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A Place for Mom Founder Gives Tips on How to Talk to Your Parents about Elder Care Choices

Click here to listen to an informative interview from Pamala Temple, President of A Place for Mom, about talking to your parents about elder care choices. The interview aired in Bellingham, Washington on KGMI (790am) on June 12, 2008.

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

Announcer: This is PM Bellingham with Jacqueline Cartier on KGMI News Talk 790.

Jacqueline Cartier: Good evening this is PM Bellingham and I am Jacqueline Cartier. Thanks so much for tuning in on this Thursday night. Glad to have you with us. There it is, it's the sun, so nice to see it finally again. Oh boy this is a little rough patch of rain right now but hopefully the weather will be on a little bit of an upswing here. Well tonight on the program we're going to have some fun and we're going to give away some passes, the Bellingham Theater Guild is presenting Dearly Departed, it actually opened last week and we're going to give away some vouchers so you can go see that lovely, lovely play, Dearly Departed at the Bellingham Theater Guild, we'll give away some of those passes a little bit later in the program. Also tonight we're going to get some tips on how you can care for your elderly and ailing parents. Of course this can be a really heart wrenching and difficult decision and time for many, many people. But it is just kind of a fact that a lot of us will have to deal with this at some point. I mean when is it the right time to kind of have this talk with your parents? How should you do it? And how in the world do you kind of start this process of looking for various facilities or different circumstances? It really can be daunting so we're going to get some advice tonight. We're going to talk with Pamala Temple, Temple excuse me. She is the founder of A Place For Mom,, also a website very helpful and a good resource too. We'll talk now with Pamala Temple, again she is the founder of A Place for Mom. Pamala welcome to the program.

Pamala Temple: Hi Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Cartier: Great to have you with us. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight.

Pamala Temple: You're welcome, thank you.

Jacqueline Cartier: Okay so let's just start out Pamala some advise, I mean how do you know when its time to kind of have this talk with your parents in trying to find out maybe alternative living spots and different situations. How do you know when it is the right time to have that discussion?

Pamala Temple: Well you know we help so many people I can tell you most people wait until there's a crisis and that would not be the right time to start talking to them about it because by then you're in a crisis and it's going to be very difficult. So plan ahead, start talking early and really as soon as your parents start aging, and it can never be too soon really. And then I think, you know, talking to them regularly about it even though they might not be appropriate or ready for this but so you can start understanding their wishes. And I think for everybody I think we've had people in our lives that we've seen the various, you know, issues come up and I think when it should be discussed if it hasn't been planned out there are a couple of key things people can look for. The first one is safety issues. If you're worried about the safety of your parent, if you're worried about the stairs, the stove, the nutrition, cooking, you know then you need to be thinking about what's going on here because there were probably other things going on. So safety is a big one. You have nutrition and what's happening there. A lot of times the elderly you know are losing weight, they are losing bone density, you want to make sure they're eating correctly and it's just sometimes hard for them. Maybe they can't see to make the appropriate meals so you've got nutrition. You also have social factors. You know how many of us know an elderly person who basically spends the entire day in one chair watching their shows? You know and it's just sort of a sad social situation which can lead to depression, depression can lead to not eating, not eating leads to medical problems and all of the sudden you have a crisis. So all of these things are just, its time to talk when you see any of these. And I guess the last little point on that question I would make is just mental issues, so you know how are they doing mentally? Is there any depression going on or some type of mental illness or do they have Dementia? Dementia is a tough one because you know, did they, people are frequently asking me you know is it just forgetfulness or is it dementia or is it Alzheimer's and what is all that? And those are hard things to sort out but if you're starting to see some of the signs then it's time to start talking.

Jacqueline Cartier: Pamala I would assume that it can be difficult though if you decide that you're going to have this conversation. I mean how, how should people approach this subject because there are going to be a lot of different emotions and sometimes a parent, you know, will be resistant to one idea or a grandparent will be resistant to something but you really feel strongly and you can tell that it's really the best decision for them or really the best move for them. How do you, how would you advise us to have those conversations?

Pamala Temple: Yeah it is tough, I think we've all had the you know elderly person with the finger pointing and you know I'm not going anywhere you know -

Jacqueline Cartier: Exactly.

Pamala Temple: I think the best way to approach it is one from a point of love, these are people that have raised us, have cared for us all of our lives and so you know remembering that we're doing this because we love them and so approaching from the perspective of knowing that they've been independent people all their lives, they want to be a part of the decision making process. They don't want someone telling them what to do. So if we can, rather than going in and trying to immediately impose our views about you know you need to be here or there, asking them about their wishes, asking them what their views of things are, talking to them about the safety issues that might be ensuing, or talking to them about the social issue or the forgetfulness. I think that's the way to start and really coming at it from asking questions as opposed to maybe telling them here's what I think. Hard to do because we, I know you know we may have it all figured out, we may know we have it all figured out and we know already what they're going to say so that it feels like you know we're in a battle already before we even get started, but those are some of the tips we give people to you know make this as smooth as possible.

Jacqueline Cartier: Okay, we're talking tonight with Pamala Temple; she is the founder of A Place For Mom. You can go to and check out her website. So Pamala what is your advice for actually finding the right place, or the right facility or kind of you know whether it's a nursing home or more of a retirement community with tennis courts and that type of thing. How do you go about that? That seems like an awfully daunting decision to make as well.

Pamala Temple: Well you know it is a daunting decision and these are folks who are in their seventies, eighties and nineties who have lived in a particular place probably for sometimes thirty and forty years. So it's a really important decision and you know there are lots of things you can do. One is understood that the options are, I don't want to say endless, but there are so many and the first thing you need to decide is well what care type are we even looking at here. You had mentioned a few of them so if you look at the continuum of care as I call it, the care types, you kind of begin with independent living, move into assisted living, there are what we call residential care homes which are private homes on private streets where you have very loving families taking care of a few elderly, usually around six, these are fantastic places too, hard to find. You have what everybody thinks of as elder care is nursing homes. You have home care. And my gosh just trying to display all the various care types and then well which one am I looking for can get really confusing so its one of the reasons why we started the company was we really believe that people need personal professional assistance when trying to decide what to do so get professional help. A Place For Mom service is actually free so we certainly recommend that folks call us. We have an Elder Care Advisor assigned to every person who has lived in that area and been to all the places and can basically listen to your story and kind of get you off in the right direction so finding that someone to kind of help you narrow down the choices and then they can really look at your personal situation and say oh, you know based on what you've told me your mother I think would find these places, you know, fantastic. And they can also give tips on other community resources, financial type things; you know lots of resources out there. So that would be my tips for how to you know get started with this, how do you pick the right place.

Jacqueline Cartier: We're talking tonight with Pamala Temple; she is the founder of A Place For Mom. Talking a little bit about how you tackle these difficult conversations and difficult decisions when it comes to figuring out getting the best care for your parents and even ailing parents and grandparents as well. We're going to continue talking with Pamala. Coming up and we're going to talk a little bit about her advise when to comes to making decisions to for your mom versus your dad, are there different tendencies? How does gender and sex and patriarchy, how does that all play into this equation as well. You're listening to PM Bellingham. We'll be right back.

Jacqueline Cartier: Back in the program, you are listening to PM Bellingham with Jacqueline Cartier tonight. Glad to have you with us. Our topic that we're discussing right now with Pamala Temple, she is the founder of A Place for Mom, talking a little bit about getting advise when it comes to talking to your parents and making some pretty serious decisions about well changing their, changing where they're living. I mean to decide whether to take her to an alternative housing, maybe a retirement home, or potentially a nursing home as well. These are tough decisions and we're getting some advice from Pamala now who again has founded the website You can check that out, it's a great resource. Pamala one of the big topics when it comes to this, one of the questions rather when it comes to this topic is cost. This is something that a lot of people worry about. I mean does insurance and Medicare can that help out when trying to find the right place and the right setting and that type of thing?

Pamala Temple: Well you know not as much as people would think. Medicare is really a medical insurance program. It will cover a short term stay in a nursing home if for instance somebody breaks a hip and needs rehabilitation its there for you and it's a fantastic program. What Medicare is not is really covering residential care, so you need some assistance and you want assisted living, it really doesn't cover anything there. A lot of those options which are so important for people are private pay options. On the insurance side, the long term care insurance is a great option. Not many people have it. I think probably only you know somewhere south of three percent of the people that we deal with and we talk to twenty thousand people a month because we are a nationwide program, but less than three percent of those people will have long term care insurance and that's nice if they do because a lot of times some of the fees will be covered there. On the cost part of it I do want to mention that there is a veterans benefit for what's called aid and attendance and we actually help people get this and it will help pay for some of the residential care so if you're looking at an assisted living and it costs on average usually around $3000 a month, sometimes less, qualified people can get the VA benefit which might help them with say up to $1500 of that $3000 payment so it's not a full coverage but its really nice. And its not for everyone because not everyone was a vet and not all vets would be covered it depends on how many assets you have. So there are some programs out there and that sort of circles back to you know get some professional assistance because you might be missing out on some potential benefits.

Jacqueline Cartier: So as far a $3000 a month is that, I mean is that kind of an average or are there different situations in housing and that type of thing that could actually be a lot more costly than that?

Pamala Temple: Yeah there definitely is a range. If you start at the beginning of the continuum of care at independent living, that might start at like $2000 but there are no levels of assistance in there so these are people who are able to function on their own and they might pay extra for meals. It's a much more retirement independent living setting and then you move on to assisted living the range is going to be somewhere between $2500 and you know $4000 - $5000 depending on how much care the person is getting and which location you choose. Then you move on to residential care homes, they also you know run the gamut, I would say also in the range of $2500 to $6000 per month. And then on the nursing home side you know the if Medicare is not paying because you're not in need of rehab you're looking at, you know these are people who really have a lot of medical, heaving nursing needs and so its typically $5000 - $6000 - $7000 a month yeah for a nursing home stay. It is incredible. Alzheimer's care too is very expensive. You basically can lay around an extra thousand or two on all of the prices I've just given you for Dementia and Alzheimer's care.

Jacqueline Cartier: My goodness. Well Pamala we are running out of time. I have one more question though, I did want to find out your take on this, as far as you know our moms and dads are often very different in how they kind of deal with things, and what's you advise on that subject? I mean do you find that your mom and dad are going to react very differently to this topic and to this discussion and when it's time to make these decisions?

Pamala Temple: Yeah that's a great question. How it usually impacts us and the families is like this, you have a couple that has lived together for you know, fifty - sixty years and then one spouse dies. So if the wife dies, the husband probably has never done certain things in a very traditional you know manner, maybe they haven't really ever cooked. Maybe they haven't washed clothes ever. And so this puts them into kind of a different situation than if the dad dies then the mother has, maybe she's never paid the bills.

Jacqueline Cartier: Right.

Pamala Temple: So you do see some gender lines there in terms of what those needs are. In terms of how the reaction is I think you know that era of folks in general you know are thinking nursing home right? And frequently if you say elder care people think sadly of the worst nursing home that ever was, which that's frequently that might be in the news but many of, first of all there are many options besides a nursing home and there are many nursing homes that are great so you know helping our parents keep that open mind around, hey there are actually some new things, we're not necessarily talking about a nursing home here, especially if they're still at home you're probably not talking about a nursing home placement. And if you've ever seen some of these assisted living places they're just absolutely gorgeous and I can tell you just from experience the family, you can sometimes at home see a decline in function, but when they get into the social setting where they're safe, they're eating nutritious meals, they're taking their medication on time which is a huge issue with the elderly all of the sudden all of these things pull together, a social network, you have almost a new lease on life and you're 84 or you're 94 and so its one of those things, hard to explain to an elderly sometimes if they're thinking of the worst place but boy there are some great options out there.

Jacqueline Cartier: Well Pamala I really appreciate your time and thanks so much for helping us out and getting us some really great advice tonight.

Pamala Temple: Oh you're welcome, thanks for having me on the show

Jacqueline Cartier: Again thanks a lot to Pamala Temple, the founder of A Place for Mom. You can go to and check her out. You are listening to PM Bellingham.

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