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

Aging In Place Design – Not Just For Seniors

Written by Alex Deckard, Aeroflow Healthcare

As you gather with friends and family for the holidays, where do you picture your loved ones celebrating together? Most people would say that their home is their gathering place of choice. Rituals, memories, and people all turn a house into a home. As we spend years creating a home, nobody wants to move away for reasons outside their control.

America has an aging population with an increasing life expectancy. Last year, there were over 108 million Americans over the age of 50 and this number expected to grow another 10 million by 2020. In fact, the first human to live to 150 has (probably) already been born! Most people want to live in their own home for as long as possible. Nearly 90% of people over age 65 want to stay in their current home for as long as possible, and 80% believe their current residence is where they will always live. As we age, we will all need a little help.

Aging in Place Design

Aeroflow Healthcare offers a wide range of products that can help people live in their home safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age or ability level. It would be heartbreaking to have the resources on hand that facilitate independence with a home that can’t accommodate installation. Wheelchairs, bathroom safety devices like grab bars, patient room furniture, and oxygen tanks all have specific dimensions that need to be accommodated for when designing a home. So, what can you do today to prepare your home so you can age gracefully in it?

Cost Benefits of Thoughtful Home Design

A new construction or home remodel can be expensive, but assisted living isn’t cheap either. The median monthly assisted living costs could range from $2,288 in Missouri to nearly $6,000 in New Jersey. If you live 15 years longer in an assisted living community in Missouri, it will cost over $400,000.

Replacing handles and door knobs, adding grab bars and railings, and expanding door frames are some affordable projects to tackle in the beginning stages of the design. Some simple redecoration can help begin the process, as well. Removing trip hazards such as power cords or rugs can be a small step that encourages safety. As you age and your health needs change, Aeroflow can help by offering quality home healthcare products through insurance such as portable oxygen, home and bathroom safety devicescatheters, and more.

aging-in-place-designs

Advice from the Experts

We asked Aging in Place specialists Sean and Laura Sullivan to explain how a home can be designed with considerations to accommodate residents and their needs as they age. Sean and Laura are a husband and wife design team who are both accredited aging in place specialists, and together they create beautiful green homes. Sean is the President and accredited Master Builder of Living Stone, and Laura is the owner and lead interior design for ID.ology Interior Design. We asked them a few questions to better understand how aging in place design can benefit people of all ages.

What exactly is Aging in Place? Aging In Place is the ability for one to live in their home comfortably, safely, and as easily as possible for as long as possible. Building and designing in regard to Aging in Place (for new construction or renovation) means that different construction details or elements are considered in the design phase to ensure the home is suitable for the needs of individuals aging in their home as independently as possible. If a caretaker needs to be brought in, the home lends to their needs as well.

What are some examples of aging in place design? Some Aging in Place design elements would be the inclusion of wider hallways and doorways, sufficient lighting that can adjust to aging eyes, handles and grab bars selected for ease of use, and cabinet and appliance placement planned for limited mobility use. A curbless shower makes it easy for anyone and the extra lighting helps aging eyes.

How can these design elements help a person live in their home? If someone happened to use a walker or wheelchair, the home would be designed with larger spaces to allow the individual to move through the home safely and use each space without barriers. These inclusions can allow someone to stay in the comfort of their own home and avoid moving into an assisted living facility.

What rooms might require more attention than others? The main level of the home, including the master suite and kitchen.

At what age should a person consider aging in place renovation? Considering Aging in Place design is important for individuals of all ages. Aging in Place is not only for seniors or individuals with limited mobility or physical abilities— it makes living in a home easier and more comfortable for ALL ages and ability levels. Also, a young couple could have their aging parents come live with them or a loved one could break a bone and become temporarily in need of Aging in Place elements.

Are there certain home furnishings that are more aging in place friendly?  Yes, not only do we consider the physical abilities or needs of individuals, but also their health. Some characteristics of furniture used for Aging in Place homes to be considered would be the seat height and depth, the angle and ergonomics of the backs, weight, arms structure, firmness, and also whether the products are made with healthy components that do not harm the individual’s health.

Are there any stipulations for aging in place when one has a pet? Considerations of amenities for caring for one’s pet could be such things as bathing stations at appropriate heights, feeding stations also at appropriate heights for both the owner and the pet, and easy access to a fenced yard or kennel.

Why is “green” so important for a healthy home and how does Living Stone do “green” differently? Environmentally conscious design is important for many reasons, but the primary reason for us is the health and wellbeing of our clients. Building green protects the environment, supports local business, uses recycled or recyclable content, uses sustainable resources and utilizes energy resources efficiently. When applied in an above standard manner as Living Stone does, it benefits the health of the homeowner.

Indoor air quality is the missing ingredient in Green Building and that is the real reason many people don’t see the value in paying for “green” materials. However, when you consider that homes are being built with often inadequate ventilation systems, you can actually be causing damage to your health. According to the EPA, we spend up to 90% of our time indoors. Our indoor environment can be more toxic when we fill our homes with products with VOC’s, which are present in everything from cleaning equipment to building materials such as glue, paint, varnishes, and wood preservatives. VOC’s are emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids and can have adverse effects on your health.

A green home is more than just an energy efficient home. It’s a home that prioritizes your health and wellbeing.

If someone is considering a remodel or new construction that includes Aging in Place, what should they look for in a contractor/builder/interior designer? We are both Certified Aging In Place Specialists as well as Certified Green Professionals, which gives us a more astute awareness and focus on the indoor air quality for our clients’ health.

What are some “outliers” in the design process that most people don’t know about? Any interesting/strange techniques to make a home more comfortable for aging? Most individuals overlook or underestimate the importance and value of space planning during the design phase of a renovation or new construction. Bringing in a professional service like those we offer at Living Stone and ID.ology give our clients the best approach possible when designing a home.