I-Team10: "Senior Sticker Shock", here's the advice and help we promised you
Posted at: 08/08/2012 12:40 AM
| Updated at: 08/08/2012 1:45 AM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com
I-Team10 is revealing the "sticker shock" for people faced with putting a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living center. The average price for a nursing home in western New York is $112,000 a year. For assisted living it's $3,600 a month.
Tonight we promised you advice and help.
You'll find weblinks and a phone number below
When Alicia Memmott found a place for her father to live she was told it would cost $2,600 a month.
Insurance wouldn't pay for it.
Her dad's social security covered less than half.
And like so many people in our community she and her family asked themselves -- where are we going to find the money?
"I was just very sad and nervous," Alicia said. "My sister and I were talking on the phone, what are we going to do? I mean what are we going to do?"
Alicia's father, George LaFleur, is a World War II veteran. When he started falling several months ago, his family was forced to find him a safe place to stay. Alicia says the nursing homes she called were nice but went straight to the question of money.
"Does he have 100 grand in the bank? Does he have $150,000 in the bank? How much does he have in the bank?" Alicia said as she recalled the conversation. "He doesn't. He has a few thousand dollars. Well I'm sorry, we can't accept him."
The average cost of a nursing home in Rochester is $112,000 a year. We found some that reached $150,000. Most are private pay and they want their clients to show them the money up front.
Click here to see how we found the average costs for nursing homes in New York
"So someone who has saved up and has a life savings of $100,000, it's only a matter of a few months before they run out of money," elder law attorney Miles Zatkowski said.
We asked him how people can protect their life savings and he gave us several ideas
1 -- people can put their assets in their children's name -- if they trust them.
2 - they can put their money into a trust to make themselves medicaid eligible. (But be careful -- medicaid can look back five years on your finances so you have to do that early on.)
3 - finally -- people can buy long term care insurance when they turn 40.
"So they have to figure out how long will my money last. Will I out live my money or will my money out live me?" Zatkowski questioned. "And it's very scary to think that one day you will have no money left."
The cost of assisted living is less than a nursing home but still significant. According to the state health department, the average cost per month is $3,600.
Click here to see how we found information on the average costs for assisted living facilities in New York
Jennifer Meagher operates Senior Life, a business that helps families navigate the stress of putting a parent in a home.
"Berkeley, you're bringing up exactly the point. People get to this time in their lives and they say gee, I'm surprised. I'm surprised the system is like that. And so what they're telling me is, I had no clue," Meagher said.
That's how Alicia Memmott felt when she starting calling about her dad. It got worse when she realized she was still $1,500 short after her father's social security. But this is where his service to the country paid off.
Aid and Attendance
The assisted living center told Alicia about a little known benefit through the Veterans Administration called "aid and attendance." It's available for every soldier, sailor, airman and marine who served during combat, going all the way back to the Spanish American war in 1898.
The pay out to George LaFleur? $1,700 a month.
Alicia's father was finally covered. Now she's looking to the future.
"I've already talked to my children about planning for that for my husband and I because I wouldn't want them to have to go through this," Alicia said. "So absolutely it's opened my eyes to planning well in advance for all this."
There is no obvious link on the VA's site to aid and attendance. You have to search that specific phrase and then you can find the eligibility details. It's available to the spouses of veterans as well.
Click here for infomation on Aid and Attendance
However, just like medicaid, the VA has a "look back" period to see if veterans are hiding money they could otherwise use. You also cannot apply for it until you're in a facility and the approval can take several months to a year.
For local assistance with Aid and Attendance, call the Veterans Service Office at (585) 753-6040.