Housing is Too Expensive!

Maybe you already know that swear words are all the rage on book titles lately.  Even though I don’t think that’s good news, I did think about calling my own book: Elder care – It’s a Shit Show. Why? Well, that current phrase captures the essence of how hard it can be when caring for an aging adult. And, it’s made harder by the lack of coordinated resources and funds for families to cope. This is especially true for housing.

You already know housing is expensive. It can be even more so as we age because we may move into an assisted living or a skilled nursing facility, or pay for some care at home.

If you move to an Independent Living apartment, it can cost $3000+ per month and Assisted Living can run $4000-$10,000/month. So, if you need care from ages 80-90, let’s say, and average $6000/month, that’s $720,000 for those 10 years. Yikes!

Home care is about $30/hour, with three-four hour minimums by most companies. A relative of mine spent $47,000 in home care after a broken ankle!

A daughter I worked with had to move her mom from “regular” assisted living, due to safety issues associated with dementia, yet couldn’t afford memory care in another assisted living community. So, she did what thousands of people do, she moved mom to a nursing home because it’s paid for by Medi-Cal. Did mom need this?  Nope!  But it’s what our government helps pay for in California.

Her mom went from her own apartment, to a room with three others, separated only by curtain dividers.  When someone watches TV, everyone hears the show; when someone poops in a bedside toilet, everyone hears and smells that. Talk about a big shift in quality of life.

We need to put pressure on the government to fund better solutions than a nursing home when people don’t need that level of care and have limited assets.

Note, there is the “Assisted Living Waiver Program” which operates in 14 California counties.  It allows Medi-Cal to pay for assisted living in participating county homes. But, word on the street is that Medi-Cal has not been paying the participating homes… and there are only a handful participating to begin with. Other states fund assisted living with Medicaid without a waiver program and we should follow suit. http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/ltc/Pages/AssistedLivingWaiver.aspx

I’m hoping to shape policy with other gerontologists and senior care industry professionals so cost-effective solutions are implemented…at least it’s a start in my neck of the woods.