Monthly expenses will be
significantly lower than those of nursing homes, perhaps as much as $1000 less each month.
Eldercare facilities that offer
"aging in place" provide a double benefit. You reap the cost savings associated
with lower levels of care, and your elder can relax, protected from the stresses of a
future major move.
Look for care provided by
Our research shows that, on average,
nursing homes run by nonprofit organizations have about 1/3 fewer deficiencies than homes
run by for-profit organizations. Homes run by large corporations, especially those that
manage many facilities, have the greatest average number of deficiencies. By finding a
nonprofit facility that provides suitable care, you could save thousands of dollars over
the course of a year. And your elder may get better care.
A word of caution: I do not mean to
imply that all nonprofit organizations provide good care or that all corporate homes offer
poor care. It depends on the particular organization. Once you have visited a specific
facility several times you'll have a reasonably accurate evaluation of the quality of care
Slash the Costs of Prescription
In two previous articles, I
discussed how elders can cut their costs for prescription medications. Your saving can
mount into thousands of dollars each year if you use only one or two of these tactics.
Let's briefly review a few:
1. Ask your doctor for generic
2. Order brand-name prescriptions from out-of-the-country pharmacies, notably those in
3. Use Pillbot (http://www.pillbot.com)
to find the least expensive prices in US pharmacies.
4. Apply for reduced-cost or free medications. Pharmaceutical companies often have
programs that provide reduced-cost or free prescriptions available to elders who cannot
afford them otherwise. Ask your doctor whether such programs are available for the
prescriptions your elder needs.
Ask Retailers for Discounts for Senior Citizens
Many businesses routinely offer
discounts for senior citizens, but you may not know that such discounts exist unless you
ask for them.
Do compare senior discounts with
sale prices, especially for air travel. It is not unusual to find that sale prices are
lower than the discounted price.
Take advantage of end-of-season
Buy clothing, including sleepwear,
casual wear, shoes, and coats, at significant savings at the end of the current retail
season. If your elder needs adaptive clothing, look for the websites that feature specials
Use public services
Libraries - It may be quicker and easier to drop by your local bookshop for the
latest best-seller, but it's cheaper to borrow it from your local library. It's also a big
advantage to be able to return the book to someone else's shelves once it has been read.
Elder housing usually lacks plentiful storage space.
- Elder Americans are no different from Americans in any other age group. They want their
own transportation, available immediately, and they prize the independence that an
automobile represents. But, the costs of ownership, insurance, licensing, and property
taxes may not be justified for an elder who no longer drives routinely. If you can
persuade your elder to forgo car ownership, you may save as much as two hundred dollars
Many public transportation
authorities provide door-to-door, cost-saving rides for elderly and disabled people. If
your elder lives in a retirement community, some transportation will be included in the
monthly rental. Special fees may apply for transportation to special events, but having
alternative transportation available may help you build a solid case for your elder to
give up the car ownership.
Senior centers -
Senior centers offer companionship and a variety of activities at little or no cost. Check
to see what your local senior center has that might interest your elder.
Avoid the hidden costs of long-term care
Assessments - Most
elder care facilities require assessments. Such assessments usually take place before the
elder becomes a resident and are repeated periodically or following a serious illness or
accident. Fees for most assessments range between $300 and $500. Sometimes, a doctor's
assessment can substitute for the facility's assessment.
You'll save money when you're alert
to hefty assessment fees, a few costing upwards of one thousand dollars. Such fees fit
neatly into the category of "hidden costs."
A crafty variation is the practice
of performing initial assessments 30 days after the elder becomes a resident. If you
question this practice, you'll probably hear that an assessment would not be accurate
until the elder has settled fully into his new home. Watch out!
Most facilities will allow you to
terminate your elder's lease without penalty within the first 30 days of residency.
However, if the assessment increases the monthly fees substantially (a likely outcome),
you won't know about it until after you're locked into a contract. Often, by terminating a
lease after 30 days you lay yourself open to sizable penalties.
Pharmacy Costs - A new
twist in hidden costs is a facility's demand that medications be packaged in single dose
packets. If you thought prescription costs were already high, get ready for heart-stopping
sticker-shock when you see the prices for individually packaged doses. This requirement
can add as much as six thousand dollars each year to your long-term care costs. Ask
specifically about this practice before you sign a contract.
Fees and Deposits -
Fees are recurring charges for monthly services, while deposits are sums held by the
property owner to protect against potential damages. Pets, smokers, and wheelchair/cart
users can damage a property, so charging fees or deposits in these special circumstances
Not so reasonable, however, is the
practice of charging both fees and deposits. It amounts to another hidden cost that you
Don't allow the simplicity of these
tactics to mislead you. While they are simple to carry out, the savings they create could
amount to tens of thousands of dollars every year.
(excerpted from Chapter 4 of "How
to find Great Senior Housing: A Roadmap for Elders and Those Who Love Them")
Phyllis Staff, Ph.D. has 25 years of
experience in organizational design, development, and evaluation. She has worked for major
corporations including IBM, American Express, and EDS. She is the CEO of The Best Is Yet.net, a company that
provide clients with independent, unbiased ratings, of
retirement communities and nursing homes. She is the author of "How
to find Great Senior Housing: A Roadmap for Elders and Those Who Love Them".