Easy ways to make senior living affordable - The Explorer: Senior Living

Easy ways to make senior living affordable

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Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Wed Aug 20, 2014.

(BPT) - Kathy Hesselgrave’s 90-year-old mother’s health declined to the point where she was no longer able to live in her home by herself. Because her mother needed help cooking and taking her medication, Hesselgrave found herself taking care of her mom, splitting the days and nights with her niece. Other family members pitched into help, too, but it became too much.

“We didn’t have the money in the bank for her to move into assisted living,” says Hesselgrave, who lives in Sussex, Wis. “So we worked with a company that helps in this kind of situation and took a loan against her home to help pay for care until her house is sold.”

Hesselgrave’s situation is becoming common among the “sandwich generation” – middle-aged Americans who are caring for their parents and their children. This year, the youngest baby boomers turn 50 and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, people 65 and older are expected to represent 20 percent of the population by 2030, nearly a two-thirds increase in percentage from 2010. As America’s “silver tsunami” draws near, more seniors and their children are searching for options to pay for retirement living and quality care.

“When making plans for the future and looking for a senior living community that’s right for you or your loved one, it’s important to find a community that will work with you and care about your unique needs and abilities,” says Greg Richard, chief operating officer of Brookdale, a leading senior living company that operates more than 1,100 communities in 46 states. “Finding a community that will partner with you and help find solutions to financial, social and health care needs makes a transition easier and more enjoyable.”

Even with the best financial planning, seniors and their families are looking for a creative, smart and advantageous way to pay for retirement living and quality care in the future. Most don’t think they can afford living in a retirement or assisted living community, until they find out that a wide variety of financial options is available to them.

For instance, for veterans who need assistance, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers benefits in addition to a monthly pension through the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program. This support allows veterans and their surviving spouses who require a caregiver to assist in various aspects of daily living - including eating, bathing, dressing and medication dosing - to receive money to help pay for long-term care in their own home, a skilled nursing community or an assisted living community. The benefit is not dependent upon service-related injuries. A veteran married to a non-veteran is eligible for approximately $2,000 per month while a married couple who are both veterans is eligible for nearly $2,800 per month. Benefits are also available to veterans who are independent, but who have an ill spouse. Veterans can get monthly financial assistance not only for themselves if they need care, but also for a spouse who needs assistance.

Richard says that Brookdale partners with several companies that offer reverse mortgage loan options, life insurance solutions and home equity loans. Financial counselors are available to assist seniors and their families in determining the best financial option to help pay for home care, assisted living or retirement community needs. Many of these companies, like Elderlife Financial Services, can get families the money they need in less than 24 hours to help with funding gaps. Others, like Life Care Funding Group, can take an existing life insurance policy and set up a long-term care benefit plan.

“Planning for the future is difficult, especially for those of us who didn’t start saving early enough during our main bread-winning years,” says Richard. “Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to research the financial options available for your future or your loved one’s needs.”

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