Today, I spoke to a woman who is in the middle of crisis. She briefly explained how her mom had been in an assisted living facility, but had run out of funds so now mom is at home with her. Mom has a very small amount of money from social security and another small stipend, both totaling just over $1,000/month. She had to get off the phone quickly as she was babysitting her granddaughter and her mother was calling for assistance.
This is a situation that used to surprise me. For the last couple of years, it has been the story that precedes the words, "Can you help me?" The short answer is probably not. The long answer involves a series of solutions that should have been sought out quite a while ago. Waiting to make a plan is one of the most common pitfalls I run into. If you are planning senior care when you are out of money, it is too late. If you are planning senior care when your loved one is 80, it may be too late.
Even those who believe they have planned adequately for their health care may find themselves falling a bit short. Financial planning is incredibly important for people of any economic status. Family conversations about the wishes of the elder are vital to determine what the goals are and if funds are available to cover the costs. Far too often I am told that the expense of seeking financial planning by a professional was far too expensive. I can tell you, based on the experiences of many, not seeking the advice of a professional was far more costly.
There is no one price tag for senior care. It all depends on the goals of the senior. Most seniors want to stay in their home no matter what. That's not a promise that can be made, or should be made - though I hear that the promise was made from many a guilt-ridden spouse or adult child as mom and/or dad moves into a care facility. Staying at home safely is a goal that can be achieved though it is almost always the most expensive. Moving to an assisted living facility, though often less desirable for our current senior population, is far more cost effective.
Families that do not take the time to plan often find themselves paying the price - depleting the senior's assets, depleting the adult child's/children's assets, loss of time at work for the adult child/children, or, as in the case of the woman today - co-habitating with her mother and providing her care while babysitting grandchildren. While this is reminiscent of days gone by, this is often an unrealistic plan for today's families. If given the opportunity to plan, it is doubtful this would have been the choice..