GUEST COLUMN: Don’t put off search for retirement homes for loved ones

Source: California Department of Aging.
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Source: California Department of Aging.
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By Bob Belive
For The Daily Gazette

Although many of us don’t really think we will end up in a nursing home someday or become a burden to our family as we reach those golden years, you may want to take a closer look or do some better planning before it slaps you right in the face.

Recently my wife, Ellie, and I had to face that exact situation with her mom.

All I can say is that it’s a real eye opener.

We have all heard the arguments about hiding assets, setting up a trust and doing everything you can to keep your money and let the government pick up the rest of the cost to care for a loved one.

As inviting as that sounds, if they don’t have between $60,000 and $70,000 a year as income your chances of picking a facility to place your loved one in becomes a difficult issue.

Whether it’s independent living, assisted living, enhanced assisted living or memory care the price increases at each level of care.

For example after visiting over six or seven facilities the monthly fees ranged from $4,300 to a whopping $8,600 per month.

Add to that some facilities required a “Buy In” that ranged anywhere between $2,000 and $7,000.

Oh, and “although we’d love to have you, there’s a waiting list”. Between paying for aides and rent, we were close to $6,000 per month already.

In as much as we should have purchased long term health insurance years ago, we never really considered it necessary because after all we never thought it was needed.

A co-worker of mine’s mother was in a facility in Ossining, N.Y., (closer to his sister) who had purchased long term health insurance when she was in her sixties.

He showed me the bills and I almost fell over. Close to $17,000 a month.

Although his mom had the money to pay the bills, the insurance reimbursed her on a monthly basis.

Another bit of information you should be aware of is that when you see these ads on TV showing all this love and caring to place your loved one, they call you all hours of the day pursuing you like a bookie trying to retrieve a bad debt.

The facilities we visited also told us they make a huge commission if we place through them. So much for the impression of sincerity.

When my mother was placed in a facility in 2014, it was pretty simple. She had no assets to speak of besides her social security and it was a breeze getting her into a place of her choice in Amsterdam.

Actually it was my first real life experience entering a nursing home (rehab center), and quite frankly I got sick to my stomach when I arrived there before she was transferred from the hospital.

Believe it or not, she thrived there for several years and had real moments of true happiness while living there.

Because of my being a professional musician, I eventually assisted in picking the entertainment in activities.

I hadn’t seen some of the musicians I played with through the years until I ran into them there. It really helped me to deal with the entire situation.

My mom handled it better than my sister and I.

Although my mom passed just before her 99th birthday, I managed to spend the last day with her singing, dancing and eating cake and ice cream.

She passed in her sleep that night.

To close on a positive note, we somehow were connected to an older facility in Loudonville. And after going to so many places, we were very impressed with everything we experienced there.

The staff had been working there for many years, and as was pointed out to us, there were no long hallways, all rooms open up to the main dining and activities area, there are several patios accessible (weather permitting) and within our price range, and the food and care is great.

We can sleep at night.

Bob Belive, an Amsterdam native, is a retired Glenville business owner.

Categories: Guest Column, Opinion

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