The Chaos of New York Real Estate: Not the Case for the State’s Seniors

Written by Sally Perkins

The infamous battleground of New York real estate is not lost on the rest of the nation, whether you hail from the affordable and inexpensive Midwest or from the equally ruthless Bay Area market. Affordable housing eludes millions of New Yorkers, with the average sale price of an apartment tipping over $2 million in 2016, and the average rental price in Manhattan up 91% than just ten years ago. But thankfully, for the home of the third-largest elderly population in the nation (2.6 million seniors aged 65+) assisted living facilities offer a welcome reprieve to the stressful tussle of the general real estate market.

Quick Facts About NYC Elder Living

  • Due to New York’s varied population density and large geographic area, the state has the largest range of elder care cost in the United States.
  • The average cost of assisted living in New York is $4100 a month, however it dips in many areas to the $3000-$3500 a month range.
  • The convenience and cost of assisted living far outweighs in-home care, with averages climbing as high as $25 an hour in some areas (and that’s not even round-the-clock, 24/7 availability care).
  • NYC assisted-living real estate rates do not trump nearby states, as it does in the general real estate market. In New Jersey, the average monthly cost for a senior living in an assisted living facility is $5725.
  • Unlike other states, approved assisted living residences offer a daily meal and snack service, 24-hour medical care and monitoring, personal counseling and social work services. Optional and (often included) services like housekeeping, group activities, medication assistance and recreational activities are common.
  • Online reviews from experts about the different assisted living residences in New York, make it easier to choose which facility is best for you or your family member.

 Payment Assistance

While the monthly sticker shock of an assisted living facility is less than that of an apartment in downtown Manhattan, the price tag is not insignificant. Thankfully, New York State’s Assisted Living Program pays for services in assisted living facilities who meet the required personal/financial qualifications. Those in the program require a very high level of care, equal to what is provided by certified nursing/care homes. This program provides needy qualifiers with a structured, hygienic, care-centered environment and also kicks back savings to the state government which saves on providing full-time nursing home care. The basics of the program include:

  • 85% of eligible participants are on Medicaid, although all who meet the requirements are welcome to apply.
  • Assisted living residences operating within the program are certified by the NY State Health Department, and are subject to frequent, unannounced checks.
  • This is a unique program in that it does not separate Medicaid/Non-Medicaid needy seniors. In this, the actual “assisted living” services (medication, mealtime help, etc.) are covered in conjunction with boarding costs.
  • The ALP caps at 4200 residents.

ALP Requirements

While this excellent program helps seniors find affordable, assisted living homes within their home state it is unfortunately not open for everyone. Requirements for ALP consideration include:

  • Medicaid recipients AND those with private insurance must have a medical need to be placed in an assisted living facility. (This is subject to medical record inspection along with doctor/patient sign-off forms.)
  • Recipients must NOT be completely bedridden, and must not pose a danger to those around them (including other ALP beneficiaries.)
  • Monthly income- must not exceed $825 for an individual and $1209 for a couple. However, applicants who receive a higher monthly sum may still qualify via the Medicaid Excess Income option.
  • Assets of applicants must not exceed $14,850 (single) or $21,750 (couples.) This does not include current residences, if they are owned and occupied by the applicant.

What If I don’t Qualify for the State/City-Run ALP?

If you’re a senior seeking out an assisted living facility as your next residence, cannot pay the monthly cost and do not qualify for Medicaid/privately-funded ALP eligibility, you are not forgotten. There are numerous non-profit local and national organizations that seek to increase affordability within elder care, as well as federal programs that were created to ease the burden. If you or your elderly loved one is a veteran, check with your local VA for veteran assisted living programs. If none of these are applicable, eldercare loans can be financed specifically for assisted living senior care.

With numerous financial options available, and reasonably priced statewide elder care assisted living facilities in NY, there are feasible options for the ever-increasing aging population. With daily services like housekeeping, social interaction, medical care, and round-the clock meal services, assisted living facilities are the reasonable solution for seniors looking for help while maintaining their independence.

Retirement Truths

Before you retire you will hear all kinds of stories of what it is like to live the life of a full time retiree. Whether it’s Uncle Bob sharing stories of how much the world has changed (typically for the worse) or Grandma Williams reliving those most special moments from past decades, words of wisdom are seldom lacking. Many describe initial struggles adapting to new roles as they leave behind full time employment. Most share their new found excitement discovering the joy of controlling how you spend your time. A few may explicitly outline what not to do if you hope for a fulfilling retirement experience. Everyone has a story and everyone has advice.

Living your own retirement is a very personal journey. You will be the one making important decisions along the way. Should there be a fork in the road you choose which path to follow.

I think it is helpful to begin your second act in a state of curious attentiveness. There is no way you can know all there is to know so why not approach retirement as an on-going education. Beware mistakes survived by others and be adaptable.

Over my past years of blogging about retirement numerous people have shared personal experiences as they navigate their own retirement jungle. Some relate wonderful tales while others find they have had to deal with more than their share of challenges. I believe a good way to maximize the positives in my own retirement is by listening to real life experiences of those who have gone before me.

Here are some words of wisdom shared by those strolling down the retirement road.

It’s not just about money

Nothing prepared me for all the emotional challenges after I retired. Looking back, the financial part was a piece of cake compared to structuring a life after retirement.

There are hundreds of websites, books, articles, and seminars focused on getting your financial house in order prior to retirement. Yes this is critically important but so is having a game plan for how you hope to live the next 10 to 20 or even 30 years.

As far as a healthy fiscal retirement, we nailed it by living within our means, no debt and making practical decisions. One thing to ponder is why we can’t “feel” the fiscal richness. I can see my net worth, and it gives us tremendous comfort, but we still love a bargain, vacation within reason, buy new but reasonably priced cars, only buy items on sale… etc. you get it. But we will never spend it all, and especially because who wants to pay all those taxes?

After a lifetime of saving and doing without it can be difficult to allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Frugality is wise but don’t let too much of a good thing cause you to do without the well-deserved pleasures retirement affords you.

Adjusting to retirement can take time

It took me about two years to settle in, i.e. lack of purpose, I felt like a disposable human by my profession and my kids… My wonderful husband helped me to see my value.

Becoming comfortable in your new life as a retiree is not something you should rush. Take time to test the waters. Don’t feel pressured to conform to anyone’s time frame but yours. Finding the way to your individual retirement happiness is a journey well worth the effort and patience required along the way.

Don’t wait too long to pursue your dreams

I am so glad that through all my adult years I never said no to doing exciting things and enjoying the experiences that came my way. So many people put off doing until they are retired, and so many never get to do their dreams.

Retirement is a wonderful time to do all those things you never had time to. But don’t wait too long. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected surprises into the mix. Do those most important things while you still can.

It is up to each of us to find ways to stay engaged

I’m adequately prepared for retirement financially. I’ve just turned 66 and still enjoy my work.  I like being busy and enjoy the social interaction. The big uncertainty for me is what will I do to fill my days.                      

I have been retired for one year and need some guidance on how to put passion into my retirement life’s goals and dreams. I’m floundering and didn’t realize I needed to plan for my new acquired uncommitted time.

Many spend more time planning for a two week vacation than planning for retirement. If you hope to get the most of your second act get ready ahead of time. Plan and prepare. Don’t waste that free time so dreamed of by those still chained to the work wheel. This is your chance to explore your passions, try new things, take chances, and expand your interests.

The future looks bright

Marriage, children, grandkids, career, have all given life meaning, purpose, sorrow and immense joy along the way. As I reflect back, all was in preparation for the best adventure to come…retirement.

I love being retired. I continue to learn and make adjustments. I don’t expect to get everything right but am hopeful I will get more right than not. Days are filled with opportunity, some uncertainty, optimism, and great expectations.

It is a wonderful journey…and that’s the truth.

LoveBeingRetired.com