Oasis Senior Advisors Austin and Central Texas has been helping families navigate senior care and senior living options since 2016. The free service helps connect Central Texans to the best forms of care and housing based on their needs, said John Brown, certified senior advisor and CEO of Oasis Senior Advisors Austin and Central Texas.

Brown spoke with Community Impact about what families should know when considering full-time care for their loved ones.

When might families want to consider full-time care for their loved ones?

There's a couple of indicators—No. 1, if a person is cognitively impaired with Alzheimer's or dementia. Somebody who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's, or any kind of form of dementia, you need to start having a plan pretty quickly. When it comes to incontinence care, transferring, things like that that can't be scheduled, that's at the point you need to start considering higher levels of care. They're not able to get out of bed. They're not able to walk. Somebody has to lift them, or they need standby assist to do any kind of transferring. If they are starting to have mobility issues or a fall risk, then at that point you've got to consider 24 hours a day.

What are some factors family should take into account when deciding which type of care to pursue?

You have to kind of look at everything from the top down. What is their diagnosis? Most importantly, what is their financial situation? How is their mobility? What does their overall care look like? What are the finances? It’s got to be a whole approach. There's great communities. They give a lot of great care, but their job is to sell their building. Our job is to make sure you get the care that's right for you. If you start needing care, it gets quite expensive quite quickly, and so that's why you should always have a plan.

What are some financing options for families looking to put their loved ones in full-time care?

There's [Veterans Affairs] Aid and Attendance, which helps veterans. There's long-term care insurance. Depending on the scenario, there could be a reverse mortgage if one spouse is staying in the home, but the other spouse is going into care. A lot of times it's the home and whatever they have in their retirement. For those people who don't have the income, Medicaid would be an option. There are two senior living options under Medicaid, but you have to meet medical necessity and financial necessity to qualify for those.

What are some alternatives families might want to consider before committing to full-time care?

It just depends on their care. Maybe it is just meals, and [medicine] reminders and standby assist for bathing. Maybe it can be done in independent living with a little bit of help. If they do have a little bit of mobility issues, then we might want to look at assisted living. But if there's somebody who can't get out of the building on their own, then at that point, it's either bringing in much more care into the home, or it's time to look at a higher level of assisted living.

Do you have any additional advice for families?

Unfortunately, a lot of families don't ever look at the financial aspects of their decisions. They have to have a plan, to have a budget. They have to know where that number they can't cross is. It's just figuring out what that number is that you can afford, and then from that point, when to draw that line. Then it's time to look at something else.