How To Find Affordable Senior Housing
A few years ago Miranda M. became a widow. After a short time her grandson (her only available relative) persuaded her to move across several states to be closer to him.
He located a nice retirement apartment where meals, housekeeping, and transportation are provided. By using her small Social Security income, and funds left by her loving husband, Miranda was just able to afford her rent and basic living expenses.
She didn't much like taking all her meals in the community dining room, so she continued to fix some of them in her own kitchen.
She reluctantly accepted the help of housekeeping for the heavy cleaning. But, as she said, "I need to keep busy. If I can't make my own bed and dust around I feel like a useless slug. I intend to keep doing for myself just as long as I can get up out of this chair."
But for one unforeseen disaster, Miranda and I never would have met, and she would have happily lived on in her sunny apartment.
You see, disaster struck because Miranda lived too long.
Both she and her grandson had counted on Miranda dying before her 85th birthday. It made perfect sense, they thought, as her family was not generally long-lived.
Her sister and brothers had all passed away at relatively young ages, as had her parents. Miranda figured she would be long gone before her money ran out.
There was only enough left to cover two more months in the retirement apartment when Miranda's grandson called me.
What was she to do?
Her monthly income of under $900 wasn't enough to pay for rent, utilities, food, and her medications in the least expensive apartment he could find. He asked me to find her a place in a Medicaid nursing home.
Well, Miranda certainly wasn't nursing home material.
There was nothing wrong with her mind. She could fix her own meals, and she could keep up her apartment (with a little muscle help). She really had no medical needs, and wouldn't have qualified for Medicaid and nursing home care even if she had wanted to.
Which she certainly didn't.
Her only real problem was lack of money (and a grandson who wasn't any better at planning ahead than she was).
After talking with her doctor and the manager of her apartment to confirm that she really was capable, I set out to try to find a "Section 202" apartment.
Section 202 housing - named after the section of the federal legislation authorizing it - is rental housing specifically for people over the age of 62 who have incomes under 50 percent of the area median income.
According to HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average Section 202 resident is a woman in her 70s with an annual income of less than $10,000.
Section 202 residences are built and run by private, non-profit groups who have received loan incentives from HUD. HUD is not involved in day to day operations. Rents are calculated according to income, and rental assistance funds pay whatever balance remains.
Luckily for them, Miranda and her grandson live in a large metropolitan area. There are always more options in a larger town. But somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of Section 202 funds have been set aside for use in non- metropolitan areas, so these apartments aren't only found in big cities.
Hunting for a Section 202 apartment can be labor-intensive. When an apartment becomes available it rarely stays empty long. Often there are lengthy waiting lists.
The first piece of business was to telephone every apartment complex on the Section 202 list (see below for the web address to get a list). I verified that they were still participating in the program, and asked whether they had any vacancies.
Frankly, I didn't expect a "yes" to the vacancy question, but it never hurts to ask.
Lo and behold, and miraculously for Miranda, there actually was a vacancy in an older building near downtown. Because it's not in the pretty suburbs it isn't as popular as some of the others. For our purposes, it was a palace and a kingdom all in one. Beggars couldn't be choosers!
If there hadn't been a vacancy, Miranda and her grandson would have had to visit each apartment complex and place her name on every waiting list. Sometimes the wait can be as long as 2 years or more, so I don't advocate waiting as long as Miranda did.
Along with her application form, Miranda was required to give the apartment manager proof of her income (a Social Security statement or a pay stub). She was asked about previous landlords who could vouch to her suitability as a tenant. She was asked to provide copies of her pharmacy bills, as those expenses are taken into account when the rent is calculated. This particular apartment manager also wanted a statement from her doctor that she was truly independent.
If she had planned on visiting multiple places, Miranda would have taken along several photocopies of all her information so she could leave it everywhere she applied.
This is where having someone to come along is invaluable. The job can be overwhelming and exhausting for an older person.
If she hadn't found this affordable place, Miranda probably would have had to move in with her grandson (NOT a happy thought for either of them), or find a little private room to rent in someone's home, or try to find someone looking for a roommate. I was ready to try whatever it took to keep her off the street.
Because time was short Miranda had to take what was available. She has since put her name on the waiting list at two other apartments that are a little nicer and closer to her grandson. The great thing about Section 202 apartments is that you can move whenever and wherever you wish - depending of course on the terms of the lease you have signed.
To locate a directory of Section 202 housing in your state, go to http://www.hud.gov/directory Choose your state in the upper right corner. From that point on you might have to search around a little for "renting," because the information seems to be in different places on the state pages.
If you want to talk with someone in a HUD office, click on the web address below for a directory of offices: http://www.hud.gov/directory/ascdir3.cfm
If you, or someone you care for, is over 62 and on a limited income, Section 202 housing can be a lifesaver. It's very important to plan ahead, though, because these apartments are popular.
If you have concerns about finances becoming a problem in the future, start NOW to investigate your options. There's nothing more frightening than outliving your savings - - ask Miranda.
About The Author
Molly Shomer, LMSW is "Head Coach" of The Eldercare Team, and a dedicated advocate for those who are caring for elderly adults. Please visit her web site at http://www.eldercareteam.com for more elder care articles and important resources for caregivers. "Eldercare News You Can Use," the bi-monthly newsletter, is also available there. Write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Board And Care Homes ? What Are They?
Board and Care homes (also known as RCFE's - Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly) are residential private homes that have been licensed by the Department of Social Services to provide services to seniors. Most accept no more than six residents, but offer a cozy, home-like setting for frail seniors. At least one caregiver is on the premises at all times to assist residents.Board and care homes come with a variety of characteristics. Rooms can be shared or private and may include a shared or private bath...(related: Elder Care)
The Truth About Christmas
Every year, as Christmas approaches, you hear Christmas carols everywhere. Sometimes to the point where another Silent N...(related: Elder Care)
The Best Investment You Can Make Right Now: Long Term Care Insurance
Don't think you need it? Consider this: a full 50% of Americans over the age of 50 will need long term care at some point in their lives. The average cost of nursing facility care (or home health care assistance) is $61,000 per year, and the average stay in a long term care facility is 2½ years. Can you think of a faster way to decimate your nest egg?Or look at it this way: you would never go without homeowner's insurance, would you-even though the chance of a house fire is just one in 1,200. Yet according to a recent study, if you are age 65 or over, you are ten times more likely to find yourself in a nursing home this year as you are to have your house burn down.So if haven't looked into Long Term Care Insurance-or LTCI-now is the tim...(related: Elder Care)
Prepare To Make Long-term Care Choices
Several months ago, I was coming out of a gas station when a woman stopped me and asked me what I did for a living. On the back of our van is our web address. On the side wing windows is "Free Senior Home Placement." I explained to her that I am a Long Term Care Consultant. She breathed a sigh of relief. "Great I need you!"She went on to explain that her mother had fallen and was in the hosp...(related: Elder Care)
Helping Caregivers Get Comfortable Asking For Help
Becoming a care giver might not have been a conscious decision on your part. It may have arrived quietly and unnoticed because you are the adult child of your elderly parents who now require care or you may have a special needs child that exacts your constant attention or a friend or spouse has become very ill and needs your support. In any of these situations the impact of providing constant care is tremendous.One of the most difficult things about taking on a care giver role is that feeling of isolation, that sense of being all alone. Often times we think we need to do the job completely by ourselves, that the responsibility lays entirely with us. That's not true. You can ask for help.Her...(related: Elder Care)
If Using The Stairs Has Become A Daily Struggle, A Stair Lift Could Change Your Life
Using stairs is an everyday nightmare for many people. As we grow older the stairs in our home can become more of a struggle due to mobility problems associated with old age, an accident or illness. Often when out shopping or in a public place an alternative can be found such as a lift or escalator, but the stairs at home can become a daily challenge. Many people who experience difficulty climbing the stairs come to dread having to use them. For people whose bathroom or toilet is upstairs it can be even more of an issue.
Baby Boomers: Will They Be Able To Afford Their Parents?
Do you worry about whether your aging parents have their "affairs in order?" You should. After all, you're the one who will have to pay unnecessary taxes and endure time-consuming court procedures if your parents don't have an effective estate plan. Without some forethought on their part and your part, you could be facing a lot of wasted time and money in addition to a lot of frustration. All of the waste and frustration can easily be avoided.
Using The Proper Wheelchair Will Make Your Everyday Life Easier
If you have an injury or a health problem that restricts your mobility, you can achieve the independence you desire with a wheelchair that's just right for you. Wheelchairs are constructed for people of every size, shape, and age, and have features designed to meet the many d...(related: Elder Care)
Stairlifts ? Take The Struggle Out Of Climbing The Stairs
Buying a stairlift can have huge benefits for your quality of life, giving you back some freedom and independence. Stairlifts can be adapted to your individual needs, so no matter what your requirements are, there'll be one to suit you. The stairlift company representative who visits your home can assess what type of design would be best for you. There are two main sorts. Straight stairlifts are suitable for staircases that don't have any bends. They glide in a straight line up and down the stairs. If...(related: Elder Care)
What About Tennesse Dept. Of Human Services Abuse Of The Elderly And Their Families?
PART I: Physical Abuse of the Elderly vs. Tennessee DHS Abuse of FamiliesDuring the week of October 26, 2003, newspapers across the state of Tennessee published an Associated Press story that featured the glaring news headline, "Reports of neglect and abuse of senior citizens up 40% in six years." The second sentence of the story indicated the Tennessee Department of Human Services' (DHS) Division of Protective Services has a staff of only 83 to cover Tennessee's 95 counties. Juxtaposed this way, the Associated Press story implied that abuse of the elderly in Tenne...(related: Elder Care)
Prevent Or Delay Alzheimers Disease
Argh! Where are my glasses? I put them down . . . to do what? And when?As the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient, this inability to keep up with everyday items, like my glasses and car keys, drives me absolutely nuts! Absent-mindedness has always plagued me. Now, it keeps me anxious and guessing. Is this an early sign of Alzheimer's disease? Could I end up like my father, crippled with this disease? I decided to stop worrying about it and act!I searched the latest literature to see what techniques (no prescriptions, thank you!) could prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Here are some of the things I found.Diet Counts!Vitamin EDiets rich in vitamin E...(related: Elder Care)
New Hope For Alzheimers Treatment
There is now widespread agreement among research scientists and medical professionals that Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a problem quickly growing to vast proportions. As the life expectancy of Americans continues to rise, increasing the percentage of the population over 65 years of age, so does the number of Alzheimer's cases.It is currently estimated that people over 65 years of age have a 10% chance of developing Alzheimer's, while those over 85 have a 50% likelihood of developing AD, making it the leading cause of dementia among older people. Though the d...(related: Elder Care)
Assisted Living Facilities ? What Are They?
Assisted Living facilities are generally for person's 60 years of age and older. Typical candidates need assistance with "Activities of Daily Living" (ADLs), but wish to li...(related: Elder Care)