Thao says many elders may find more comfort in staying in their own residence instead of moving as they are already attached and used to their home. However, there are many aspects of aging in place to consider and research, first.
According to Thao, there are many devices, like watches, that make it convenient to call a family member or an emergency number should one experience an injury. There are also many gadgets and apps to remind people to take their medication or cameras to install in one’s home so family members can check in. Home modifications should also be made to prevent falls or improve accessibility for handicapped people, like ensuring rugs are flat, there are bars in the bathtub to hold on to, and hallways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
How does one protect themselves financially? Unfortunately, a large majority of financial fraud victims are senior citizens. Thao says it is imperative that elders do not answer the phone if they do not recognize the phone number. Scammers usually use false emotional scenarios to trick victims into sending money. Family members should also be prudent and keep an eye out for signs of financial fraud, like missing bank statements or belongings.
Another aspect of aging in place to consider is hiring a caregiver. It is important to understand Medicare only covers medical costs like hospital bills- it does not cover the cost of caregiving, like hiring in-home assistance after an injury or surgery. Thao says hiring a licensed professional or a caregiving agency may be expensive but is a safer option than hiring someone who is not licensed and doesn’t have proper insurance. Thao also reminds listeners to ask loved ones for help, as caregiving takes a village and should not fall solely on the elders themselves or just one family member.
Watch previous episodes of The Financial Commute:
Hello, everybody, and thank you for joining us for another episode of The Financial Commute. I'm your host, Chris Galeski, joined by Client Manager Thao Truong. Thao is a Certified Financial Planner and a key element to a group within Morton that helps empower women become better investors. This group is called Herself and recently they just went through a deep dive about aging in place.
Something that we talk to our clients and our loved ones about often. So aging in place is not going to a senior care facility, but maybe being more comfortable in staying at home. And there's some key takeaways that people should be aware of. Some pros and cons, some challenges that they may face. I know that, you know, senior care or senior living facilities can often be expensive.
And if you didn't do the proper planning of buying long term care many, many years ago, you might get to a place where you can't afford senior living. So people are maybe choosing the age in place by default. But there's some risk to that, right?
So, I mean, also like staying at your own home, it brings comfort. Yeah. So people are so used to living at that place for 10, 20 years, 30 years or however long that is. They just don’t want to leave anymore.
So that's a good point. That's a good point.
It's not just about affordability, it's also about comfort.
Thank you for bringing that up. You know, because I, I guess we talk to so many clients and there's so many different perspectives. Some people have two story homes and they just say, oh, I'm not going to stay here. And some people have single story homes that are maybe, you know, easier for them to age in place and they're more comfortable and they say, you know what? I would as much as possible like to stay here.
I mean, that's where they build all the memories and everything. So they just want to be there. There are more and more people now aging and want to be at home, but then it comes with risk and responsibility. What are some of the steps that you can do to help your living at home be comfortable and safe so that you can thrive and, you know, continue to be motivated and living your life at the best.
So yeah, then tell me, what are some of those things that people should consider when they want to stay at home and age in place? You know, I hear a lot of clients and even family members myself saying, you know, I don't want to be a burden on my family. You know, hopefully they don't get to a point where they need a lot of help or care.
But if they do, they don't want to be a burden on their family. So what are some things that people should do to protect themselves?
There are actually a lot of things that you can do and use to help you out. So there are electrical devices that you can use and it could be a watch or it could be something on your phone or it could be something that you can wear on your neck. I think people don’t like the device that you wear on your neck.
Yeah, but I mean, like, they can make it very fashionable nowadays that like it looks like a watch, but then there's also a button that let's say that you fall or something. You can easily press a button and you can set it up so that instead of calling 911 right away, it can call your person that you most trust like your daughter or your son who live a couple house down the road so that it can come and take care of you and make a decision whether they should call 911 or not.
So that, you know, be convenient on both sides. Sure.
Which that's a big key because, I mean, maybe these devices, they're really good, but you don't want them to accidentally call 911.
It might be a situation where it calls your friend, your neighbor or your family member and you answer the phone and say, yes, I did fall, but I'm actually okay.
And so it's not as big of an emergency.
Right. Right. And then it also reminds you to take your medicine as well or like have a to do list so that you can just check it, like check the box and just like, don't have to think about whether I take my medicine this morning or not already. You can just look at it and check it off yourself.
And you, you remind yourself that way. Yeah. And then you can also implement like cameras in your house. But then, you know, it really depends on how much privacy you want to share with your family members. But there's a lot of things that you can do. In fact, like in our event, we have a full list of recommendations on health devices that you can use.
I mean, we can make it available for people.
Yeah, that'd be great.
Yeah. And then beside that, like, we also talk about home modification.
Okay. Tell me a little bit more about home modification. Like my grandmother. She's getting up there. Sorry, Grandma, but she's going to be, she's 89 years old this year. We do have ring cameras on the front at the front of the house and the back. And so I can see every day if she's in or out of the house.
And, you know, that helps me know that, you know, she's good or she's taken care of. What other home modifications should people be thinking of?
There, again, this is also another thing that it can be a very extensive list of things, but like very high level, like very easy things that you can implement are like pay attention to the rugs at home. Like if it is easy to roll up or, you know, like that, cause you slipping over and fall, but make sure that it's more transitional or room to room transition, you know, like if it can be smooth like that, you can go through with a wheelchair easier or like the bathroom don't have that stepping up, like where you have to walk over that, stepping to go into the bathroom or maybe like implementing some grabbing bars or using shelf that is like stick to the wall and it can be stable and secure that you don't worry about like hitting it and then slamming it over.
Maybe easy access.
You also mentioned to me that I thought this was a really good one, paying attention to, you know, chairs or tables that have wheels and that can move easily and that can be a real hazard because maybe somebody tries to put their hand on it and brace themselves.
Or trying to get up and hold on to a chair and then just have the rolling wheel and then they may just like, fall over. You know, so the more stay stable is, the better.
Yeah, I thought that that was a great list. Now, oftentimes when I think about, you know, family members or people that are aging and maybe they're by themselves, they don't have family members nearby. They haven't hired anybody professionally, how do they protect themselves from other types of fraud, whether it's on the Internet or computers or how do they really find the right people to help come in?
Right. So at our event, we have a district attorney coming in and they work very hard on helping seniors and protect them from financial fraud. So one of the things that people bring up is that these frauders, they work on your emotion. So they will give you a sense of urgency that like, hey, I need this money, like very urgent and they know to tap into your emotion and how do they bring it up? They talk about your family member or they pretend to be like your family members, like getting into some weird, you know, like incidents in Mexico or something. Like you mentioned, if you are at work and let's say your niece, somebody call you and like, hey, Chris, your niece is in Mexico right now and she get into like an accident and she's in jail. And in order to take her out, you have to pay $100,000 to bail her out. What would you do? Like when you are in that age.
I’d feel pretty torn. And especially, you know, a lot of this stuff. We most of us get these phishing emails and you can see the missed the typos or the misspellings. And, you know, you can you can pass it off as potentially phishing or fraud. But this catches a lot of people.
Right. Right. So, like, biggest take away from that is don't ever answer any phone call that you don't know. You don't recognize them. If there is anything important, they can always leave a voicemail. But make sure your voice mailbox is clear and it's not full, you know, don’t miss out on the important call. Sure. And then if you are a family member, one way to spot out if there is something wrong with that third party care provider is notice on whether they just accidentally or like, you know, like coming out and living a lavish life and having like an expensive handbag from out of nowhere.
Or if you see your parents at home having missing financial statement, those are those red flags that you can pay attention to.
Got it. So if you've hired somebody to come in the house, then all of a sudden maybe bank statements are missing or...
Bills not getting paid or you think that these utility bills has been paid, but it's not. And they receive a late statement. You know, then those are very, very easy spot that like easy thing that you can spot out.
Yeah, that's helpful. And so when people are making the decision to either have a family member or a friend or even hire a third party to help take care of them versus an actual professional service, what are the pros and cons between those? What are the things that people should be looking out for?
Yeah, like caregiving nowadays, very expensive. As you already know, I think the cost is about $30 to $45 an hour. Yeah, and sometimes people may need like 2 or 3 hours a day. Some people may want a live in person. So I think the number I read recently is on average, people can easily spend around $10,000 to $20,000 a month for caregiving.
So because of that, one of the easy choice is to either ask your family member or hire anybody from, let's say, the newspaper. That person may not be licensed or like may not be a practiced practitioner.
Yeah. Yeah. And that is cheap, right? But then on the flip side of that, they are not licensed and then you don't want to burden your family member really much either, right? Because they may be working, they may have other responsibility that they have to take care of as well. So then the other choice of that is to hire a licensed professional caregiver.
So the good side of this is that they are very well protected. They have insurance, they are bonded, and they have proper background check and training so that when you bring in this person, you know for sure that you are not bringing anybody that is not like, you know, like a criminal that may put you at risk for financial fraud again.
Right. And they know to say no to you. They not going to be going out of the way. And just to make you feel place of like let's say like you want that person to help you move a heavy, big planter like that. And that's not something that they usually do in terms of the proper things. But because they want to keep you happy, they may move that and hurt their back, you don’t have proper worker’s comp that and they can come back and sue you.
Yeah I think that's I think that's some really good points because sometimes it's not that we're trying to take shortcuts, but, you know, we don't realize the type of care that we need and the risk that we are putting ourselves in by not potentially hiring a professional. Right. And so hiring a professional, you get proper training, background checks.
They've got insurance to help protect themselves and you in case something were to happen and you're not taking on the financial ramifications of if something were to go wrong by not hiring a professional, them coming back after.
And suing you for, you know, not a great work environment, but there's many different forms of care that people need. And sometimes there's a number of different acts of daily living that you might need help with. And so you might not want to be a burden to your family members, but you also want to make sure that you've got professionals that can help you with those different things, right?
Yeah. Yeah. A lot of times people think that their medical insurance or Medicare would pay for that. Yeah, but that's not the case, right? Let's say that if you get into an accident, you go to the hospital, Medicare will pay for the ambulance, come pick you up. The hospital or, you know, therapy or physical therapy after that. But once you are home, let's say that you still need help with like dressing, bathing, grooming.
Cooking your meal.
Cooking a meal, or taking care of your pets, you know, like changing the litter box, for example, those are not being paid by Medicare. You have to pay it out of your pocket or let's say hopefully you have a long term care to help you out with that. Sure. But yeah...
And the cost of medical care has gone up. You know, so much with inflation. I mean, I think medical costs, the average inflation over the past 10 to 20 years, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8%. So it's definitely getting more expensive. But people taking a look at how they're protecting themselves, their loved ones, and making sure that they've got the right help in place when those things come about.
And you need a whole village to help you out with that. So don't just think that you can do it all by yourself. You can always ask your family member to come and help you out. Like, simple thing, like decluttering your house too. Like sometimes you may have a bunch of little canned food in your cabinet that maybe expired ten years ago that you don't even know of.
Have you been in my pantry?
No. But I know of like, you know, my grandparents, for example, when they get older, they cannot really see things that clear any more. So of course, they don't see that expiration date. So it can become a fun project for the grandkids to come over and help you out and clean that out so that you don't get poisoned for picking on the wrong things.
So I think that's great. Any other big takeaways from, you know, having the speaker come in and talk about aging in place that can help set our clients or people that are listening up for success?
Plan early and try to make your house as transitional as possible. Less things like minimize it, you know, less things in the middle of the way so that you can move in and out easier and you don't trip over and fall. Stable things to grab on to, know that there are difference between medical care and caregiving. You have to build up your financial for that regardless of the choice.
You know, whether you use your personal person or you use a professional choice. Like you say, cost of care is getting more expensive, so you really have to plan early. Yeah, yeah. There's technology that you can use and also really be careful of financial fraud as well.
Yeah, I think that's those are some really good takeaways. Thao, thank you so much for joining us today and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Of course. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah.
Information presented herein is for discussion and illustrative purposes only. The views and opinions expressed by the speakers are as of the date of the recording and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be relied on as financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult with your financial, legal, and tax professionals before implementing any transactions and/or strategies concerning your finances.