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As 2020 begins, people should look for ways to save money or research options for health care and housing.

With how quickly costs and health conditions can change, Schonda Grays, executive director at Rose Senior Living in Beachwood, which is scheduled to open in April, and Nicole D. Paolozzi, founder and CEO of Ondecare in Chagrin Falls, said families should weigh the pros and cons every year.

“The new year brings about new beginnings and fresh starts for most everyone,” Grays said. “For older people, it’s a great time to asses the cost versus benefits of home ownership. Maybe this is the year to say goodbye to the hassles of owning a home, like snow removal, high heating costs and routine repairs.”

Though every situation is different, Grays said it makes sense for people to take stock of where they stand.

“Generally, most people start considering senior communities when they retire and/or want to downsize, and want to begin enjoying their retirement,” she explained. “People who move into senior communities often say they wished they had done it sooner. There are lots of misconceptions about senior communities, and we encourage people to stop by and take a look for themselves.”

But seniors aren’t the only ones that should be looking into care options, Paolozzi said.

“Most adults should be talking with their spouses about their long-term wishes and considering long-term care insurance and/or a rider on a whole new life insurance plan that pays for long-term care without diluting the insurance policy,” she said. “This rider is something new and something I am considering for myself in 2020. Getting this kind of insurance early makes it more affordable – the older you are, the more expensive it gets.”

Paolozzi said times are changing fast, so it is important for people to review their options every year.

“Long-term care facilities are being built everywhere, but it is my understanding that if long-term care facility operators build four times the buildings they have now, there would still not be enough rooms for our aging population,” she said. “But, the facilities are not the only option. Today, there are many ways to age in place for as long as possible. Being reasonable about what you can do and cannot do and planning for help is key.”

If people aren’t reviewing the information regularly, the professionals said disaster can strike in situations of quick decisions.

“You get stuck and are forced to make quick, uncomfortable decisions,” Paolozzi said. “This is what happened to my in-laws. None of us wanted to face the next phase, so when it hit us, it was rushed, scary and sad for all. There was no understanding of what they wanted or could afford. We were not prepared and reactively made decisions rather than proactively.”

Grays said, “Seniors could also not be aware or understand the options they have available in senior living. Senior living communities consist of people who want to enjoy retirement to the fullest.”

Family members also play an important role in the process, Gray said.

“Family members often do a lot of initial research and touring for their loved ones,” she stated. “They bring back the information and review each community as a family. Then, they may set up the tours of the top choices. Moving is a challenge at any age, so having family support can help to alleviate some of the anxiety.”

Additionally, Paolozzi said family members also need to be clear and supportive of each other.

“Family members need to be frank with each other and share their collective support options/ideas to their parents often, reassuring them that they are not alone,” she explained. “There are many ways to help your loved one’s age in place for as long as possible.”

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