Finding the best old folks home for your folks

In a recent post, I interviewed Pamala Temple, co-founder of A Place for Mom, a service designed to search for the best living quarters for elderly people.

Ms. Temple was such a wealth of information, I decided I'd have to two posts. If you and your parents have limited finances but are determined to find a good and possibly great nursing home, assisted living or some other venue, maybe the following advice will help. And, of course, you can always directly contact A Place for Mom, which does, yes, help out fathers, too. It's free, and they have a vast network of elder care advisers across the country.

Piece of advice #1: Pamala Temple says that there are four major government programs that everyone should be looking at to see if your parents are eligible for: Medicare, Medicaid, the PACE program and Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit Program.Piece of advice #2: "It may be possible to borrow against a life insurance policy for the specific purpose of applying the funds to long term care costs," says Temple. "The payout arrangements can vary in amount and whether it's a lump sum or monthly payments. You may not get the full value of the policy, and there may be tax implications, so weigh the costs and benefits when making such a decision."

Piece of advice #3: Reverse mortgages, suggests Temple, which are available to people 62 and older in the United States. That is where you get your home equity in the property as "one lump sum or multiple payments," says Temple. "The home owner's obligation to repay the loan is deferred until the owner dies or the home is sold."

Piece of advice #4: Temple suggests checking out Elderlife Financial, a company offering loans to pay for the costs of senior care.

Piece of advice #5: Long-term care insurance, says Temple. It can help to offset the costs of care, but she really suggests the grown children get it for themselves. "The younger and healthier you are, the lower the premium will be."

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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