s own home. Family members or hired caregivers can provide the caregiving the seniors need. At-home care is a great option for couples who:

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Couples requiring different levels of care may find that continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are their perfect fit. These communities offer various levels of care all at a single location, meaning that someone doesn’t have to hop between communities as their needs change over time.

That means couples with different care needs can live together at CCRCs while still having their individual needs met. Depending on the specific community, shared rooms may or may not be possible. However, the couple can still live close together on the same campus.

Independent Living Community

Independent living is for seniors who need little to no help with ADLs/IADLs. These communities often offer two-bedroom apartments, making them great options for married couples.

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living communities might be the best bet for elderly couples looking to live together. Many assisted living facilities are often part of a larger community that also offer memory care and other services. That means that even if one spouse requires a much higher level of care than the other, they can still live together in the same facility, if not the same room.

Assisted living communities offer higher levels of care than independent living options do, although residents still have greater freedom than those of nursing homes do.

Memory Care Center

Memory care is for people who have memory issues, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia. These services can be offered in an exclusive memory care center or a dementia ward in a larger assisted living community. This latter scenario allows couples with varying needs to live together in the same building, albeit in different wards.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are nursing homes. They offer around-the-clock medical care for their residents and offer both short-term and long-term care options. Many nursing homes offer semi-private, or shared, rooms. Couples may be able to secure one of these companion suites, but usually only if both people require the extra care SNFs offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assisted Living Cheaper for a Couple?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Depending on the community, it may not be cheaper for a couple to enter into residential care together. The reason is simple: the base care (at least) is doubled, which means pricing increases. Simply put, paying for two people to live in specialized senior housing is more expensive than only paying for one person.

Other locations may bundle costs together, with the facility only charging for the base room plus the level of care the spouse with greater personal care needs requires. This ultimately helps couples cut costs while ensuring they stay together.

Can a Couple Go Into Care Together?

Depending on each spouse’s individual needs and what’s offered in their area, yes, couples can go into senior care communities together. If the level of care between each spouse differs, they will need to look for a location that offers different senior living options (memory care, assisted living, independent living, etc.). If the level of care between the couple does not differ, they should search for a community that offers companion suites.

What Happens When Only One Parent Needs Assisted Living or Memory Care?

Having one aging parent require a higher level of care than the other can make the search for senior housing just a little trickier. In these cases, it might not be possible for the couple to live together anymore. Even if they can move to the same community, they might have to live in different wards.

That said, every retirement community is different. It’s important for families to specifically ask each community they’re interested in if it’s possible for the elderly couple to move in together, either in the same room or at least the same building.

Medicaid Spousal Protections

Finances cannot be ignored when moving into an eldercare facility. That said, senior healthcare costs, financial assistance programs, and more can become complicated quickly. One major source of concern and frustration for elderly couples is determining Medicaid eligibility.

For example, couples may worry about what happens to their financial assets and Medicaid eligibility when one spouse moves into a nursing care facility. There are certain spousal and dependent protections in place for married people on Medicaid under the program’s Spousal Impoverishment Standards. In other words, depending on location, married couples on Medicaid may be able to divide their assets or allot their income in such a way that the spouse who needs medical care can still qualify for Medicaid while the other spouse and their dependents can still protect some of their financial assets.

Finding Residential Care for Married Couples

Finding residential care for married couples can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. There are plenty of senior living options available that can cater to couples, even if they require different levels of care.

Moving a loved one into a senior living facility is difficult; moving older couples together is doubly so. We can’t make the process of moving an elderly couple easy, but we can lessen the burden just a little bit. Our directory shows thousands of senior living communities across the country that offer varying levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and more. By showing what services each community offers at a glance, it’s easy to narrow down the list of potential living arrangements for aging parents.