Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Senior Living

An article in my local paper today brought to light the fact that some elderly couples will go through a divorce in order to get assistance with their living expenses in various senior's homes. I cannot recall the %, but it seems to be a new trend as times get harder, prices increase, and senior's expenses are beyond their capabilities. I totally feel for all of them and worry about my own future as well, along with my mother's future. It's not like I am a hard-nosed nasty woman not caring.

But I try to look at the bigger picture. What have we seen in the news repeatedly over the years? Various unions fighting for higher wages and more benefits for nursing home staff. It was a big thing here a year or two ago, and in the paper almost every day for ages. Okay so along comes some higher pay, and better benefit packages - well who is supposed to pay for that? Isn't it the people using the nursing home? The residents? Grandma and Grandpa? Who else is there to pay for these increases in wages and benefits? Oh - the government? Well since the govt doesnt actually make money, it's more like a lender or a broker, that means the money is coming from us taxpayers - AND some of those very seniors as well. Whether it's through taxes on their pensions, or taxes on products they purchase such as toilet paper, prescriptions, food - you know, the important stuff? - they are paying these higher taxes to go toward senior's assistance programs and little by little more of their money is taken away and they in turn can no longer afford to stay at their home and divorce after 60 years so that they can both claim single and get some govt aide. What a lovely system we have set up for everyone. Isnt it charming?

Basically the article calls for more assistance for couples so they don't have to divorce. And also cheaper rates for living in a nursing home. Okay - but then where is THAT money going to come from? Oh from the taxes on pensions, taxes on everyone else, taxes on products -- what about the workers? How are they going to keep getting paid the same rate if the money coming into the home from the residents is lower? Ohhhh I get it - from the taxpayers again. So granny and grampy might get to stay married and get some more assistance - but they really won't be any better off at the end of the day. Everything will cost more through a different manner instead. What is it about this system that creates such havoc every time they try to fix it?

I thought about this a lot today because one of my coworkers has worked in senior's homes for many years. She recently started working with the other end of the age scale at my daycare :) Anyway she showed me the article and said it's 'digusting' how much some have to pay. I thought I would try a little banter to see what happened... I said "Well I seem to recall all of you and your unions demanding higher pay and benefits, so someone has to pay for that". I got the huff and puff response. She told me the name of the doctor that runs the home she worked in and was practically spitting while saying that he drives around in his fancy car while people in his assited living home are struggling. Yes, I realize that looks really bad to many - perhaps he could take less of a profit from it (if he is even actually profitting, who knows) but we can also choose where to put our seniors in the first place! there are several in my city and more being built to accomodate the future influx of seniors - but that man is also a physician and his car and big nice house may very well be a direct product of THAT, not the senior's home. It's hard to say, but she doesnt know for sure either. All she does know is that the seniors are having to pay a higher and higher amount to live in these places, while their pensions are not increasing and they become financially stuck.

I get that. It upsets me as well. I can barely stand to think about the number of poor senior's out there. My mom gets nowhere near enough in pension to pay for some of the assisted living places around here, so if something happens to her (she is 66), she would be stuck. Oh but wait - that's where HER FAMILY comes in. How many of these seniors are left there by family members who simply do not want to take care of their own parent(s)? How many are really and truly alone with no family anywhere to help them? I know that if my mom had a stroke or something and needed full time care, her pension is almost the same as what I clear in my job each month so I could actually stay home full or part time to care for her. And I have a son who is less than a year away from the age where he can work almost anywhere, so he could help too. I would rather teach my son about sacrificing a few things in order to help his grandmother than try to ship her off to a senior's home, even though she could most likely qualify for assistance. It would be hard. My mom and I argue more than we talk nice lol, but she is my mom and I will not be stuffing her into some room and visit her once a week, then once a month, then only at holidays. No way. We have already discussed this, my partner and I, and he is adamant that my mom is not going to a home. It would be hard, it's never easy.

My aunt's mother in law got alzheimer's and it was very hard. Oh man, for years they had so much trauma with that situation, but she lived in their home. My aunt still worked for the justice dept so they had someone come in to help with her during the day, but their wages allowed for that. If it didnt' then my aunt and her husband would have worked something else out. They would not put her in a home because they felt they owed her more than that.

So there are many ways to look at this situation. I am not going to diss those that do have their parent or grandparent in a home, but those that complain about the cost really have to take a step back and absorb the whole picture. It would probably not cost 3 grand a month for that parent to live with a family member, depending on medical needs and the family could be more assured that their senior was being treated well, getting the care they need every day, etc without a huge bill hanging over their heads each month. It's not easy no matter what someone chooses - it's not MEANT to be easy! But if the staff demand to be paid more, if the nursing care costs more, if the benefit packages are larger, then SOMEONE has to pay for that! We already pay pensions above and beyond what any of these seniors paid through CP becasue the cost of living has skyrocketed since they were working - we already put almost 50% of taxes into the health care system including senior care... what more can be done and what has to be sacrificed instead? How about the people working there stop getting their union to fight for higher pay and just suck it up instead? I know in my job I cannot make much per hour or no parents would be able to afford childcare other than the super rich so I dont even bother asking for raises! I know what the result of that would be immediately - higher fees for working parents. So hello - people in the seniors home yell and scream for more money because their job is so hard and demanding, and then cant figure out why it costs so much for seniors to live there.

It's not rocket science.


  1. In my line of work, I have noticed an increase in the number of people who are arranging their affairs (including involuntary separations) in order to minimize the amount they pay out of their pockets and maximize government benefits.

    Personally, before they cry to the government for more money, I would prefer these seniors and their adult children caregivers to have to sit down and bluntly ask their grandchildren and great grandchildren if they can borrow some money. Not that I would expect those kids to be able to lend it, but so that the point is driven home that that's who they are REALLY borrowing from when governments run huge deficits like Alberta and Canada are.

  2. It's very tough all around. We live a very low end lifestyle - no new toys, we rent, I can't even remember the last time I bought new clothes (other than an undergarment for $10 lol), I am wearing the same winter coat I bought 6 years ago, I have not bought new winter boots in about a decade (but need to soon! ugh!),, etc etc... and we still barely meet our financial requirements each month. I have thought numerous times about how when I was a single mom, I seemed to have more money flowing but that's because I had subsidized housing (30% of my gross income), plus a large amount of CCTB, GST every 3 months, twice-yearly Alberta tax credit, subsidized health care and daycare, child health benefit paying 100% of everything from eyes to teeth to prescriptions - and now I have none of that because living with my youngest child's father puts us just over the limit and we suddenly have to pay a lot extra $$ with all of my former benefits gone (apart from a small amount of CCTB). Talk about painful!

    I can understand why some people decide to 'live seperately', even if only for a little while, in order to get govt funding to catch up on some bills. But I am not stupid enough to ignore the fact that this practice will eventually only make things even harder for everyone.

    I personally find that the lower-middle income bracket is hardest hit because you don't earn enough for any funding, but you also don't really earn enough to live and save and feel like you are getting anywhere. My son's laptop broke last month and most of my friends are surprised I havent bought a new one yet. What? With what? Xmas is coming up, I'm a bit behind on utility bill (just a bit, but still...), and trying to plan for higher bills come this cold winter (starting tonight with -22 windchill, oh joy), so no, I do not have $400 to dash out and buy a laptop. I don't even have $100 lol.

    I'm not meaning to b*tch and whine, I'm just being truthful. I would love to have money for luxuries here and there, but I would much rather make sure my kids have a big school lunch and a decent breakfast and supper than go out shopping. I would LIKE to have the extra money, but I don't so I just have to deal with that.

    My son watches his friends all get the new xbox games the day they come out, and by the time he saves up his work money to get it, they are miles ahead of him - I'm sure it's not fun to seem like the poor kid all the time. But I try to use it as a learning device instead. Some of the friends who get these games are low income single family parents who receive about as much in benefits each month as i MAKE working almost full time!! Sorry but that isnt THEIR money they are buying it with. Others might have parents with credit card spending issues that will come back to haunt them eventually. Or they might just be well off and that's okay too. We are not going to sacrifice half a week's worth of groceries just to get him a new game faster.

    What does this have to do with seniors? Not much I suppose but the general point is that too many people want something-for-nothing. Or they want everything and expect others to be able to pay for it and exempt themselves from helping their own parents more.



These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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