I Have Fallen and Need Some Help

6 Ways to Help Afford Senior Living

June 19, 2023 Erin Thompson Episode 20
I Have Fallen and Need Some Help
6 Ways to Help Afford Senior Living
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered how do people afford to stay in an Assisted Living community?? Guess what this podcast is for you!!

I have broken down the 6 ways people afford to live long term in the senior living community. You or your loved one may be eligible for some of these benefits too!

I hope you enjoy the information and share it with people that you know can use the advice. And if you have a few extra minutes write us a review. I would really appreciate it!

You can connect with me at www.aspireformorewitherin.com

You can join my email list here.

You can schedule a call for us to connect about your caregiving journey here.

Hi, and welcome to another episode of the I Have Fallen and a Need Some Help podcast today. We're going to go over how to afford senior living. I guess more importantly, assisted living and memory care. we can get a little bit into skilled nursing, but that's not necessarily my area of expertise and independent living is pretty much private pay. So there are no options for independent living beside what you have in the bank. So. We're going to dive in to all the different areas. Of how can a family make assisted living and memory care? Affordable. Let's go. So many of you know, that I have worked inside of assisted living for 20 years, I started as a concierge, then worked my way up the ladder to become the executive director. It's important to note that I also have had my grandmother and my grandmother-in-law live in the communities that I've worked in. And so I've been able to walk through the professional and the personal side of affording and planning. And not being able to afford the community. So I have a real unique experience and I love to be able to offer that to my listeners. So I'm excited to do that. One of the best pieces of advice that I've given anybody that I can. And even myself in many different ways in life is you have to take the big picture and cut it down into smaller bite size pieces. Because most people would come to me and I say, I don't have enough money for 10 years. If my loved one lives here for 10 years. Well, the odds of your loved one living here for 10 years are low because the average length of stay is 18 to 22 months. So that relieves the pressure a little bit right there. Right? You only have to know what the first 18 months to 22 months looks like. That's it. Now after that, maybe there's a little bit of anxiety. Maybe there's a little bit of fear. And that's okay. But we focus on what we can control, which is the 18 month to 22 month window. Because listen to me, anything can happen to any one of us. Any day. So, if we worry about 5, 7, 10 years, we may lose the ability to change someone's life for two years. And that is more important, or even cut that down to three months or six months. Because there's a lot of these myths. That says my loved one doesn't want to move into a nursing home, my loved one doesn't want to move into an assisted living. But I want to tell you what I hear most. I wish I would've done this sooner. And that's a personal story that I can tell you that I wish that we would have done sooner for my grandmother. But the last two years of her life were forever changed and therefore mine was. Because she was taken care of because I wasn't having to worry about her. And I didn't feel so bad that I didn't have the time. As a parent to two small children to get to her whenever she wanted me to. Instead, I got to see her every day because she lived at the community that I worked in. Oh, so let's talk about the ways that people afford senior living and there are five different avenues to look at when you are at the point where you are looking to need to move into senior living. So the first one is liquid assets. It is just all the assets in total that your loved one has. A house, a car retirement accounts. Anything that has money in it. That is an asset, right? Most people use that money. Most people don't want to use that money. The residents don't want to use that money. The family members don't want to use that money. Because it's sacred. There's so many blue collar people who saved their money and blood, sweat, and tears. They're so proud of that money. That have to use it for senior living. But thank God they have it, right. I mean, like that's what we save for. We save for the rainy day. And so if we don't use it for the rainy day, What are we doing with it? We can't take it with us. And yes, who wouldn't love to have money left to us. That is true. But at what cost. Would that money come to you at. And that is what we have to ask ourselves. What is the best case scenario for everyone involved? My grandmother, for instance. There was one time where she probably did have a little bit of money in the bank, but she decided that she was going to give money away. And by give money away. She didn't have money at the end when she needed it. That's not a good place to be. So my advice is to tell their loved ones to keep their money, because you never know when they're going to need it. Living in senior living is expensive. It is no one can say that it's not some states have Medicaid waivers. We'll get to that. But most of the time it's expensive. So if you do not have VA aid and attendance benefit that you're able to get, or you do not have long-term care insurance. And your state does not have a Medicaid waiver Then private pay is your option. You never know when or if you will need senior living. So just plan accordingly, you know, that the average month stay is 18 months to 22 months. The average amount is about$3200 to$3,500 a month. Some are less, some are more memory care is more assisted living is less. It's just an average right across the country. So keep those numbers in mind. And if you have to sell the house, Be thankful that you have a house to sell. Because what else would you be doing? Because if you can't be responsible for your loved one's care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Who is, and the one-on-one care that they would get in their home is a lot more expensive than living in senior living. And it's a lot more labor intensive for you as a caregiver. Just know liquid assets are the way that pretty much everybody pays for assisted living and memory care. And selling them and using the assets are hard. It's just hard. I get it. But thank God you have it. Right. Just kind of reframing that mindset is important. The next. asset that most people will turn to and figure out if they have is the long-term care insurance policy. Now long-term care insurance is a separate policy from health insurance and home insurance. It is literally a policy that is dedicated to pay for long-term care, which can be assisted living, memory care, nursing home, which would be skilled nursing. And also private duty sitters. Every policy is different. And so you have to read the policy that your loved one bought. Your policy potentially will pay for in-home sitters. Which is a great thing to have, you would have to pay a company that has a business license to operate. It cannot be somebody off the street or a family member that you know. They want to see the business license of the company that you're using. And they will also pay for assisted living and or memory care. I have seen where they don't want to pay the claim. If I'm honest with you. What insurance company wants to pay the claim. so there are some hoops to step through to try to get the claim. There are typically around five activities of daily living that they're going to want you to say, yes, I need care from two of them. One of the most important things for you to understand as a policy holder or a loved one of someone who holds a policy is that when they come out to assess your loved one or yourself, You don't want to pass the test. This test needs to be very vulnerable. Very authentic and to say, yes, I need the help. I need the help with transferring to go to in from the bathroom. I need the help in having assistance in and out of the shower. I need the the medication administration help. So I can remember to take my medicine. That is what gets you the money that you paid for? Now, of course, if it's not true, you don't want to say that you need it. But on your bad days. Or on their bad days. Do they need that help? Yes. If the answer is yes. Then at the time of the assessment, the answer needs to be yes. I have sat in on so many of these long-term care insurance assessments that I realize that the person who is being assessed. Wants to tell them that they don't need any help. But that's crazy because they do need help because they are in assisted living or they're looking to move into assisted living. Memory care is a little bit easier to get approved because clearly if you need memory care, you need the general oversight of your ADL's, which is your activities of daily living. So it's assisted living that gets a little bit trickier to try to get the policy, to approve the payment. One of the other things to remember about a long-term care insurance policy is that there is a waiting window. So it could be 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 100 days. Where the family will have to cover the costs until the long-term care insurance kicks in. Long-term care insurance is typically pay in the rears. So if the rent is due at the first of the month to the assisted living community, you're not going to get paid for the month of January on January 1st. You're going to get paid for that in February. So until you get the checks kind of coming in consistently, the family will be fronting the payment to the assisted living community until the checks start coming in. And then when the need isn't there anymore, you should still have a check waiting, to, because it's payment in the rears for the previous month. That's really one of the most difficult things to grasp. You still have to pay up front in order to get the care you need from the assisted living. And typically most assisted livings do not want the check coming directly from the long-term care insurance company to the assisted living. So that check is going to come to you. Or that check is going to come to the resident. One of the things that I've seen when that check does come to the bank account of a resident and the resident is responsible for their money. And if there's even the little bit of dementia, They can forget that they paid that bill. So it's important to have a little bit of oversight to the resident's account. even though you want to give them privacy and empower them to continue to do what they need. I just want to tell you. That there is so much danger on the internet. For adults with dementia or any type of cognitive impairment. Having general oversight of their account is very important specifically if we have long-term care insurance, because that money is paid in the rears. I have seen where people spend that money. When they actually needed that money, they forget that it was already spent out of their account. So. Just word for the wise. A little bit of oversight. It's very, very important. Know the daily rate and how much your total benefit is. So the daily rate is calculated. In the assisted living world as the monthly rent. Right, which can be$3,000 times, 12 months. Divided by 365. Okay. So. It's important to know. What your daily rate is for the long-term care insurance policy benefit. And then actually what the daily rate is. For the assisted living or memory care that you choose. And just a reminder that long-term care insurance will potentially pay a daily rate for sitters as well. That's long-term care insurance. I feel like that's everything that I believe you should know. Activities of daily living are bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming, and eating. Medication management can be thrown in there. They need to have two of those. Actually needing assistance, not total care, but just assistance. There's a waiting period, 30, 60, 90, 100 days. And the payments from the policy are paid in the rears. That is long-term care insurance. VA aid and attendance is another way for them to get money for assisted living or memory care, or even skilled nursing. And this is something that I truly am very passionate about because this is a pension from the government. This is a benefit, yes, but it is a pension. So they deserve this. They earned this. And what's even better about it is that it's for the resident. For the veteran themselves and or the spouse. Knowing that the spouse can get this benefit It's so valuable to me. Who is eligible for this VA aid and attendance pension, a veteran and or spouse is potentially eligible for this pension. And the veteran must have served 90 days active duty. With only one day being during war time, just one day. The physician must declare that they need the assistance. And then they're going to look back financially for the last three years. So this is a new process for them. I think this changed really in the last three to five years, where there used to not be a look back there used to be a financial stipulation, but not a look back. So now what we have, if you're an elderly person, And you're looking at how you're going to afford. Getting old, right. Needing care. What we need to understand is that we have a, three-year look back for the veterans aid and attendance pension, and you have a five-year look back for Medicaid. Which is why it's very important to plan for your financial needs earlier, rather than later. And that's where a trust comes in. In one of my previous episodes I discussed trusts with a lawyer who creates trusts and how to actually to protect your assets. And protect them from Medicaid and the VA when they want to look back at your assets. So go back to that episode and listen to that. There are ways to protect your assets and still qualify for things like the VA aid and attendance pension and Medicaid. So the VA aid and attendance are going to look back three years. So how you spend your parents, your loved ones, your money is very important. If you're going to give a bunch of money away as gifts. That is going to be a problem. So get in touch with lawyer and plan accordingly. But benefits are available for home care, assisted living and nursing home. And what's different about the pension with the VA versus the long-term care insurance. Is that family members can charge for their services and the VA will reimburse you. Which is great. Whereas long-term care insurance wants you to use a business. The VA pension will cover a caregiver for my family charging for their services because Hey, all of our time is valuable. Right? I was the primary caregiver for my grandmother. If she would have been eligible for this pension, I would have gotten into her like that. And I would have charged for my services. Because My time is worth it. If the lady down the street can come in and care for my grandmother and get paid. Why can't I I'm the one that loves her and I would definitely care for her very differently. And so I tell family members all the time, create a spreadsheet of your hours you believe your worth your time is worth$15 an hour is below average for in-home care. You're looking at, from a business you're looking at anywhere between 18 to$25 an hour to get personal care sitter inside someone's home. So take that, write it down. So they show that they are paying for their care. It's a very important piece, very critical piece in getting this pension. So what is the amount that they can get? I think it's a big impact for anyone. So a single veteran monthly benefit is$2,050 per month. That's per month. A married veteran monthly benefit is$2,431 per month. A healthy veteran with an unhealthy spouse monthly benefit is$1,610. And then the surviving spouse, monthly benefit is$1,318. All big assets for a family to receive, to care for their loved one and to pay for assisted living and memory care. And remember 90 days active duty with only one day being during war time. So it's not like they have to be an active combat. It's not like they had to retire from the military. It is 90 days active duty. One day. Being during war time. So it's very reasonable for a lot more people than what they think it is. So the important piece here is that you need certain documents. You're going to need the DD214, which is the discharge paperwork. And dishonorable discharges do not get this benefit. But if you do have an honorable discharge paperwork, which is your DD214, you're going to need your marriage certificate and a death certificate. If they apply. So the first step before doing anything is knowing where those documents are, getting them together and then making appointment with the VA. Or calling people who help, people apply for this benefit. You can go directly to the VA office in your city to get this forms, you can go online and search for the VA aid and attendance benefit and get those forms. But this is a process. You need to understand this. This is a process. This is not coming immediately, which we all know that things with the government do not come immediately. But it is retroactive from the day that you apply. So let's say that you apply in June of 2023, and you may not get your first payment until December. That check will be retroactive. from the month of June to December. Your check, your first check will be a bigger check. And so that's important. I feel most passionate about this benefit because I feel as if they served, they earned, they sacrificed. Go get the benefit. Okay. Go get it. Our next topic is Medicaid and Medicaid waivers I work my career in Alabama. So I don't deal with Medicaid or Medicaid waivers. So this is a new concept for me, but I have done some research to help other people. Know, that one of the important things for you to do if you were thinking about moving your loved one from state to state, is that every state is different. So you don't want to move your loved one who is in the assisted living or memory care in a state that has Medicaid waivers and they are using a Medicaid waiver out of state into a state that does not use Medicaid waivers. That would be a worst case scenario. Okay. There are four states that do not include any type of Medicaid support for assisted living. And those states are Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia. So I know for a fact, that those four states have nothing, no kind of Medicaid waivers to offer. Most other states offer a form of support defined as waivers. And these are usually capped and have wait lists. So it's not guaranteed and not every community is a Medicaid waiver supported community. So it's important to review your state offerings and they could be based on counties or offered statewide. And the representatives at the communities that you are touring should be able to help you. And it's very rare if not even a possibility that Medicaid pays for assisted living 100% in its entirety. Medicaid is for nursing home stays skilled nursing stays. For people who have$2,000 or less in assets. So you're not going to find medicaid paying for a non skilled senior living community. Like assisted living or memory care. A skilled nursing, which is a nursing home or a longterm care community. Is skilled. They have nurses 24 hours a day. They have cares, activities of daily living that require a skilled element that assisted living and memory care do not. One of the new, newer ways that I realized was an excellent way to pay for senior living assisted living or memory care, which I, again, I don't know all the details about, but it's important to note is a whole life insurance policy. I do not know much about whole life insurance. I do not have a whole life insurance policy. most financial gurus that I listen to say to stay away from whole life i Insurance policies but for the people who have whole life insurance policies and need senior living guess what You can cash out a whole life insurance policy I've seen it, I've witnessed it, and i have watched the family use a whole life insurance policy to pay for their loved one's stay inside the senior living. I haven't seen it often I didn't even know it existed until recently and what a great benefit that was for the family The resident didn't have any assets did get the VA aid and attendance pension after we talked about that with the family and then was able to use a whole life insurance policy to pay for the rest of it. So if your loved one has a a whole life insurance policy. Look at the policy talk, to the salespeople and see what the process is to cash it out if there are no other options to pay for senior living. It may be one of the best investments they ever made In that case The last step and the last way to pay for senior living. The most uncomfortable way for family members to pay for assisted living. The most uncomfortable way for family members to hear about how some people. Um, afford assisted living. And the personal experience that I have is that family members chip in and pay for what their loved one cannot afford inside senior living. And that's where my grandmother's story comes in because she could not afford assisted living. But some family members could. And so family members came together and paid the difference and did that consistently for almost two years. That can be a burden for a lot of people. So clearly it's not a choice for everyone. But for the ones that it is a choice for it does happen. And I want to be honest and vulnerable about that because the question is who can afford senior living. And you will be shocked at the amount of people who can afford it with the help of all these different aspects, but also with the help of their families. Because there's a truth in life, right? It's time or it's money. And in my case with my grandmother, my mother and I devoted 13 years of our lives to caring for her. And all of her varying forms of caregiving needs. And then my aunt was able to pay the financial piece, moving her into assisted living. And it really was the best of both worlds. I have seen family members with one child, when that person pays the difference. I have seen family members that had five children and three of the children paid, and I have seen it where multiple other children paid. And not all of them were able to. Every story is different because the needs of the residents are different. So family involvement, family financial involvement can play a huge role in being able to afford senior living. So just to recap. Senior living is expensive. Yes. But there are ways to help. Liquidating assets. VA aid and attendance, long-term care, insurance policies, Medicaid waivers Or Programs in some states. Financial assistance from family members and liquidating whole life insurance policies. Best advice is to really take that picture down to an 18 month to 22 month window. Because if Medicaid is ultimately going to be paying for a skilled nursing stay. You have to have less than$2,000. It is much better to spend down in a customer service. environment. Where the desire to serve your loved one in in the most beneficial way is there number one goal. Because to me, that's the main difference between assisted living and long-term care. one is strictly healthcare, medical, skilled model. And the other one is built on a social model with assistance, with activities of daily living. You have to spend down assets in the need for the residents care in order to qualify for Medicaid financially. And senior living or sitters at home are the only ways to do that. There are many aspects, pros and cons. As to which one's more beneficial. Being able to stay at home with private duty caregivers versus going and moving into senior living. I believe that is all a whole separate podcast that I'll get to but in my opinion, based on my experience. Uh, Most people enjoy moving into senior living. Than they do Being at home with. sitters. Now again, that's based on my experience because I've worked in senior living for the last 20 years. But I've been able to see the transformations that senior living brings. And I was very proud to be a part of that. You have to choose the right one. You have to choose the one that's affordable for You that meets your needs that you feel comfortable with, but There are ways to afford it. Sometimes we just have to do the hard things in order to get the outcomes that we want. Unfortunately. So. I am open and always willing to talk to you about different things or questions that you may have, and you can reach me on Facebook at Aspire for More with Erin, the page that's on Facebook, You can message me or email me At erinthompson@aspireformorewitherin.com If you feel like this podcast episode has had good content and gave you some valuable information. Write a review. Share the podcast. My goal is to impact the lives of everyone, caring for their elderly loved ones And the elderly people themselves. Because knowledge is power, but even more than that execution Is how you successfully lead by example, in caring for your loved ones and providing them the best outcome for them. Thank you I value your time and i appreciate you spending It with me. Have a great day