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Pamala Temple talks about elder care options to Pittsburgh WORD-FM listeners

Click here to listen to the interview. It was aired in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on WORD(fm) on June 18, 2008.

Below please find the transcript of the radio interview mentioned above.

John Hall: Nice to be back with you I'm John Hall. Stephanie Fraschetti..

Stephanie Fraschetti: Howdy.

Hall: Hey how are you?

Fraschetti: I'm doing well, and yourself?

Hall: Perfect. Hey how about these commercials, you've seen them, there's generally two or three elderly people talking, and they're going "hey aren't you glad we don't have to cut the grass anymore", and "you know we're so happy that our kids aren't around anymore", and "you know we're going to go to the movies and we really love this great place that we're living in now because you know everything's taken care of".

Fraschetti: And "what time's the bridge game?"

Hall: Exactly. It looks always like, you know, hunky dory but I don't know if that's such the case. You know when, you know as we are getting older, you know certainly we're aging here which means our parents are aging as well and it's one of those dreaded things, and you think about oh my goodness gracious are we going to have to put mom somewhere?

Fraschetti: Don't say it, don't say the N-word.

Hall: Yeah what about, you know how's dad going to handle this and it's a scary sort of foray into the unknown for everybody. That's why we're so happy to talk to our first guest. Her name is Pam Temple, and she's going to talk to us about taking care of elderly parents. Hey Pam welcome to WORD FM.

Temple: Thank you for having me John.

Hall: It's our pleasure.

Fraschetti: Hi Pam.

Hall: Yeah Pam talk to us about this, what is your interest in the first place, is this first-hand knowledge?

Temple: Well it is and I've been in the industry, the senior housing industry for about twenty years so I've seen many many elderly people come through the various properties. I've actually worked all over the country, in fact I'm originally from Pittsburgh, I live in Seattle now, but have seen different types of elder care all throughout the country and then of course have had my own share of grandparents that I've had to deal with this with and so it's very near and dear to my heart.

Hall: You know it's interesting you use the word "industry" because certainly it is big business isn't it?

Temple: Well yeah there are, you know obviously lots and lots of elderly who need care and you had said quote "the N-word" I kind of got a chuckle out of that, I haven't heard that in a while, but it's true I think a lot of you know families think about the N-word, but there are so many different types of care for the elderly outside of nursing homes, nursing homes are one level of care but there's assisted living, independent living, home care, residential care homes, hospice care, I mean you name it so it truly is an industry just from the breadth of what we do.

Fraschetti: You know I was driving down my old street the other day to where my mom and dad live and I saw an elderly gentleman who has just been there forever and ever and ever with his wife. And God bless him, we used to live down there and he always took care of his lawn and I actually saw somebody cutting his grass the other day and it made me sad because he always cut his own grass. And I thought, is he to the point where he can't take care of that? But sometimes you know a big house and a lawn and all of that it's just hard for folks to take care of that are aging, you know so what are the options and it is usually truly as much of a heart break as it seems it would be for them to lose the house maybe that they raised their family in?

Temple: Yeah you know it starts with that right? It starts with, gee you know the house starts to go down, you know they're not cutting the grass, the gardening's going wrong and for somebody like that, that might be we get them some gardening help for the next couple of years he might be fine. I think every situation is different but when it starts getting into the safety concerns, so that family might have said "gosh you know dad is unstable on his feet and if he's mowing the lawn he might fall and this could really hurt him because w have a big hill" or whatever it might be. So you know when you start with having safety issues I think those really need to be addressed and though it's sometimes sad to think about somebody loosing their independence and getting out of that home, it might be the best thing for their life because they can actually extend their years and truly thrive in another setting where at home they might actually, their quality of life is actually going down. So when you look at the whole picture it is sometimes hard to think of that, that person aging but it might be the best thing for them.

Hall: That's really a good point. An old neighbor of ours before we moved she lived with an aging son and he was not the best caretaker so eventually she moved into a managed care facility, and quite honestly Grace was such a social person that by all accounts she was able to thrive. I mean she was surrounded by like-minded people and was sort of free from the shackles of her son over seeing her life and really had a great another fifteen years of living in this managed care facility. So I guess your point's well taken Pam, that it is a matter of timing, and the right place at the right time. So you know when it's all said and done you know I guess it's based upon the individual person, their health care, their mental concerns, all these different things together to go out and find the right place.

Temple: Absolutely it's very, it's very individualized when you're ready though to go out and find that right place the first thing is to really understand the needs of the parent, right? So in your neighbors case it was hey she's very social, she's always has lots of friends but maybe when her husband died you know some of her friends died there were things, the social situation wasn't there for her any more but that's really important to her. For other people it might be nutrition. Maybe mom's not able to make her meals. Maybe there's some dementia going on and the stove had to be unhooked. So looking at what are truly the parent's needs, are they able to dress themselves? Safely bathe themselves? Once we know what these needs are we can really kind of call that kind of an inventory of what's going on in their life, then we can start working on, okay what's the proper care level that they would be appropriate for and then further, which actual communities would be the right ones to fit their needs and their financial budget?

Fraschetti: You know Pam, in years gone by so many houses were multi-generational and a lot of times you might inherit a big old house that your grandmother lived in, your mother lived in, you live in, and so as your parents get older you know they might stay with you or you might move in with them, but in society today it's not so much like that, a lot of people have townhouse or condo living or are transient and but then when parents begin to age then they're nervous and they think well I'm going to have to deal with a lot of guilt if I have to put either my mother or my father or my grandparents in a nursing home. Should I buy another house? You know how do folks deal with the guilt?

Temple: It is so true that as, we call them adult children, we have this guilt around, you know the parent has always said "I was born in this house, I want to die in this house", or "I'm not leaving" you know, and it's so true and I think the first thing is to understand that the elderly person is dealing with loss, they're dealing with the loss of their independence, they're thinking, many fears are going through their minds so they might be thinking, I always thought all my life when this was going to happen that means I'm going to die. Well we know that moving can actually be a new lease on life. You know the extra fifteen years you get because you're eating right and taking your medications, but they don't know that yet so I think it's starting with asking them questions about why are you fearful of this? You know maybe we don't even completely understand why we're guilty, feeling guilty about this, but I think being able to see through to the other side and being able to talk to other families who have gone through this and said yeah, I had that guilt, here's how I dealt with it, I, you know we had to move my mom and now things are so much better because if you're living with your parent in your home, and I think a lot of caregivers can relate to this, it's such a beautiful thing to be able to say "gosh I'm talking care of my mom in my home", there's a huge downside to it also which is now the relationship can become strained. The person who's taking care of the elderly person will frequently have health problems themselves because my gosh it's hard enough to manage my life and my kids and now I have to manage my mom's care and it is very stressful on families so I think there's some guilt around that, like I should be able to do this but I actually can't, and I just want families to know that happens and that's okay and you know you need to be able to live your life too and a lot of times you'll find these relationships get actually better after there's that moving out of the house, you know because now they can focus on their relationship and not on the issues, you know that are going on with the parent.

Hall: So we're speaking with Pam Temple about taking care of elderly parents. Pam joins us from an organization called Aplaceformoms.com; it's the nation's largest elder care referral service and is an option for families in senior care living guidance choices. Pam, you know, like a lot of parents, grandparents and the greatest generation they've been very, very frugal coming out of the Depression with their money, and they tend to look at their money in a lot of different ways, but then when they go into managed care facilities quickly that money gets eaten up.

Temple: For sure.

Hall: Can you talk to us about that? About how to pay for these long term care services?

Temple: Absolutely, yeah and preparation is key. I think many of the options I've talked about earlier in the show, the independent living, the assisted living, the residential care homes, home care, it's very much a private pay situation where you have to pay privately. And I think you're right, that people frequently feel like gee I don't have a lot of money for this. They sometimes have more than they think though it frequently does require selling a house, sometimes it requires having some of the children pitch in. I will tell you that long term care insurance has not, right now with the people who are currently in the homes I would say it's probably less than two percent are getting paid by long term care insurance, but it's a good thing to be thinking about for the baby boomers out there right now and if you have parents who are in their seventies or so that's an excellent option. Additionally there is the aid and attendance from the Veterans Administration, so if your parent is a Vet which hey World War II pretty much men, women you know were all involved in that war, there is a nice benefit that we actually help people fill out the paperwork for, it's called Veterans Assistance Aid and Attendance, and that can provide up to $1500 worth of income paid directly to the property for care, so that's very nice.

Fraschetti: Yeah I know I heard a commercial from I guess a legal firm that actually advertises and specializes in elder care and they were talking about boy it could be up to $6000 a month for elder care, and so boy that can really eat away at an estate and so you know is there, is there something that children or grandchildren should consider before actually thinking boy this whole estate might be liquidated?

Temple: Well I think you know a couple things, one is most care doesn't cost $6000 a month, it's going to range from somewhere between $2000 and $6000 depending on how much care the person needs. I think when you're looking at a private-pay nursing home situation the 6K is absolutely there. So know that there's definitely some options based on what the needs are and as I mentioned earlier the long term care insurance I think is good. You know I think the elder law attorney's may say you know shifting assets and things like that but I would you know caution people that there are tax implications and I think that you know you'd be surprised I think a lot of people can afford these options, it's just a matter of getting with the professionals who can help you figure this out. A Place For Mom is one group, we're a group of professionals who help people figure these, all of these details out and help you find the right choices in the right price range.

Fraschetti: And for those that are listening, Pam, we do have A Place For Mom on our website, the hook-up is, just go to WORDFM.com, click on the John and Stephanie link there and look under recent guests, and I understand that you do have a lot of tools there, even some tools that would help for kids or grandkids to notice early signs of depression, elderly depression, or Alzheimer's or as you said different things that might make them feel like, hey these folks might be at risk and this might not be the safest place for them.

Temple: Absolutely, lots of great options for reading materials out there. There's additionally, for anybody who's interested, we just started a community website and it's actually one of the nation's largest elder care community websites where you can go as a baby boomer if you have a concern about your parent and you can post a question, and you can talk to other families who have dealt with that, or are dealing with this, and or we have many professionals throughout the country who will answer your question for you, be it an elder law attorney, or one of our elder care advisors, geriatric care manager, we've got lots of people on there to answer questions. It's just a nice place to go to start.

Fraschetti: And can that be linked up through A Place For Mom as well?

Temple: Yeah, so if they go to the A Place For Mom link, and they look for "online resources",

Fraschetti: Okay,

Temple: They'll get to our community and they can post their question and we love that and we love to help people through that community website and they can of course always call us, our phone number is right on there and they can give us a buzz.

Fraschetti: Awesome, thanks Pam Temple. She's joined us from A Place For Mom, giving us some tips about that touchy time in our life when we have to try to figure out what to, how to handle our parents aging. And so good stuff. Again all of it online at WORDFM.com, John and Stephanie link under "recent guests".

Hall: It's a place that none of us want to go to but sooner or later it feels as though a lot of us have to. Hey remember a couple of years back there was a news story about an elderly woman who instead of going into a managed care facility she lived on a cruise line.

Fraschetti: You know, I've seen that they have those, residential cruises, and actually I mean when you consider $6000 a month that's a sweet way to live. That's what I want to do when I grow up.

Hall: Go out and see the world, cruising around and have Alberto take care of my needs.

Fraschetti: There you have it. Could you please bring another warm pot of coffee to my balcony, Alberto?

Hall: Yeah, we'll throw Mr. Hall overboard and get on with the cruise.

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