Don’t Let Your Parents Run Out of Money for Care (with transcript)
Dale Drury is with Senior Care Services Group and has been navigating senior’s financial care for 10 years. He assists the senior community with health and wealth preservation and protection. His joy is helping families achieve peace of mind when they no longer have to worry about their parent’s money running out.
Frank Samson: Welcome to Boomers Today. I'm your host, Frank Samson. Each week we bring you important, useful information on issues facing Baby Boomers, their parents and other loved ones. Today we have with us Dale Drury, head of the Senior Care Services Group. Dale has been navigating seniors financial care for 10 years. He assists the senior community with health and wealth preservation and protection. His joy is helping families achieve peace of mind when they no longer have to worry about their parent's money running out. Dale, thank you so much for joining us on Boomers Today.
Dale Drury: Thank you for having me, Frank.
Frank: Your service I think is quite unique in that you're not selling any products to families – you’re more providing them with advice. You're selling them your knowledge, which is wonderful. So I'd love to learn more. What was the catalyst of you getting into this field, and what exactly is it that you do?
Dale: I started in this field with an experience that happened in my life many years ago. In 1997, my wife and I had been married almost 15 years and we had two boys that were eight and four. We had our whole future lined up: we were spouses, friends, and even went into business together. Then one day she got a headache, and after a couple of days she started to throw up. We thought she might have the flu.
I took her to the doctor and the doctor tested her for meningitis and wrote some prescriptions. We came back a couple of days later and she was no better. And so they said, "We'd like to get a picture, a CAT scan." After the CAT scan the doctor said, "I have some news that's going to be hard to take, but we found a tumor on the CAT scan and I'm not a neurosurgeon. I've called one but it doesn't look very good. It looks like a rather large tumor."
And I don't know if it was the news or it was the fact that she hadn't eaten or drank in days, but her eyes rolled back in her head and my wife passed out. She was taken to ICU and they said, "If you'll just wait, the doctor will be with you as soon as he can." And I waited and waited and after a little while the doctor showed up. He said, "Are you, Mr. Drury?" And I said, "yes." He goes, "I'm the doctor here. I want to show you the CAT scan. I won’t know for sure until I do a biopsy, but from my expertise and experience, it looks like a glioblastoma. And the most important thing for us right now is to make your wife as comfortable as possible for the time she has left."
And I said, "What do you mean the time she has left?" And they said, "They didn't tell you this was a fatal tumor?" I said, "No, no one's told me anything." I said, "You mean my wife's going to die?" And he says, "Yes, unfortunately." And I said, "Well, how long does she have?" And he said, "She could have six months up to 18 months, depending on what your treatment options are." It was at that point that I decided I was going to become her primary care provider. But I was torn because this is something I wanted to do but then again, it was something I didn't want to do.
There was so much information that I lacked, that I thought, "If only there was somebody who could come along and explain this whole process to me.” So that led to what I do today because when I meet with a family, I am typically working with one of the kids who's the durable power of attorney for finances and I see the same look on their face that I had, and I say to him, "Look, I've been through this myself." Sometimes I tell them the story, sometimes I don't. "But the thing that I want to make sure is that I'm going to help you through this process. I'm going to help find programs that help pay for your loved one's care and we're going to give you some peace of mind through this whole process.”
Frank: Well, I'm sorry you had to go through all that. If there was any good to come out of it, you probably have helped, I can't imagine how many families with their situation. So as you know, the challenge in our industry, in the senior care industry, is to try to get people to plan. As we know, the chances are pretty high once they hit 65, 70, that they’re going to need some sort of care. In your opinion, how do we get people to plan for this?
Dale: Yes, in fact, I get calls from financial planners because financial planners do a wonderful job of helping people grow their money while they're working and then plan for their retirement years. Of course, everybody creates a will because they want to designate where their stuff goes after they pass on. But not many people have thought about the chance that they could go into long term care between the time they retire to the time that they die.
I like to start by explaining Medicare to people, so that they understand how it works and how there are benefits built into it, depending on each state’s Medicare program. And then also if they spent time in the military and they got a discharge other than a dishonorable discharge, then there's a VA pension that can be sent to the family for that person's care. And that's another 1,000 to $2,000 a month coming in to help the family with expenses.
Frank: And that can be for a surviving spouse as well. It doesn't have to be for the actual veteran. It could be for the spouse of the veteran, correct?
Dale: Yes. Yes, that's correct. There's actually four. There's a married veteran designation, there's a single veteran designation, there's a well veteran ill spouse if the veterans doing pretty good, but the spouse needs care, and then there's a surviving spouse claim. And I'm a former Air Force Officer myself. I went into a Veteran Service Office many years ago and found out about this program.
Frank: Right. If I can paraphrase a little bit, but certainly correct me if I'm wrong, you're guiding families and letting them know the resources are out there to help them in paying for their care. Is that correct or more to it than that?
Dale: Yes, that's correct. And I think when you think about it, most of the time the client is the senior, but I'm not working with the senior themself. I'm mainly working with one of the kids. And in most cases, it's a daughter. She's anywhere from 45 to 65, married, has kids, herself, grandkids, perhaps still working, and she's lying awake at night wondering, "How am I going to get mom's money to last?" So I come alongside that family and say, "Hey, we're going to come up with a plan. We're going to make the unknown become known and we're going to have a plan in place to provide financially for your loved one's care, and we're going to make this money last and we're going to protect property and assets along the way." And that gives that family that peace of mind we're looking for.
Frank: Most people have heard this by now, but in our industry, we hear the term Silver Tsunami thrown around a lot. My personal feeling is that it's just kind of drizzling rain right now. The tsunami hasn't even come close to hitting, and the statistics show it. So my question for you is, is our country ready for what's going to be happening?
Dale: I think there's going to be a big need for the knowledge of how to navigate through this process. Right now the demographics show in our country the fastest-growing age group we have is 90 to 100 years old. My mother, she's 91, she still lives independently at home in Virginia. But when you get up into your 90s things can change very quickly. And that's one of the things I hear from my clients the most is, "I can't believe how fast things changed from being fine to not being fine," and so by having a plan in place that helps.
The state of California has released statistics showing that between today and 2026 the number of Californians 65 and older is expected to climb by 2.1 million. I'm in that category, according to projections by the State Department of Finance. By contrast, the number of 25 to 64-year-olds, which is our kids, is projected to grow by just more than half a million. So you're going to have four times more seniors turning 65 then you will the younger ones turning 25 to 64, so they're going to need help. They're going to need knowledge. They're going to need resources to be able to help their parents.
Frank: So if you're sitting down with that daughter, let's say, or other family members and they're saying, "I'm concerned about my parents, I'm concerned about their money lasting, and I think my mom is having some cognitive issues, maybe some other things going on. What do we do?" I mean, where do you start with a family in that type of situation? What advice do you give them?
Dale: Well, the first thing is to get an idea of where they're at. Find out where the assets, the income that the loved one has. Find out what their present health needs are, and then kind of start a little strategy there as to looking at, "If this scenario happens, we're going to go this direction. If this scenario happens, we go that direction." But also researching the different options that they have. As I mentioned earlier, every state has a different Medicaid program, so it’s important to understand which one applies to the client specifically. It could be traditional Medicaid for health insurance. It could be long-term care Medicaid if they go into a skilled nursing facility. From the time they're at home all the way to a nursing home we want to have the necessary resources that they're going to need to help them through that process.
Frank: So, the good news is we're living longer. Can you talk a little bit about when you have those tough conversations with the kids of the clients, and with the clients themselves? Is there one group that tends to need it more than the other?
Dale: It's definitely more the kids. I would say probably in 90% of the cases I'm working with the kids and not the senior themselves. We want them to know there are options out there and sometimes when you have more than one child involved, you want to make sure that they have durable powers of attorney set up for health care and for finances. And I tell them that it shouldn’t be what they feel is best. It should be, "If my parent was able to make this decision on their own, what decision would they make?" So in essence, you're acting as a agent for that parent.
A lot of people don't have durable powers of attorney, so that's the first thing I have them take care of. After that, we're able to sit down and talk about the next steps involving long term care. The fact that if that loved one has a need for any care at home or if they're going to be placed somewhere, I want to make sure my clients have access to all those resources.
Frank: I think there might be a perception out there with many that once you turn 65 and now you're on Medicare, all your care is paid for, and as you know, that's not true. Can you talk about kind of the cost that people could expect, whether they be in assisted living communities, care at home, nursing. Do you have an idea of when would it be that they have to pay privately and when would it be that maybe they can get some third-party assistance?
Dale: Well with the state’s Medicare program, basically what happens is as we work and we contribute to Social Security, then when we turn age 65 we have a couple of benefits. And one is that I mean, the magic number is when you contribute for 10 years or 40 quarters to Social Security if you're paid, you got a paycheck, FICA's taken out. If you're self-employed, self-employment tax. And when you do that for that period of time it qualifies you for a retirement income through Social Security that you can start collecting at age 62, and they also the ability to participate in the largest group health plan we have in our country, which is Medicare. And then Medicare breaks down into traditional Medicare Part A and Part B and then you have your Medicare Supplements and you have your Medicare Advantages that people get, which hopefully covers some of the out of pocket involved for health insurance.
But then when you start needing care at home and having a care provider come in, you're talking anywhere from 25 to $30 an hour for a care provider to come in and they can assist with your activities of daily living.
If they can't, care providers, as I said, can come for 25 to $30 an hour, but I have some clients that are getting 24/7 care at home and it's close to 18 to $20,000 a month. So when people look at those costs, they go, "Oh, man, that's too expensive for us," or perhaps the doctor has said, "The care needs are such that this person needs to move into a community," so then people will look at residential care facilities or what are also called board and cares and those can run anywhere from 3,500 up to $5,000 a month. Then you have assisted living communities, which are like big hotels with the main dining room and your rooms get taken care for you and you have the activities there. And those can run anywhere from 4 to 5 to 6 to $7,000 a month depending on what somebody's care needs are.
And if memory care gets involved, it gets higher than that. For 50% of us men and 75% of the women will spend their last days, weeks, months in a skilled nursing facility with 24/7 doctor nurse care, what's called custodial care. Those can run anywhere from 10 to $12,000 a month and higher. So it's important for people to know that there are benefits out there, and the state's Medicaid program has a long-term care benefit built into it when someone goes into the nursing home. I like people to be aware of how that works and how they can trigger it.
Frank: All right, so two-part question that we're going to have to, unfortunately, end with, but I'm going to put you on the spot here. So first of all, what would you say most of your clients, are they kind of pre-planning or are they in crisis mode? That's part one. Okay. And then part two is what suggestions you have to people to get them more to preplan versus waiting for a crisis?
Dale: In most cases I would say mine have become crisis-driven because they have a situation that's occurred and they don't know how to handle it and somebody says, "Well, I've got somebody who can help." I would like them to get more involved with pre-planning. Because then we can do all the path-planning in place and when the need arises, set the plan into motion.
I was also going to say, and just to kind of add to that is Assisted Living Waiver Program that they have in different states does allow you to get on Medical or Medicaid in the assisted living facility.
Frank: Right. Yep. Great. So, Dale, unfortunately, we've run out of time, but tell us, how can our listeners get in touch with you?
Dale: I do have a Facebook page, Senior Care Services Group, and you'll know it's my page because you'll see a navigation wheel, a ship's wheel. I also have email firstname.lastname@example.org. That's D-A-L-E-D-R-U-R-Yemail@example.com or they can call or text me at 916-439-0508.
Frank: Great, Dale Drury, Senior Care Services Group. Check it out. Dale, thank you so much for joining us on Boomers Today. Really appreciate it.
Dale: It's been a pleasure, Frank, and I enjoyed talking with you.
Frank: Great. Thank you and thank you, everybody. Just be safe out there. Talk to you all soon.