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Posted: November 30, 2005

Professional Caregiving

The (Financial) Mind, Body, and Soul Connection

I recently had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the New Jersey Society on Aging’s 2005 Conference. The theme of their conference was the mind, body, and soul connection. Since my main expertise is more along the lines of marketing and financial issues among the elderly, this topic was a little more difficult for me as professional speaker.

However, it occurred to me that we might as well address the elephant standing in the room when it comes to long-term care. That elephant is money.

One of our seniors’ biggest fears is that they will outlive their hard-earned nest egg. When a spouse has a long-term care need, that fear is even greater.

The average daily cost of a private room in a nursing home in the United States is $203 per day, or $74,095 annually, according to the annual MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home & Home Care Costs, conducted by the company’s Mature Market Institute. The cost represents an increase from last year’s $192 of 5.7%. The highest rates, once again, were reported in Alaska where the cost is $531 per day. The lowest were in the Shreveport area of Louisiana at $115.

The study also found that the cost of a home healthcare aide averaged $19 per hour nationally, an increase of $1 or 5.5%. For the first time in 2005, the MetLife study reports on homemaker/companion care which averages $17 per hour. The lowest costs for both home health care aides and homemaker companions are $17 and $12 per hour in Shreveport, Louisiana. The highest cost for a home healthcare aide is Vermont at $31. Homemaker/companions cost the most in Rochester, Minnesota, at $23 per hour.

How would an extra bill of $6,174/month affect your mind, body and soul connection?

Fear, guilt, and stress all leave us with a sense of disconnect when it comes to our mind, body, and soul. Financial problems can lead to all kinds of health issues.

There is no way that we can take away sadness and grief when a loved one needs 24-hour care in a nursing home. Of course, we feel a sense of loss when that happens.

However, we can minimize stress, guilt, and fear by doing one simple thing -- PLANNING AHEAD.

There isn’t one financial or legal strategy that’s right for every family, but considering long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, life settlements, and other financial options is essential.

Having a durable power of attorney for health and finance, as well as a living will, is also essential for every adult over the age of 18, in my opinion!

So, why don’t we all plan ahead?

Sometimes planning ahead means having difficult conversations. Most people aren’t looking for the right time to talk to their aging parents about nursing home placement. It just doesn’t happen!

But other questions and conversations can lead to having a better understanding of what our parents want for us and for themselves in the event that they can no longer make their wishes known.

The only way to keep that mind, body, and soul connection from falling apart at the most critical time is to already know the answers to the questions that revolve around long-term care.

1. How am I going to pay for this?

2. Who will care for me?

3. Where will I be cared for?

Know the answers for yourself, and for your family members. It will make a world of difference!


Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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