Be Careful What You Promise To Your Spouse, Partner or Parents

On January 1, 2011, baby boomers began turning 65-years-old. In fact, a baby boomer will turn 65 every eight seconds, and by 2030, there will be twice as many people over the age of 65 as there currently exist today.

As baby boomers begin to reach retirement age, more and more discussion is taking place about the aging process. One topic being discussed among families, aging in place, is the idea that it is normal for the majority of people to want to live at home as they age. The MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0, Rethinking Solutions to the Home Care Challenge” (September 2010) states “although a large majority of older Americans say they want to Age in Place, it is often more easily said than done. Today’s care infrastructure, technologies, existing housing, funding sources, and the businesses and services available for Aging in Place are not being fully realized in order to achieve the promise most hope for as America ages.”

Though staying at home is certainly the choice of the elderly, it may not be the safest or least costly choice. Below are a couple examples of comments I’ve heard from clients which are all too common:

“I promised my wife I would never put her in a convalescent home,” said a caring husband about his wife with Alzheimer’s who is also a fall and wander risk. NOTE: The home is not safe for someone in her condition. The husband is in poor health and all three children live out of state and have jobs and their own children to take of.

“I gave my word to my father that he would not go to a nursing home, and if needed, I would make sure he gets the proper care at his home. He has lived in this home for the last 50 years.” NOTE: Because of the father’s condition, he cannot be left alone, so in order to live at home, he needs 24-hour assistance, 7 days per week. Due to the significant cost for this, the father’s money will be depleted in less than one year.

There are two misconceptions that many have regarding long-term care:

1. “If I don’t stay home, I’ll need to go to a Nursing Home”

There was a time when nursing homes were the main type of facility for long-term care. Many of us remember going to visit loves ones at these locations with horrible smells and less than adequate care. Today, nursing homes are mainly set up for short-term stays after being hospitalized for recovery and strengthening. Those who need to be in nursing homes for long-term care are either on Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) or need medical care (i.e. – IV’s, feeding tubes, wound care, coma care, quadriplegics). Most people still believe that if they are not taken care of at their own home, they will have to go to a Nursing or Convalescent Home. That is simply not true.

2. “Assisted Living is another name for a Nursing Home”

There are approximately 1,300 Nursing Homes and just under 8,000 Assisted Living locations in the State of California. Therefore, far more people who need assistance reside in assisted living versus skilled nursing. Assisted Living options range from small, family Residential Care Homes to larger, full-service communities with hundreds of residents. The smaller locations are similar to living in someone’s home with live-in caregivers who provide assistance. The larger locations (communities) are more like Senior Apartments with caregivers providing 24/7 assistance.

More and more seniors are becoming residents of small, large and specialized Assisted Living facilities including dementia care. Generally speaking, Assisted Living is for people that need help with the activities of daily living (ADL’s). ADL’s are considered the routine activities that people tend do everyday without needing assistance. There are six basic ADL’s, including eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (walking) and continence.

Be careful of the promises you make to loved ones regarding long-term care. You may be promising something that could be less safe at a far higher cost.

Frank M. Samson is Founder of Senior Care Authority based in Sonoma and also hosts “The Aging Boomers” on KSVY 91.3 or can be listened to live at www.ksvy.com, every Monday at 2pm PT. The company provides free assistance to families in helping them find the best Independent, Assisted Living and Residential Care Homes for their loved ones. He can be reached at 707.939.8744 or e-mailed at frank@seniorcareauthority.com. The company website is www.seniorcareauthority.com.