My brother and I will be visiting our elderly mother to tackle the topic of senior living this month. She lives in Holland, Michigan and we both live out of state. When we were visiting with her during the holidays, it was obvious to us that it is time for her to move. She just isn’t safe living alone any longer. We are concerned about how much this will all cost. While she isn’t a low income senior she does live on a fixed income. How do most families pay for assisted living in Michigan? We are trying to get our research done before we head back to our mother’s house this month.
It is a great idea to spend some time researching your options before you talk with your mother, and paying for care is usually one of the first questions we hear. Adult children from across the state of Michigan call our communities every day with your same concerns. The good news is that affordable senior housing is possible. Paying for a quality senior care solution for a loved one doesn’t mean an adult child has to mortgage everything they own. In fact, most families use a combination of resources to finance senior housing. They can include:
- Long-term care insurance: Many adult children overlook this when trying to finance in-home care or assisted living. They think the policy only covers a nursing home stay. In fact, many pay for other levels of care. Be sure to check in to this if your mother has a policy.
- Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Benefit: This is additional money available for veterans and/or a surviving spouse who qualify. If your father was a veteran or your mother is one, this is a great avenue to explore.
- MI Choice: Often referred to as the “waiver” program, it is designed to help Michigan residents who meet certain income and asset criteria finance senior care. If an elderly resident in Michigan qualifies, it can help with assisted living expenses.
- Life settlement solutions: These programs allow the elderly to sell an active life insurance policy for a cash amount greater than the surrender value but less than the face value or death benefit.
- Senior living line of credit: Several companies that offer these types of loans to help finance senior living. These short-term loans can be used, for example, while waiting for the sale of a home to be completed or a better time to liquidate an asset.
- Private funds: Most families do have to use at least some private funds to pay for an assisted living community for a senior loved one. It is typically money from savings, investments or the sale of a home
We hope this helps you, Kristina! We encourage you or your brother to call one of our local Michigan communities, including one we have near your mother in Holland, if you have any more questions.
If you are one of the 50 million adults in the U.S. that lives with arthritis, you may be feeling the effects of a Michigan winter in your joints. Arthritis pain often rises as the mercury level falls. What natural methods can older adults take to manage the pain of arthritis? Here are 9 suggestions for you to try:
- Find ways to keep moving. Even though it seems like the last thing you want to do when you are in pain, exercise is important for managing the pain of arthritis. Ice and snow might keep you from talking your daily walk during winter months. Consider investing in a treadmill or exercise bike to use during inclement days. Many senior centers have bulletin boards where you can find a used one inexpensively. You can also consider seated activities like chair yoga and Body Recall.
- Warm up your joints. Older adults often say one of the best things for their pain is a hot bath or shower. Warming up those damaged joints can provide relief. If you have a YMCA or other rehab center near you, find out if they have an aquatic therapy program you can join.
- Watch your weight. We know how important maintaining a healthy weight is, but for those with arthritis it is doubly so. Each extra pound of weight you carry around puts three to four extra pounds of pressure on your knees. A weight loss of just five pounds can translate to 15 – 20 pounds less pressure on your knees!
- Give your hands a paraffin dip. The kits to do an in-home paraffin dip have fallen significantly in the past few years. You can purchase one for under $30 now. They allow you to heat up the paraffin and soak your hands in it. Some can also accommodate feet! If your hands and feet are the source of your arthritis pain, this is a good investment.
- Have your vitamin D checked. During the cold months of a Michigan winter, many seniors don’t get outside much. That puts you at greater risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Ask your family physician about having a blood test to check your vitamin D. You might need a supplement or prescription dose to pump up your D.
- Consider supplements. Talk with your physician about this first, but consider a supplement to help manage arthritis pain. The Arthritis Foundation has a list of those that science supports and those believed to be harmful. Just be sure to discuss this with your physician and pharmacist to avoid drug interactions.
- Food choices matter. Add more inflammation-fighting foods to your diet. Those include berries, grapes and plums, as well as omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts. Adding ginger to recipes can also help with inflammation.
- Vitamin C may help. Foods rich in vitamin C are now being linked to new collagen production. That is a critical component of cartilage. For those living with joints damaged by arthritis, bell pepper, oranges, kiwi, cauliflower and strawberries might be good dietary choices to make.
- Drink your green tea. The benefits of this little tea leaf are numerous and include helping to block the chemicals in your body that are believed to cause inflammation. That might help prevent cartilage from breaking down more.
We hope one or more of these suggestions helps you find relief this winter!
Adult children often have difficulty discussing financial matters with an aging loved one. In many families, finances just aren’t discussed. Now, as a senior loved one grows older, those conversations are more and more important ones to have. Do you know if they have a will or durable power of attorney and where you might find those documents? In the event of a crisis, would you know what bills your parent has that might need to be paid? Many times an elder crisis is caused by a gradual decline that you see coming, but often times there is no warning. A slip on an icy Michigan sidewalk can send an aging loved one to the hospital and then to rehab. Would you be able to locate the financial and medical documents you need to help them?
To make it easier to get started, we have pulled together a list of basic questions to ask your senior loved one before a crisis occurs.
Important Documents and Medical Cards
- Where is their Medicare card?
- Do they still have traditional Medicare or have they gone with a Medicare replacement product? If they have, what is the company name and where is the card?
- Do they have any type of secondary insurance? If so, what company is it with and where is that card?
- What is their social security number and where do they keep their card? (This is a good time to remind them that this should be stored in a safe place to avoid identify theft and not kept in a wallet or purse)
- Do they have a will? Who is the executor? Is there an attorney involved?
- Where is their original birth certificate?
- Do they have any life insurance and/or long-term care policies?
- Do they have a Power of Attorney (POA) and/ Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)? Who have they named to represent their wishes? Where are these documents? (In the event of a crisis, it is important to have copies on hand and not have to wait for a bank to re-open on Monday should a crisis occur on a weekend.)
- What banks do they use and what are their bank account numbers and passwords? Do they use online accounts?
- Are you or another loved one on the account with them? In the event of an emergency that would require you or another adult child to pay their bills for them would you have authority to do so?
- Do they have a safe deposit box? If so, where is it and where are the keys?
- What bills do they have and when do they pay them?
- Where is their mortgage information or deed to their house? What home owners insurance do they have?
- If they are still driving, is their car paid for in full? Where is the title to the vehicle? Who is it insured through?
- Do they have a list of their stocks, bonds, and other accounts?
Just the thought of asking your senior loved one these questions might make you squirm. But the consequences of not knowing the answers may put your loved one at risk of not getting the help they need and want in a crisis.
Have we missed anything? Please share any questions we’ve missed in the comments below!
During our family visit to my mother’s house in Traverse City, Michigan over the holidays, I came to the conclusion that she just isn’t safe living alone any longer. The change in her condition from last year to this year is quite dramatic. I was so shocked to see how much has changed! Mom has lost a lot of weight, her house was a mess and she is always forgetting to take her heart medications.
I know now that I need to find a senior living community in northern Michigan for her to move to this winter. I’m just not sure what to look for and where to start. Can you offer me any advice? One question I’m wondering about is whether or not I should visit some of the communities before I talk with my mom about moving.
I’m sure there are a considerable number of adult children who came to the same conclusion about their aging parent over the holidays. Many transitions to senior living communities begin at the prompting of an adult child.
Your question about when to involve your mother is one we hear quite often from families who are first beginning this search. The question is a tough one to answer because it really depends upon your personal situation.
If you think making a move is something your mother is ready for and may welcome, it is probably best to involve her right from the start. Some adult children we work with are surprised at how willing their parent is to move, especially those who have become fearful of living alone.
On the other hand if you feel your mother will be resistant, it may help to educate yourself on senior living and explore options before you tackle the topic with her. By eliminating some of the assisted living communities you know won’t work for her and narrowing the choices to those that might, you can make the process easier for her.
Here are a few factors to take in to consideration as you begin your search for care for a Michigan senior loved one:
- What is important to them? For example, do they have a pet they won’t move without? Do they want to be close to their church or to where their grandchildren are?
- Can a community accommodate their care needs now and in to the future? That is always a good question to ask the staff at each of the communities you talk with during your search. The last thing you want to have to do is move your mother again in a few months because she needs more care.
- How much space will they realistically need? This can be a real sticking point for some seniors, especially if they are moving from a large home. What do they really want and need to be able to take with them when they move?
- What type of environment will best suit their personality? Do they like to dress more formally for dinner or are they more comfortable in jeans and sneakers?
- Will they need transportation to physician appointments and for other errands? Assisted living communities all offer different types of transportation and at different prices.
I hope this helps you get started in your search, Patty. Please feel free to call one of the Heritage Senior Living communities if you need additional advice or guidance!