Today, I spoke to a woman who is in the middle of a crisis. She briefly explained how her mom had been in an assisted living facility, but without a financial plan had run out of funds. So now mom lives 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 I hear over and over and ends with 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 Too Long for a Financial Plan
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.
Excuses for No Financial Plan
- Seeing a professional is too expensive
- Parents didn't want to talk about it
- No adult children/family involved
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, that not seeking the advice of a professional was far more costly. If there are adult children involved, they often tell me that mom and dad don't have a financial plan because they "never wanted to talk about it."
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 homes no matter what. That's not a promise that can be made or should be made. Though I hear that promise was made by many a guilt-ridden spouse or adult child as mom and/or dad moves into a care facility.
Set Goals for a Financial Plan
Staying at home safely is an achievable goal though it is almost always the most expensive. Moving to an assisted living facility is often less desirable for our current senior population but far more cost-effective.
Families that do not take the time to create a financial plan often find themselves paying the price. The lack of a financial plan depletes the senior's assets, depletes the adult child's/children's assets, and results in lost time at work for the adult child/children. Or, as in the case of the woman today - cohabitating 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 the family had taken the opportunity to plan, it is doubtful this would have been the choice.