Sally Smith: Welcome to Age to Age. I’m Sally Smith. Let’s talk.
With us today is Paul Franklin, the very knowledgeable Chairman of Aging
in Place, an organization dedicated to helping people stay in their own
homes. And, as it says, age in place, if
that is what they want. It’s a fantastic
organization with thirty-three pages of resources, and growing every day. It’s been fun to hear about, Paul.
One of the things that I’ve loved reading in your literature are
these five points, Aging in Place connections, that are sort of the five major
points that you feel need to be covered:
healthy living, livable homes,
financial and legal, supportive relationships, and the all important,
transportation. We’ve talked about
healthy living and livable homes, I’d like to know your capsule version,
although I know it’s a very complicated subject and needs more time at a later
date, what are the key points of financial and legal health?
Paul Franklin: Great
question. You need to be thinking about,
where are the resources going to come from in order to pay for a lot of the
services that you’re going to need as you age in place? I mean, if you want to remodel your house,
for example, to accommodate your change in circumstances, or maybe some members
of the family, or other people, that come and visit you, and your home is
really not accessible like it should be.
You have to spend some resources sometimes in order to accommodate
those kinds of changes. And, you know,
some of that can be rather expensive when you start moving walls and putting in
lifts, and things of that nature. So
it’s important to think about your financial situation and try to figure out
where the money is going to come from.
For example, if something happens and you need care in the home, do you
have resources that you can tap into to pay for home healthcare, people that
could come in and help you dress and bathe, and feed, and that sort of thing,
if you needed it?
It’s one of those things that you have to think about in advance
and plan for. If you think about it in
advance, you can plan for it through long-term care insurance, which, many
times today, will cover homecare. It will
cover assisted living, and it will cover skilled care. In other words, it’s a pool of money that you
could tap into to utilize for any of those needs that you might have.
Another thing that you might do, to tap into resources, let’s say
that you’re not eligible for insurance, let’s say you’re uninsurable for
whatever reason, you may have to tap into the asset that’s in your home, or the
equity there, in terms of a reverse mortgage.
This is a federal housing administration program that was signed by
President Reagan in 1988, and the first ones went into effect in 1989. It came about because seniors said, look, we have paid for our home but, because
of increased taxes and home owner’s insurance, and upkeep on the home, plus
medication, we’re being driven out of our homes and we want to stay here, what
can you do to help? So, this was the
answer for people to try to help tap into some of that equity to use it for
their current needs.
Sally Smith: So, in that
particular scenario, you get a loan on your house and, at the end of the day,
you either come up with the money to pay that back, in some form or fashion, or
they get the house? You get to live
there, but you’re really kind of, it’s like rent-to-buy, I mean, they’re going
to end up with the house?
Paul Franklin: You know,
that’s a misconception a lot of people have.
It’s really no different than a forward
mortgage. In other words, there’s a
mortgage on the house, and it can be paid back, you know, at the end of the
day, when you sell the home, or whatever.
But the title never changes.
People think that you give up title to the home, but that’s not the
Sally Smith: So, the only
way you give up title on the home is if you default, and that’s basically the
backup mode, just like it is for a regular mortgage?
Paul Franklin: Right,
except for the reverse mortgage, of course, there are no payments. The whole idea is the bank is paying
you. There are no payments, so there’s
no way that you can really default, unless you violate one of the conditions,
which, basically, requires you to pay your property taxes and your home owner’s
insurance, and that you live in your home.
Those are the three requirements.
There are some other things that I think are very important for
people that we see all the time, and that is having their legal documents
intact. By that, I’m talking about a
medical directive, making sure that the things that happen to you, if you do
need care in a hospital, everyone is aware of what your wishes are. The second thing that I think is very
important, of course, is a will, so that you know about what’s going to happen
with your estate. I can assure you, I’ve
run into many cases where people didn’t have a will and, guess what, the state
has one for you.
Sally Smith: If you can’t
decide what to do, they will, right?
Paul Franklin: That’s exactly
right. And it may not be anywhere close
to what you had in mind, so it’s very important to have a will. The other thing that’s really important is
durable power of attorney. Let’s say, if
you’re incapacitated, you haven’t died but you’re incapacitated, your power of
attorney can come and help make sure that the bills get paid and that your
financial life stays intact while you’re incapacitated. So, those are three key documents that
Sally Smith: Well, I think
it’s interesting, too, to realize that they sound academic and overwhelming,
when you think about it, but they’re actually very simple to achieve. And the thing that’s interesting to me is
they’re not all that expensive, and it just saves untold wear, tear and
money. And, in the case of my father,
when he began to slip, and then mother was already slipping too, those
documents were already there. They had
been made. They just sat there. Nobody needed them for years, but they sat
there. And the day we did need them, it
wasn’t like we suddenly had to figure out how to get them and how to make it
happen when they were no longer playing from a full deck. It’s like an ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure.
Our 18-year-old has assigned healthcare power of attorney, because
once you’re 18, your mother cannot say, hey,
you know, they’re on life support and I want to unplug it. Those things, they’re so easy to go ahead and
get, and they last a lifetime, unless you want to change them, and that’s not
Paul Franklin: Look, the
bottom line is, really, it gives you options.
If you have these things in place, you have a lot of options available
to you. Plus, it takes the worry
out. You know, you’ve planned, so you
know what’s going to happen. If certain
situations take place, you’re prepared, and that gives you a lot of peace of
Sally Smith: You know,
another thing you mentioned, being uninsurable, I’ve heard of some people who
are uninsurable, they have, basically, self-insured. And, by that, I mean that they have
recognized that at some point that asset might have to be sold. They might not love it, but that asset may
have to be sold. Just thinking ahead to
scenarios can sometimes ease the way.
Now, where does the government come in here, Medicaid, Medicare, all
Paul Franklin: Basically,
Medicaid, of course, comes in if you’re broke.
That’s, basically, what the situation has to be. You have to, basically, not have any
financial resources in order to qualify for Medicaid. It’s basically welfare. Medicare, of course, is the health insurance
that you have. And that’s something that
we all participate in at age 65. And I
would say that it’s important for seniors to also have Medicare supplements,
something to back up and to supplement what Medicare doesn’t pay for.
Sally Smith: So, it’s 65,
Paul Franklin: Medicare,
Sally Smith: So, even if
you’re uninsurable, you still get Medicare?
Paul Franklin: Yeah,
Medicare, at age 65, you’re going to get it, right.
Sally Smith: Yeah. Wow.
And there are people in your resources, and I know we’ve spoken to a
gentleman, that focus on the legal documents for people that are making this
kind of decision, just as geriatric doctors focus on aging, older, patients?
This is well documented, and you can find these people right here in Charleston?
Paul Franklin: There’s a
specialty called elder law.
Sally Smith: Elder law?
Paul Franklin: Elder law is
the specialty, and there are several good elder law attorneys in the area that
we would certainly recommend that people go see.
Sally Smith: We’ve had one,
Paul Franklin: Yes.
Sally Smith: He spoke in
our podcast about these certain documents and, the all important where you keep
them and who gets them, and all that sort of thing. But, no question, this is just something
that’s so pivotal to a really smart plan.
So, I thank you for going over that with us, Paul.
Paul Franklin: My pleasure.
Sally Smith: And thanks to
all of our listeners for joining us today.
We welcome your suggestions. This
is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying
good-bye and wishing you courage and joy on your journey. We are all connected.
If you enjoy
listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle. It’s the story of how she personally
responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with
a parent with dementia. Just click on
Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home
page. All profits support research at
the Center on Aging. Thanks.