When a family goes to a senior community for a tour, can you automatically assume that, because they are there, they can afford it? Do you believe that they have been saving and planning for this day, and are equipped with the knowledge necessary to swiftly move-in? Perhaps once in a while a tour like this happens — but more often it will be the opposite. Studies show that most families are not planning and avoid the subject of senior care for a loved one until they are confronted with a crisis situation.
Senior Living and Long-Term Care Coverage
Most families don’t know the difference between assisted living and a nursing home. The majority of people underestimate the real costs involved, and overestimate their ability to afford the kind of care they want. People confuse Medicare and Medicaid, inaccurately thinking that as a tax payer, one of these “will just pay for what we want, when we need it.”
Not only are most people unaware of what is required to qualify for long-term care coverage from either of these entitlement programs, but people are even less informed about private pay options.
When people start planning for the costs of Senior Living and Long-Term Care (Met Life Mature Markets Institute):
- 13% of people actively plan for how they will live as they grow older and frailer
- 40% only begin to actively plan following a “near catastrophic” health event
- 47% must make long term care decisions in a very short period of time, usually while in the hospital
- 75% exhaust all of their savings and assets while still alive trying to pay for Long Term Care
What people know about the costs of Senior Living and Long Term Care (Met Life Mature Markets Institute):
- 92% incorrectly estimate the monthly cost of a nursing home
- 72% incorrectly estimate the monthly cost of an assisted living facility
- 45% incorrectly believe “Medigap” covers assisted living costs
- 52% incorrectly believe Medicare covers assisted living costs
- 59% incorrectly think Medicare pays for extended nursing home stays
Becoming a Problem Solver for Families
Lack of planning, knowledge and financial capability are some of the biggest obstacles for families who are seeking senior care. The good news is that there are numerous resources available to help families overcome financial challenges. The only requirement is to bring up the subject. You don’t have to be an expert on financial issues, but by being willing to bring up the subject you will find yourself transformed in the eyes of the family from a sales person to a problem solver. You don’t need to have the answers—you just need to help the family explore the questions. Bringing up this subject is not going to lose move-ins, it is going to increase them for your community.
Over the years informational and financial resources have emerged to assist families with senior living and long-term care. There are numerous websites such as www.APlaceforMom.com, and professionals such as Certified Senior Care Advisors or Elder Law Attorneys that can help inform families and guide them to the best financial options. Financial tools such as the Veteran’s Aide & Attendance Benefit, Senior Living Loans and converting life insurance policies into life care funding plans are three examples of financial options that have become mainstream over the last decade. Many assisted living communities offer these programs and work hard to provide “financial solution” tools for staff to assist families. Unfortunately, too often these solutions are not presented to families because staff is reluctant to bring up the topic of finances.
Senior living professional should help families take full advantage of these financial programs, as well as educational and advisory resources, to help them navigate the difficult path of funding senior care. By bringing this topic up as standard information intended to be helpful for everyone, you don’t have to seem like your prying when presenting funding options. 80% of the time or more, families will not only appreciate that you have made information available to them, but they will need these resources to move forward. In today’s day and age funding options are not a luxury, they are a necessity for most families and for senior living operators that want to succeed in a challenging and continuously evolving environment.
Do you have further questions on how to approach the subject of finances with families you tour? Please leave your questions in the comments below.
About the Author
Chris Orestis, CEO of Life Care Funding, is an 18-year veteran of both the insurance and long-term care industries. A nationally known senior care advocate; he is the author of the Amazon best-seller book “Help on the Way,” a legislative expert, featured speaker, columnist and contributor to a number of insurance and long term care industry publications. Chris is a frequent guest about senior issues on national radio programs; and has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Woman’s World Magazine, Fox Business News and PBS.
A former life insurance industry lobbyist with a background in long-term care issues, he created the model to provide a funding option for middle-class people who are not wealthy enough to pay for long-term care, and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Follow his blog on senior living issues and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.