When this began for me, March 1st 2016, I had a few goals in mind.
- Slow down the spending. Amazing amounts of money were going out and nothing coming in. This couldn’t last, no matter how much they saved. I needed to figure out how much it really costs to live at home and find a way to keep them within some kind of budget.
- Keep them in their home. This was the request from both my parents before coming down here. My sister and I had tried multiple times discussing the idea of “assisted living” to them and they would always say “No”. I had no idea what would be involved with their health failing, but I needed to understand it, quickly.
- Find private care. Both my parents were happy with the daytime person, but they were not happy with the constant change of nighttime care. Also, my daytime person’s health was failing quickly and I needed to address it.
- I needed to live somewhere else. This was the agreement I made before doing this. I couldn’t be “in” this 24/7. I new enough from talking and witnessing other’s that my space would become vital in this journey.
So this is where it began. I immersed myself in the bills, the groceries and all aspects of the finances. First step, get the Power of Attorney to as many people as I could that would need it. Banks, CPA’s, Credit Card companies, Mortgage company and Insurance companies. This made it so I could speak to them about issues or questions without them having to ask to “speak to your mother”! No matter how old you are, it’s not pleasant to here that! LOL
Now that I was in it, it was not as easy as just seeing how much was going out. There were CONSTANT changes. Bills I didn’t expect would show up ( things like HOA dues every 3 months), doctors would change medications that were not covered by insurance. Before I moved down, there were months that almost triple the cost of Assisted living was going out! I had researched assisted living and new we were looking at close to 8k as a realistic number. I had to get it down quick. Now I realize some people are going to be questioning me as to why I am sharing such personal information as these financial figures. My feeling is, I wish someone would have shared it with me before I started! Do we as Baby boomers really have any clue?! We need to be open and help each other.
I saw groceries, medications and standards bills were not going to budge much. I did however start removing credit cards, way to many for 2 people who didn’t leave the house. Some of the cards had monthly charges on them. So, I started calling and finding things like AOL charging $39 every month for 2 years for a service my Mother no longer had. Car insurance charging on more cars then they owned. I had not realized how much was getting pushed aside when their health started failing. I feel we should have stepped in sooner, but I can’t dwell on that, no regrets is how i live.
So, this first step is tedious and frustrating. You so badly want them to live the life they have been enjoying, however, they need to make some changes. It is not easy trying to persuade your parents they need to make changes. Now, of all times! Dad had rages easily because of his dementia and Mom struggled so with her memory, she would swear she had done something, and it had been months ago. For this I did my best sales techniques. Listen, don’t over talk it. I would explain what I needed to do and then ask them their opinion. They often would agree, but sometimes it took more persuading. A few times I had to “stand up” to my Dad. He wouldn’t understand and then ask me if I thought I was the boss of him. I didn’t want him to feel that way, but I could see how it must feel. When it came to safety things like making him use his walker, I sometimes would say “Yes Dad, in this particular situation I do have to be the boss. I know if you saw me doing something dangerous you would step in and stop me. I am doing that for you. I hope you can understand.” He would grumble and moan (or swear and cuss me out) and then 10 minutes later be fine, and using his walker!
Life lesson: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONAL!
So step one took months to get a handle on. Once I got private care (I will go over that in detail later), took control of bills, found more efficient ways shop and became methodical turning in their long term health care receipts (i will go over this too), things started looking better. We were averaging the high end cost of Assisted Living with everything included. I eventually got that down to around what would be considered a Median price.
Here is a chart of costs for Assisted Living. Keep in mind, the “minimal” is something I have never seen. The maximum is a place my parents might have been comfortable in. A nice location, clean and very high rated. My parents standards might have been high, but it is the life they worked for and had become accustomed to.
State Minimum Median Maximum
Alabama$930 $3,075 $6,524
Alaska$800 $5,703 $8,250
Arizona$1,400 $3,418 $7,072
Arkansas$1,100 $3,063 $5,900
California$698 $3,750 $10,650
Colorado$2,050 $3,750 $8,850
Connecticut$2,551 $5,575 $10,800
Delaware$5,061 $5,745 $8,175
District of Columbia$4,950 $7,838 $8,600
Florida$1,000 $3,150 $8,280
Georgia$619 $2,880 $6,840
Hawaii$1,384 $4,000 $8,892
Idaho$1,800 $3,240 $5,450
Illinois$1,278 $4,050 $9,840
Indiana$1,600 $3,693 $7,860
Kansas$2,300 $4,188 $7,500
Kentucky$1,181 $3,350 $10,125
Louisiana$600 $3010 $4,722
Maine$1,935 $4,800 $8,880
Maryland$1,750 $3,900 $8,950
Massachusetts$1,988 $5,300 $9,495
Michigan$800 $3,250 $8,465
Minnesota$876 $3,468 $10,500
Mississippi$1,525 $3,150 $6,600
Missouri$700 $2,525 $6,400
Montana$1,000 $3,560 $6,000
Nebraska$1,985 $3,628 $6,225
Nevada$1,500 $3,238 $5,889
New Hampshire$2,750 $5,103 $8,975
New Jersey$3,280 $5,725 $11,250
New Mexico$2,000 $3,500 $6,000
New York$1,100 $4,100 $11,100
North Carolina$1,000 $3,000 $7,143
North Dakota$959 $ 3,239 $ 5,250
Ohio$877 $3,890 $8,940
Oklahoma$950 $3,345 $6,340
Oregon$2,000 $3,880 $6,955
Pennsylvania$900 $3,555 $6,955
Rhode Island$3,370 $5,325 $8,500
South Carolina$1,341 $3,125 $5,700
South Dakota$1,900 $3,023 $5,250
Tennessee$600 $3,395 $7,128
Texas$900 $3,545 $9,000
Utah$2,000 $3,000 $6,750
Vermont$1,266 $4,020 $6,050
Virginia$1,200 $3,933 $10,350
Washington$1,845 $4,625 $9,750
West Virginia$1,600 $3,500 $8,452
Wisconsin$740 $3,980 $10,000
Wyoming$2,250 $3,900 $4,695
*This chart is from SeniorHomes.com