For years or even decades, you may have known in the back of your mind that you would one day need to make housing and care decisions for a loved one. However, you may have given little thought to the options available or how the related expenses would be paid. Now that your aging loved one needs daily assistance and care, you may be faced with the need to make tough decisions. While you need to decide which care option is best for your loved one, you also need to focus on the financial aspect of this important decision.

Assess Your Loved One’s Needs and Abilities
One of the first things that you should do before researching care options or thinking about the cost of needed services is to learn more about your loved one’s current needs and abilities. Spend a few days observing him or her in the privacy and comfort of their home. Pay attention to which activities they struggle with or that may be unsafe for them to do on their own. Determine if you can make adjustments to the home, such as by adding rails in the bathroom, to improve safety. Then, think about whether part-time at-home care would suffice or if your loved one needs more significant supervision and assistance.

Explore Care Options
Your next task is to begin exploring the care options available. There are many home care service providers that you can reach out to, but the home care packages offered varies substantially. While you need to find a care solution that meets your loved one’s current needs, you also need to find a service provider that offers additional services. This is because needs can change over the years. It is easier to adjust service with an existing provider than to change service providers altogether. If you need to find a care center, be sure to review satisfaction ratings and to visit each center personally. It may help to visit the center at different times of the day and even without an appointment so that you can see what the environment is truly like.

Analyze the Financial Situation
You may now have a better idea about what type of care your loved one needs and about the different costs of services. The financial aspect of your decision now requires attention. Your loved one may receive a regular Social Security check, and this can be used to pay for some of the care. Additional financial support may come from a long-term care plan that he or she purchased or from a government-funded insurance program. Your loved one may have other assets that can be drawn from as well. After all sources have been exhausted, you can then consider if you or other children of the loved on have the financial means to contribute regularly. Each person has a unique financial situation, so it may not be reasonable to expect everyone to contribute an equivalent amount of money.

Remember that the needs of an elderly person can change very slowly over time in some cases, but there may be times when needs change dramatically within a few weeks or less. You should be observant of the individual’s needs going forward so that you can continue to properly care for him or her.