SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 93-year-old Catherine Maus and her 99-year-old sister Mary make themselves at home at Allied Terrace Assisted Living. The Dunmore natives moved into the long-term care facility in Scranton several weeks ago after experiencing health setbacks. “This is the best thing for them here because we cannot take care of them,” said Jerry Maus who is Catherine’s son.
For many families strained trying to properly look after their aging loved ones while juggling work and other family responsibilities, long-term care becomes the solution to the aging dilemma. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. “It’s a difficult decision. You know you take them out of their environment. They’ve been living in their homes all their lives,” said Mr. Maus.
Families are often reluctant to have the discussion about long-term care. “Many times they’re in denial because of the many issues you run into. Mom and dad are comfortable. Mom and dad are right down the street. Mom and dad don’t want to do this,” said Allied Services Assistant Vice President of Admissions and Case Management Kathy Stella. She frequently receives calls from concerned families of aging loved ones who’ve exhibited a physical or cognitive decline.
Some of those aging individuals suffer injuries or other health setbacks and require a stay in a transitional rehabilitation unit. Allied Transitional Rehab Unit Administrator Jim Cooney said, “We are evaluating things like patients’ needs for assistance with activities of daily living, how much physical or occupational or speech therapy they may need and what the likelihood is that they will be able to return to the community after they receive our services.”
Some will return home perhaps requiring outpatient services or having their home retrofitted to make living alone possible. But for many others, it’s just not an option and instead become part of the roughly $450 billion dollar a year long-term care industry in America. Ms. Stella said, “If somebody is independent and just needs minimum assistance maybe they need a little bit of help just transferring… something of that nature then certainly they would be somebody that might be eligible for an assisted living.” Allied Terrace Assisted Living Administrator Francisco “Paco” Peters said, “They continue to obtain the medical and ancillary services that they need but yet they’re in a much more home environment.”
The dilemma facing many families in choosing assisted living involves money. In order to live in a such place, you must have the independent financial resources. Rooms at many assisted living facilities can cost thousands of dollars monthly all out of pocket. “It’s a business. You can’t divorce the business aspect of health care from the mission statement,” said Mr. Peters.
For all other long-term care costs, it’s all about insurance. Medicare covers skilled care for individuals 65 and older but only for a matter of weeks. After that, some individuals use private insurance to cover their long-term care living needs. Many more with low income or limited resources will turn to Medicaid but you cannot exceed a certain income or asset level and you must make a minor contribution from whatever monthly income you have.
Mr. Maus who recently retired following a career in the insurance industry said we should all financially plan for long-term care which is an inevitability for three out of every four Americans. “Make sure they save enough and start early. And if you can do that you also want to put some money away for the elderly care that you’re going to be needing in those years. You just don’t know,” he said.
Experts also recommend you tour a long-term facility before sending an aging loved one there to live. They also advise families have discussions about long-term care long before it may be needed.