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Does Assisted Living Take All of Your Money? – The Caring Generation®
From:
Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiver Subject Matter Expert Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiver Subject Matter Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Denver, CO
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

 

The Caring Generation® – Episode 108 October 20, 2021. On this episode, caregiving expert, Pamela D Wilson answers the question Does Assisted Living Take All Your Money? Shared are individual and family beliefs about assisted living communities, reasons assisted care becomes necessary, and why care planning and prevention offer more choices. In addition, compare the cost of assisted living to poor health and tradeoffs made by adult children who become caregivers.

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Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.

Assisted Living Takes All of Your Money – Does It Really? Or Is Something Else the Cause?

This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring. Giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.

You are in exactly the right place to share stories, learn about caregiving programs and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, friends, and co-workers to listen to the show. If you have a question or an idea for a future show, share your idea with me by responding to my social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linked In.

Today, I’m answering the question Does Assisted Living Take All Your Money?  We will look at this from three different perspectives: individual and family beliefs, reasons assisted care becomes necessary including the costs, and then the costs of delaying or not choosing assisted living care.

When asking this question or any question in the caregiving realm, it’s also important to ask, what questions should I be asking? Am I asking the right question? What else should I know that I might not know?

The most common reason that aging parents refuse to discuss assisted living is because their children—you—do more and more for them. Eventually, you are providing an assisted living level of care for aging parents and sometimes more. You start out with little things and the tasks and time grow. Nothing you don’t’ already know.

Parents hesitate to talk about making plans for care because they don’t have enough information, do not understand all the options, may be afraid of talking about assisted living or being realistic about their health challenges—and why should they when you are doing everything? All the while, caregivers make parents more dependent on them because you can do things faster, easier, and more efficiently.

So in a sense—the help that family caregivers provide, instead of supporting independence and self-sufficiency—make your parents more dependent on you. If or when you bring up paying for in-home caregivers, assisted living, or any other type of assistance your parents are shocked and possibly insulted that you think they need help.

You hear, “we can take care of ourselves we don’t need to pay for help.” Well of course, they don’t need to pay—you are FREE. This belief happens because of worry about many questions including the question does assisted living take all of your money. What about in-home care, what does that cost?. Why should we pay anyone for care when we’re perfectly okay?

If your parents really think that they can manage without help, my suggestion is to agree to a trial period of 30 days without any contact from you – unless of course there is an emergency. Give your parents back the opportunity to see what they can do or can’t do for themselves. After the trial period get together to talk about what happened. Can your parents do okay without your help? What help do they really need? What plans should be made?

Next to answer the question of does assisted living take all your money are older adults who live alone at home or in senior communities in independent apartments. Aging adults who have been healthy all of their lives with no major health issues can’t imagine why anyone would want to go to assisted living. If you don’t believe me, listen to Podcast Episode 86 Help for Seniors Living Alone, specifically my discussion with Lorraine that begins at about seven minutes into the show.

Healthy older adults begin to see their friends and peers experience health issues. Some have to sell and move out of their homes to assisted living. Sometimes parents blame the move as being forced by adult children or a daughter-in-law or son-in-law. How do I know this? The first time my husband brought up assisted living to my mother-in-law, I was the one to blame. There was no recognition taken by my mother-in-law of falling and breaking her hip plus her pelvis in two places. Even after having 2 prior hip fractures.

For older people, assisted living and nursing homes and the services offered can be viewed very negatively mainly due to fear of being put somewhere and forgotten. Senior adults tell other senior adults “assisted living takes all your money” as if to blame assisted living communities for their existence.

It’s kind of like saying grocery stores or the pharmacy takes all your money. Which can be partially true depending on what you put in your grocery cart or the medicines you take because of your health issues.

Let’s follow this thought process to children of older adults who hear parents say assisted living will take all of my money. Adult children caregivers who are interested in their parent’s money may attempt to tell parents NOT to move to assisted living or pay for care because services might decrease the amount of their inheritance.

Then there’s the opposite. Well, if I don’t take care of mom or dad, they’ll spend their money on themselves and there goes my inheritance or the inheritance of my children. As if the money is already the children’s bank account and parents are dead. Who earned that money? Was it your parents?

In my opinion, a boundary is crossed when children become more interested in their parent’s money instead of the well-being of their parents. I’ve seen it—it happens more than you think—another facet of “does assisted living take all of your money”.

Then let’s say you are the primary caregiver, burned out, stressed, exhausted hanging on by a thread to your mental and physical health. You tell your brothers or sisters—who never have time to help but who are great a telling you what do to that you’re finished being the caregiver. They encourage you by fluffing up your ego, telling you the great job you’re doing and how mom or dad can’t do without you. Of course not, because your brothers and sisters don’t want to help and they’re waiting for their inheritance.

All the while you may be struggling to keep your job, your relationship with your spouse is on the rocks, your children wonder why you spend so much time at grandma and grandpas. You have felt sick for months but you haven’t yet made it to see the doctor.

At this point of exhaustion and burnout—are you still asking the question does assisted living take all your money or are you thinking assisted living—it’s time to move my parents now so that I can save what’s left of my life. Where is the tradeoff in cost? Depending on where your parents live in the United States, assisted living can cost anywhere from $3,500 a month all the way to $10,000.

What price do you— as the caregiver—place on your health, the income, social security contributions, and retirement savings you will lose from a job if you quit or change your schedule to make more time to care for your parents? What is your marriage worth? What about the time you’re not spending with your children because your mom or dad are more of a priority?

Do you ever feel it’s you and your parents on one side and your children and spouse on the other? Are your parents contributing to this divide? Do they expect to be included in all aspects of your life because you’ve led them to believe this is okay? It happens all the time especially when there are no family discussions or no plans for care and no boundaries set.

I know married couples who have moved parents into their home after a fall or health event because mom or dad were not in a position to return to their homes and the children had no idea how to make a plan. If you find yourself in this situation, contact me for a 1:1 eldercare consultation.

Soon after moving parents in the children realized they made a big mistake. Does assisted living take all your money? Maybe, but so can inviting parents to live with you take all your money and turn your life upside down.

All actions that respond to a crisis should always be confirmed as temporary or a stop-gap measure until a more permanent plan to care for aging parents is created. Even still there are family caregivers who complain about all the hard work they do every day to care for parents but who refuse to consider the idea of someone else doing what they do and they refuse to consider hiring help.

In these cases, you can ask your brother or sister, “are you complaining to complain or do you want to do something to change the situation? Are you willing to do something to change the situation?” Some parents and caregivers only want to complain because they don’t want to make any changes, don’t have any solutions, or honestly don’t know what to do to save themselves from themselves.

The next answer to does assisted living take all your money? The answer is—it can if you live long enough. A nursing home at $8-10,000 a month will take your money a lot faster than an assisted living community and you won’t be living in such nice surroundings.

So if parents need help—you or a sibling can no longer be the caregiver—it’s time to tell a parent – it’s time to spend your money on you. Paying $4,000 maybe $5,000 a month will give you access to the care you need and more. It will also free up time for us to refocus on career, our marriage and or children. All things that many caregivers give up to care for aging parents and don’t realize the damage done until it truly is too late and career options and family relationships are permanently damaged.

Instead of asking does assisted living take all your money, may be the question should be what does assisted living offer to give caregivers back their lives? We pay for things every day. Gas to run our cars, food to feed our bodies, a cup of coffee. These are things we value because we exchange money for them.

What value do your parents give to your time? What value do you give in return for the paycheck you receive? What value does that paycheck give back to you? Does it pay your mortgage and your utilities, send your kids to school, give you a night out with a husband or wife every now and then.

Why is it that when it comes to caring for aging parents, thoughts of costs, tradeoffs, value given, or value received rarely discussed? It’s because caregivers don’t see their lives or time as valuable when they are in the role of a caregiver for a parent.

Even more, you have no idea how to talk to parents about whether to accept caregiving responsibilities or how to make a plan for the future. Not planning increases the likelihood that you will be responding to a crisis one day, make a rushed decision, maybe a bad decision, and end up in exactly the situation you hoped to avoid when you were doing all those things and worrying about the wrong question—does assisted living take all your money? More on this after a break.

The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. I invite you to like and follow the show on your favorite music or podcast app. Visit my website pameladwilson.com to check out my caregiver course online, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond, with 30 hours of webinars and other information featuring practical steps for taking care of elderly parents, spouses, and how to make a plan for aging and health.

Taking the course is like binge-watching a Netflix series where you learn about all the things you never expect that can happen in a compressed period of time and you can always go back and watch it again. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiver expert, consultant, and author on the Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.

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does assisted living take all your money15:43:64 This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and aging adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn about caregiver support programs, health, well-being, and other resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead.

If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues. If you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents and that didn’t go so well, let me start the conversation for you. Share The Caring Generation podcasts with your parents, your family, and your friends. There are over 100 episodes. You can also visit my website pameladwilson.com, Click on How I Help, then Family Caregivers then Eldercare Consultation to schedule a 1:1 eldercare consultation today by telephone or video call.

We’re back with more answers to does assisted living take all of your money. In the first part of the program, we discussed scenarios where individuals and older adults have opinions about whether assisted living is a good thing or not, the costs, beliefs of family members about where to spend money on care or preserve it for an inheritance.

Let’s now address the issue of value—are assisted living communities only interested in your money. Let’s look at the opposite situation of caregiving families. An older adult, now sometimes called a solo ager, if you don’t have family members or children willing, able, to care for you, you have to make a plan. You may have friends, but you’re not expecting your friends to take care of you, or I hope you’re not.

In this situation, you must have a plan for your care because you don’t have anyone waiting in the wings to scoop up the pieces when something unexpected or a crisis happens. For these older adults, assisted living is a good option because they need the help. Assisted living communities vary in the extent of services they provide.

Most offer 3 meals a day, available snacks, housekeeping, laundry, medication reminding, transportation to the store, and to medical appointments. Some have visiting physicians and other services like beauticians, nail trimming, etcetera. All services that are beneficial to the health and wellbeing of older adults. In addition, community living offers the ability to socialize right outside your door.

The positive effects of socialization and being with other people are greatly underestimated as are the effects of loneliness and isolation.  People who are socially active and engaged have fewer health issues, live more positive lives, and are happier.

On the other hand, people who feel lonely or isolated—and this includes many family caregivers—might be distressed from not having their needs being met, may not feel needed, may feel rejected by others, feel like a burden or have a sense of loss of control over many aspects of their lives. Some individuals who feel isolated or alone might see the world as a threatening place which means they are less likely to see out social interaction because they don’t trust anyone.

Older adults living in assisted living have as much opportunity as they want, as they choose, to socialize, participate in activities, and engage in life. Compare this to a parent who sits home alone all day in front of the television and who doesn’t drive. While the comfort of home may pose some benefits – what difference might access to all of these services make in the life of your parent and in the life of you as the caregiver if you’re not having to take care of all of these things.

Might the expense of assisted living allow you to return to being a son or daughter and having a relationship with mom or dad instead of always being the person with something to do who is distressed about not being able to do all of the other things you’d really rather be doing. About not being continually angry or upset about your siblings who are not helping out.

Does assisted living take all of your money? Does not using assisted living take all of your life? Assisted living has a cost but the benefits may be equal to or more than the financial cost to your parents and the financial and emotional costs to you and your family. That’s something to think about.

Now let’s talk about why assisted living becomes necessary. I also don’t want to forget to bring up the cost or the general costs of care. There is a Caring Generation show that answers these questions, it’s called the Costs of Caring for Elderly Parents, scroll through The Caring Generation app or find the show on my website, it’s Episode 14. This program features an interview about the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program that helps pay for care costs if your parents were a veteran and they meet the requirements of the program.

Assisted living becomes necessary because an older adult requires assistance with daily physical activities or has a diagnosis of memory loss. Difficulty performing physical activities results from physical weakness and a diagnosis of chronic disease which can start as early in your 30’s but not greatly affect you until 20 or 30 years later when those small issues you were having become major problems.

This is why learning about health prevention, remaining active with exercise and strength training, a healthy diet and many other recommendations you hear from doctors are very important if you want to minimize needing care when you’re older or not have to move to a care community. In very simple terms, we need care when we’re older because we didn’t do a good job of caring for ourselves when we were younger or maybe we were involved in an unexpected accident or diagnosed with a disease for which we didn’t investigate and understand the long-term effects.

While it may be too late to do anything about your health—except for maintain and manage health conditions if you are an older adult—it’s not too late for your children or you if you are the caregiver. This is another reason to flip the question does assisted living take all of your money upside down. Think about the opposite perspective. The question should be what things do I need to do to remain independent and not need assisted living.

Let’s move on to the last part of the answer to the question why is assisted living so expensive. Most assisted living communities have a base rate and then levels of care. Practical sense would tell you that the less care you need the lower your rate. So the more you can do for yourself the less money you spend.

What if we looked at life activities as a piggy bank or a bank account? You exercise today for one hour that saves you $100 in healthcare expenses. Or you sit all day and don’t get up for more than 5 or 10 minutes—that costs you $1,000 in healthcare expenses. I wish it were that easy to evaluate the things that we do that contribute or take away from our health. How would that change our lives?

There are some obvious takeaways or expenses, smoking, or any kind, heavy alcohol use, never exercising, eating fatty foods that clog your arteries with cholesterol and result in heart disease. While these seem obvious or common sense they’re not always. Your view on health and wellness is greatly influenced by your parent’s view on health and wellness. The way you grew up in your family.

The pattern interrupt here is any life event that causes you to look at health differently and make different choices. For me, the pattern interrupt was a sick mother beginning in my teens and twenties and my mother died at age 69. I knew I didn’t want a life like that so in my early twenties, I joined a gym, started investigating health and I’ve been doing these consistently ever since.

So, as you listen to this program and other episodes think about what you can do today to improve or maintain your health. Think about what you can do to stop health conditions from worsening. If you don’t know ask your doctor, gather information from disease-specific organizations like the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and others.

Many times it’s not that people don’t want to be healthy or feel well—the problem is that people don’t understand what it takes to be healthy and feel good. Gaining knowledge about health and well-being is the first step. Then you have to create a plan to do the things that can have a positive effect on your life and begin to do these each day.

Establishing new habits or changing old habits can be a little challenging or even stressful. It can take weeks or months to see any positive effects which can be disappointing because we in the United States want everything now. When you think about health, the health issues your parents experience today likely began 20 or 30 years ago. It took years for that problem to become significant and life-changing.

The positive habits you commit to today, even though you can see them or may not seem them immediately, will show benefits over time but you may not truly realize until 20 or 30 years from now when you are healthier than your friends or peers who didn’t live healthy lives. You may have friends who have health issues that limit their abilities or result in their becoming disabled and unable to work.

The quality of your health – good or bad – has a significant effect on the rest of your life. If you are a young adult share this podcast with your parents, your friends your co-workers. Believe that others may not want to listen. They may not be interested.

Set an example through your daily habits so that everyone can avoid asking the question, why does assisted living take all your money. It doesn’t have to if you are healthy OR if you have the money to pay for assisted living that may be exactly what you need to live the best life possible based on your health conditions.

does assisted living take all your moneyThoughts about assisted living are a glass half full or a glass half empty belief. Being thankful that communities and people exist to care for older adults who need care is important. Or you can be suspicious or angry about having poor health and not having a choice but to move to a community where you have to pay for care based on the health habits you embraced 20 or 30 years ago. The choice is up to you. What will you choose?

And for those of you who are thinking, ah, I can’t afford assisted living. Everyone can go to assisted living if you plan early enough and you understand what Medicare and Medicaid offer and what health insurance offers and what you have to pay for privately.

More education and support for caregivers is on my website pameladwilson.com and on my YouTube and Facebook pages with hundreds of videos. Go there, follow me, they will answer your questions. Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, well-being, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends, co-workers, and everyone you know to listen each week.

I’m Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and pleasant journeys until we are here together again.

Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

©2021 Pamela D. Wilson All Rights Reserved

About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

 Check Out Podcast Replays of The Caring Generation® Radio Program for Caregivers and Aging Adults HERE

Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA is an international caregiver subject matter expert, advocate, and speaker. More than 20 years of experience as a direct service provider in the roles of a court-appointed guardian, power of attorney, and care manager led to programs supporting family caregivers and aging adults who want to be proactive about health, well-being, and caregiving. Wilson provides online and on-site education and caregiver support for caregivers, consumer groups, and corporations worldwide. She may be reached at +1 303-810-1816 or through her website.

 

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