Don’t Get Me Wrong
One question people confront me with is: “If you couldn’t afford the cost of Senior living, why did you move there? You knew you couldn’t afford it.” I whine about the cost of Senior living facilities frequently. I am not asking for pity, I just don’t understand why the cost of independent living in a senior facility that is paired with assisted living and memory care costs so much. And so I whine. The reason we moved to an independent/ assisted living complex when we knew money would be depleted quickly was because my husband has memory loss. I was taking care of him and knew it couldn’t continue the way it was. After all, I’m no spring chicken either. We visited many alternatives for independent/assisted living. Some facilities need a resident to be private pay for a year before they can go on elderly waiver or cadi waiver. We knew our money would not last that long. Some facilities take Elderly Waiver immediately. The one common thread we found throughout our search was that if you needed to go into memory care the people that live in the established independent/assisted living community are chosen first. Openings are limited in memory care and it was a priority that we be accepted somewhere so when the time came for memory care for my husband he would have a place. We knew eventually when more help was needed, I would stay independent on the money allotted me as a spouse to live, as I have no need for assisted living, making me ineligible for county help. Which in my eyes is good. Life on assistance isn’t the piece of cake many think it is when they are complaining about those being helped by the government. The criteria is stringent and if you are on Elderly waiver the spend down happens first. After paying your rent a resident is left with around 100 dollars for any essentials not covered that they might need. The people we know here that are on these waivers literally have limited money for anything but the basics. They are on their own for clothes, any food they want outside of the three meals a day, toiletries, toilet paper etc. They have no money for a car or gas even if they can still drive. They are not able to afford a meal away in a restaurant or gifts for family. Essentially their needs are taken care of, however those who are here of sound mind, but have issues where they need help, literally have no life other then here. They can’t afford extras. Some do not even have money for furniture for their rooms, and not all have families to help them out. The first person cost and the second person cost private pay does not include meals or a garage. Those are extras. We are at the decision making process now. I will have to move out to an apartment I can afford and my husband will go to a memory care, sooner then he would if I could afford to stay. The tiered structure that is charged for an apartment for a couple puts the basic cost of rent on the first person, that would be me. The second person, my husband, gets a reduced rate but we pay that too even though he is on elderly waiver. That cost gets added to the first person rent. And no, it would not have made any difference if he was first or second. When someone goes on waiver they automatically get switched to second person. The cost he is charged is regulated by the county and the facility cannot charge more. The first person holds the burden of the basic rent. The rents for a one-bedroom for first person ranges around $2800. Usually second person gets charged a starting rate that varies but is usually around $350. Once services with the county start that second person rate gets raised to around $1000. The cost would be different for private pay that goes into assisted, depending on services. If it is a single person that rate would be what the first person rate is as an independent resident. There are also community fees when you move in that are non refundable. Ours was $1500 dollars. All these costs vary in different facilities so what I state are not the case for everyone in every facility. In some cases these costs can be negotiated. Sounds complicated doesn’t it. It is. It is also hard to figure out. One of the first things we should have done and we did, but didn’t ask the right questions because we didn’t know the right questions to ask, was to call Senior Linkage Line. At the beginning of a search for senior housing someone should call Senior Linkage Line, especially in Minnesota, I am not sure about other states but you should inquire and look for similar services. Residents going into a facility need a code from them. The Senior Linkage Line has people to help seniors make the decision as to the type of care needed and where to find it. They also can guide people on resources to pay for senior care. It is an excellent organization. We were guided to this organization by ads we saw on social media. We were told to call by others but…and there’s where it hangs but… we did not know we would need the code. We did not know they could actually guide us through the process. We asked for information but did not know we could actually use the line to help us make our decision by gathering more information. We didn’t find out we needed that code until after we signed the contract. In fact, when I called the linkage line for our code they said, “This is after the fact. You needed this code before you signed a contract so we could make sure this was the best fit for you.” Who knew? We didn’t. To be fair, maybe somewhere along the line we might have been told this, but when you are in a situation where you don’t want to leave your home, and you are tired and stressed, your thinking processes are affected. In hindsight we should have used this service and we should have had a lawyer look over the contract. Our kids helped us a great deal and as knowledgeable as they are, they are not experts in elderly living contracts, so many problems occurred after we signed our contract because we did not fully understand it. Now you know a little of our story. On a side note, we moved my husband into memory care this week and that is an entirely different story to save for later. Senior Linkage Line is a starting point. Visit the site. Take your time. There is so much information on the website. Soon I will have a page set up with this link and others. Call them. The more informed you are the better decision you will make and always involve your family.