Dealing With the Rising Costs of Assisted Living

Sooner or later, if we live long enough, chances are we may need some sort of assisted care. Many seniors live in assisted care communities or facilities, where they can get the kind of medical care and assistance with daily living that they need. This would all be well and good if the cost of assisted living wasn’t rising at an exorbitant rate every year. The numbers are staggering, putting the price of assisted living firmly out of reach for many seniors and the families that want to provide the very best living situation for their elderly loved ones.

Consider the following facts:

• A 2013 Cost of Care Survey revealed that the cost of Assisted Living rose 4.55% since 2012; the largest rate of increase among all categories of senior care in that time period
• A 2013 report by Genworth Financial put the median cost of a private room in a residential assisted living facility in 2013 at $230 a day, a 3.6% increase over 2012.
• Those living in residential assisted living facilities can expect a 3-5% annual rate increase in their base rate

These numbers are staggering, and there appears to be no end to these increases in sight. When you stop to consider that some 10,000 citizens will retire each day for the next 19 years, the issue is one that is literally crying out for solutions. Politicians and lawmakers, both at the state and federal level, are looking at the issues, but the red tape and special interests that mark these proceedings promise that any potential answers aren’t forthcoming in the short term. So what are seniors and their families to do?

Depending on the level of care needed, seeking in-home help in the form of a nurse or senior companion to help with minor medical issues and day-to-day activities is a much more affordable option. Many seniors are living at home (either theirs or the home of a loved one) longer out of necessity, and licensed home health aides can help to make this scenario run much more smoothly.

In the meantime, we can only hope that as a society the concept of assisted living is not one that, due to finances, will someday be cost prohibitive to all but the very richest among us. With these costs it is better recommended to find a better alternative. These issues would truly be doing seniors and their families a disservice that they simply do not deserve.

The Cremation Process – An Affordable Solution to the Rising Costs of Funerals

Many people today are choosing cremation services over traditional funeral and burials. Knowing the cremation process and what needs to be done before and after the cremation will actually help you decide if this is the choice either for yourself if you’re pre-planning your own affairs, or for a loved one who has recently passed away.

There are quite a few reasons why cremation may not only make sense, but why it may be a necessary choice over a traditional burial.

Cremation cost compared to traditional funeral expenses is oftentimes a major factor in the decision to cremate, particularly with the rising costs of a full traditional funeral and burial where the deceased had no insurance to help defray the costs. In this instance, the cremation process may be easier to pay for.

The decision may also come from how the loved one died. If the deceased met with an unfortunate end due to a fatal accident, the body may not be suitable for public viewing; even by the closest immediate family, it just may be too traumatic, and the funeral home may suggest cremation in this instance.

Sometimes it’s just an emotional choice made by deceased prior to their death. Or possibly the deceased and their family just want services to be as small and private as possible and have decided that a memorial service later after the cremation is in perfect order.

Direct Cremation versus Traditional or Classic Cremation

Many families still choose to have a traditional viewing and funeral service prior to the deceased being cremated. In this case, the body will be embalmed and prepared for the viewing and will be cremated afterward.

If the family has chosen direct cremation, however, the body is obviously not going to be handled the same way as if it was going to be laid out for a public viewing and it’s important that people know this ahead of time.

If the family wants a private viewing of the deceased prior to the cremation process, they must be aware that the body has not been embalmed or made up and will be in the same state as when it left the morgue.

Whatever the reasons behind the decision to cremate the deceased, it’s best to know the process of the cremation ahead of time.

The Cremation Process

After the body has been taken to the morgue, possibly for an autopsy or to await positive identification from a loved one, and has been prepared to move, the body can be taken either to a funeral home that has a crematory or directly to a crematory that handles only cremations and nothing else.

It is important that during the final viewing of the body that all non-organic implements such as pacemakers, dental work, jewelry and the like be removed from the body. It is also important that the funeral directory or crematory director is told of any implants such as knee or hip replacements or any other types of metal inside the body that need to be removed.

Many of these things may be found during an autopsy but if an autopsy isn’t being performed, it’s crucial that anything on or in the body that isn’t able to be burned is removed prior to the cremation.

The crematorium has a large incinerator where the body will placed inside and at temperatures of 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size of the body, will be burned down to ashes.

Some larger bones will actually not be able to be reduced to ashes even at these temperatures. Those fragments will be pulverized using another machine and added back to the rest of the ashes.

After the Cremation

Typically the cremation services will include placing the ashes in a standard box of either cardboard or plastic.

You can either place the ashes into another urn or take them to scatter in a place that was chosen either by the deceased or in a special place.

Families who choose to keep the cremains often purchase special decorative memorial urns and have them set out at a memorial service.

And if you purchase an urn prior to the cremation process, the ashes can be placed directly into that urn and not have to be disturbed later on.