First and Foremost, Save Something for Yourself
(Part 2) A Financial Blog Series About Assisted Living Funding Sources, Payment Programs, and Possible Pitfalls
By Theresa Pichelmeyer, Valley VNA President & CEO
In a recent blog, I wrote about one of the Big Elephants in The Room; that is, how to address the guilt we often feel when we help move a parent or other loved one from his or her longtime home into assisted living.
Another major source of anxiety is how to pay for this new level of care. This is the second of three blogs about how to finance assisted living.
As you may recall, assisted living communities like Valley VNA are private pay. The individual and/or his or her family needs to have the resources to pay for assisted living housing and care. In very specific circumstances, government programs (like Medicaid) might help pay for a senior’s stay in an assisted living facility, but not for sure, not right away, and not entirely.
There are many, many different levels of care at Valley VNA, all dependent upon the changing personal needs and preferences of the individual resident. Therefore, monthly rates can vary from around $3600-$7000 per month (updated Mar. 2017). There are several sources that can be combined to pay for these customized levels of lodging, dining, and care services:
- Pensions and Retirement Accounts
- Social Security
- Veteran’s Benefits
- Long Term Care Insurance
- Proceeds from the Sale of a Home
- Other Savings & Investments
There is planning and prep work you and your family can do now, before an emergency puts you in a time crunch for completing paperwork and administrative tasks. Remember, a last-minute rush may limit your choices for getting you or your loved one into your desired care setting.
- First and foremost, save something for yourself. Spend time thinking and talking about how you intend to pay for your long term care. Don’t prioritize leaving an inheritance for your kids and grandkids over your own comfort and care. If you sell your home, set that money aside to pay for your new living arrangements. If you’ve saved and invested money over the years, reserve it for yourself. It is good and rewarding to give gifts that support the dreams of your individual family members, but do not give away or tuck away nearly all your assets before you know what your own living expenses will be. You’ve earned it; you have a right to use it.
- Get all your documents in order. This includes a list of your pension income, retirement account disbursements, and monthly Social Security payments, typically very important sources of income to pay for assisted living expenses.
- Talk to a trusted accounting or financial planning professional. Upon your death, there is a look-back period when the government may seek the return of assets you gave to family members and others in your effort to qualify for government programs like Medicaid (sometimes called intentional impoverishment). This money could be taken back from your family as reimbursement for Medicaid funds spent on your care.
- Research your veteran’s benefits. This is often a long, arduous process. That’s why it makes sense to do the investigation now. Start by contacting your county veterans’ services office and remember to ask about veterans’ spousal benefits.
- Research and invest in long term care insurance. Many people do this around age 50-55. Go through a trusted insurance agent or financial planner and read the fine print. Does the policy cover in-home care? Skilled nursing care? Assisted living care? For how long? How and when does coverage kick in?
My next blog will talk about a very important question you should ask when looking for an assisted living facility; namely, “Under what circumstances could I or my loved one be asked to move from my assisted living community?” In the meantime, do you have more questions about how to choose or pay for assisted living? Call us at (920) 727-5555 and we’ll connect you with a helpful, knowledgeable person to help you navigate the process.