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A Senior Care Consultant Responds to the Senior Care Crisis

We are certainly facing a senior care crisis. Our expert answers your questions below.
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By Mark Colgan, CFP

Caring for an aging family member in 2023 comes with many new challenges. The pandemic caused mayhem across senior living communities in the United States, including a lack of staff, who are stretched thin, increased costs for assisted living facilities, and more. Seniors move into senior care communities for several reasons such as socialization, activities, and a safe place to live. During the COVID-19 outbreak, senior citizens were forced into isolation, either in their rooms in facilities or in their own homes, since they were the most susceptible to sickness and suffering significant problems or death.

Mark Colgan, CFP®, is a founding partner of Montage Wealth Management. Over the last 29 years he has helped hundreds of clients navigate through significant life events that require big money decisions. He is also the author of Death’s Red Tape, your Guide for Navigating Legal, Financial, and Personal Transitions When a Partner Dies,  a newly released technical guide by Mark Colgan on the logistics people have to contend with after they lose a loved one. For more information visit www.montagewealthmanagement.com.

Mark Colgan

Those responsible for deciding on the care their aging family member receives are faced with new problems. They must decide if their family member is better off living independently with visits from healthcare aides, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Assisted living facilities come with more freedom and social activities, while a nursing home is more medically focused with nursing staff. There are costs and confusing jargon involved with each. The senior care crisis may seem bleak, however, there is a possibility for the industry to reevaluate and make changes.

A Senior Care Consultant Responds to the Senior Care Crisis

Laurie Miraglia is a senior care consultant and the owner of Senior’s Choice Care Management. I interviewed her for her recommendations for loved ones facing the senior care crisis.

Q: What can you do before moving an elderly family member into an assisted living facility?

A: Ensure a comprehensive team is in place before needs arise. This would include the primary care doctor, a geriatric doctor or neurologist, a specialist for any unique needs, a financial planner, and an attorney. Ideally, one would also have a geriatric care manager to assist with obtaining care, finding a suitable facility, doing paperwork, and facilitating transportation.

Q: How can you determine which facility is the best option?

A: It is not as easy as finding out their ratings online. Start with an internet search and look at metrics such as the nurse-to-patient ratio, how many RNs or LPNs are on each floor, and how many patients they serve. For a thorough assessment, partnering with a geriatric care manager with local knowledge will be invaluable. They can also be your advocate to negotiate pricing and walk you through the process.

For instance, sometimes people get a quick “no,” which simply means “no…not as they see it.” However, if things are explained within context, their answer may change to a “yes.” Finally, one should personally visit the home/facility, consider the feel of it, observe how tenants are being cared for, try the food and listen to what people say word of mouth.


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Q: How might the facilities improve their services and reputation?

A: Many facilities struggle with recruiting and retaining good healthcare aides. To increase the likelihood of doing so, they should consider paying them more, providing employee benefits, and especially not overworking them. Many healthcare aids receive as little as $15 an hour for their hard work, which is not enough for them to sustain a living with inflation. As a result, many are “going private” to collect $25 an hour directly from the patient.

Q: Does it make sense to stay home as long as possible?

A: One common risk is that people get comfortable at home and want 24/7 care. The issue is that if one waits too long, the incredible cost of personal healthcare aides may [amount] to big bills, depleting savings to the point that they no longer qualify for a nursing home. In other words, procrastination can unintentionally disqualify them from being private-pay candidates.

Keep in mind that nursing homes are for-profit organizations. While they may say that they take Medicaid patients, they are likely to prefer someone with private pay. The facility collects about half of what they would for a private pay patient. For instance, a Medicare patient may pay $7,000 a month while a private pay would pay $14,000 per month. If this happens, the facility they want to go to may not be an option.

Q: How might one avoid a negative scenario?

A: To prepare for all of this, it is encouraged that people have an open dialogue as they are aging in place. Planning for what is likely to occur in the coming years is more manageable than planning for an immediate need. People think more logically than emotionally. Additionally, it is smart to have a backup plan if your solution doesn’t pan out.

To Conclude

We are certainly facing a senior care crisis. Visitations have been limited, depression and loneliness have set in, the employees are stretched thin mentally and physically, and the cost of senior housing has gone up. However, there are possible solutions for all the problems seniors, healthcare workers, and family members face. A more robust compensation package and providing the employees with the tools they need to thrive at their job would be an excellent start.

Being financially prepared for your future is imperative as well. The cost of senior living is likely never to come down. Plan ahead so that when you become elderly, you can have a comfortable place to live and not rely on your adult children to provide for you.

About the author: Mark Colgan

Mark Colgan, CFP®, is a founding partner of Montage Wealth Management. Over the last 29 years, he has helped hundreds of clients navigate significant life events requiring big money decisions. He is also the author of Death’s Red Tape, Your Guide for Navigating Legal, Financial, and Personal Transitions When a Partner Dies, a newly released technical guide by Mark Colgan on the logistics people have to contend with after they lose a loved one. For more information, visit www.montagewealthmanagement.com.


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