Redirecting the Path to Affordable Senior Living and Assisted Care

assisted living

 

The forecast for the future of affordable senior living and assisted living is sure to be analyzed and dissected greater than any sub-market meteorologist.

The LeadingAge Annual Meeting & Expo in New Orleans, billed as the largest annual gathering of aging services providers in the country, is sure to have lively discussions on the direction of providing affordable, quality senior living and care services. The path, according to industry experts, has more twists and turns because people are living longer and have less in savings while public subsidies are getting more difficult to maneuver.

Long-term service and support system needs mending

LeadingAge believes the country’s long-term service and support system is broken, saddled with inadequate funding, coordination and choice. The system places pressures on shrinking families to care for their elders, potentially leaving older adults disconnected and depressed.

“Most alarming,” LeadingAge said in a report on the subject released in August, “the system is ill-prepared to meet the needs of a rapidly growing older population.”

In “New Vision for Long-Term Services and Supports,” LeadingAge proposes a fairer, more rational financing system to ensure access to quality long-term services and supports for everyone who needs them. One idea is a mandatory universal approach to coverage that would spread risk over a large population, thus lowering expenses for individuals and increasing overall funding for long-term support and services.

LeadingAge is pinpointing the big challenge that aging Americans and the providers who look out after them will face in the years to come. Many older adults haven’t saved enough for their long-term care and don’t always have family or friends who can assist. For affordable senior living and assisted care providers, navigating federal housing and assistance subsidies that aid the elderly can be rocky and fraught with compliance issues.

Providers need to be prepared for the evolving older demographic

Gustavo Sapiurka, Senior VP of RealPage’s OneSite property management solution, recently told Senior Housing Forum that the future of affordable senior living and assisted care is shaping up to be a “perfect storm.”

Sapiurka says providers need to be prepared for the changing conditions because Americans are living longer, have shrinking income, marginal savings and fewer family members to lean on. On top of that, Medicaid isn’t providing the punch that elderly who fall into these situations need.

Census figures suggest that Baby Boomers will continue to dominate generational populations as Americans continue to live longer – 80-plus is very reachable these days. Combine that with incomes for the 50-64 set that drop from an annual average of $60,000 to $25,000 after age 85, and you have older Americans who have far fewer resources.

Mix in the fact that Americans aren’t good at saving for retirement. According to a GoBankingRates survey reported by Time.com in March 2016, more than one-third of all working-age adults have very little to none in retirement savings.

When asked how much money they had in savings, 56 percent of Americans had saved less than $10,000. Of men and women over age 55, 45 percent have saved less than $10,000. Only 28 percent have more than $200,000.

And families are getting smaller. Since the 70s, the ideal American family size has dropped from four kids to two. A big reason is that large families cost money.

A public/private partnership and the right solution can make a difference

Sapiurka says RealPage is working on solutions and approaches for its customers to find their way as conditions and approvals may change.

A potential approach a is a hybrid funding plan with HUD and/or the Internal Revenue Service that provides subsidies or tax credits for rent-related expenses in affordable senior living communities while  Medicaid provides for the cost on the assisted care side.

“It’s a holistic approach of looking into the future and looking at ways or solutions to handle all the requirements of subsidized affordable housing for our seniors programs’ needs and at same time be able to manage the needs of units that are on the assisted care side or the services,” said Sapiurka, who plans to attend the LeadingAge conference. “You have to be able to provide a holistic platform for both sides. We think there is a need for thinking outside the box to provide approaches that address the major challenges facing our elderly population.”

Using the best resources to your advantage

Sapiurka says housing providers need to find the sweet spot where affordable senior housing with affordable assisted living can work together as the country’s population continues to age. One thing that needs to be addressed is providing medication and care services support.

“The dynamics of affordable senior living and assisted care are changing because the American household is taken on a new direction,” Sapiurka said. “As Americans live longer, that alters the way we approach the future. There is a lot to talk about.”

You can bet it will happen in the Crescent City.

 


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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