Dear Next President,
My grandfather is a 90 year-old World War II veteran and my grandmother is an 80 year-old with severe arthritis, among other medical problems. With my grandfather’s pension and social security, they are barely able to afford their independent senior apartment. Over the last two months, they have both been in and out of the hospital and a rehabilitation facility. During that time, I witnessed how much assistance they needed and the fear that we would need to move them to an assisted living facility that they cannot afford. Through many weeks of therapy, they were both able to continue living independently. However, many senior citizens are not so lucky. The National Center for Assisted Living stated that nationwide, more than 735,000 elderly people are currently living in assisted living facilities. The number of elderly people needing assisted living is increasing. However, the number of people who can afford assisted living is decreasing. Based on this information, I believe there is the need for the creation of a national system that helps the elderly pay for assisted living.
As you know, most senior citizens live on a fixed income and do not have a lot of money to spend each month. According to the Huffington Post, the average senior citizen earns $2,925 a month. That is compared to the average cost of $3,250 a month for a one-bedroom, single occupancy assisted living apartment (SeniorHomes.com). In most assisted living facilities there is also an additional charge for basic assistance that is needed like bathing, dressing, and medication management. With these added charges, the monthly cost for senior citizens could double.
Of course you may say that the government already provides assistance to the elderly through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veteran’s Administration. However, these forms of financial aid usually only provide a limited amount of assistance, so senior citizens will not be able to afford assisted living for an extended period of time. They will eventually need to use their savings to supplement the monthly cost of their care. When their savings are gone, what will they do?
Although you may think that their children will be able to take care of them, being a caregiver for your parents can take a lot of work and be very stressful at times. For example, if the adult children want to go out somewhere, they will have to find or hire someone that can be home with their parents in case they need help while their children are gone. It may also cost a lot of money to have their parents living with them because they may have to renovate their house so they have a wheelchair accessible full bathroom in addition to a bedroom on the first floor. Being a caregiver also means the children have to put the rest of their lives on hold because at any second something could happen where their parents will need their full attention and care.
I believe assisted living should be more affordable for the elderly. Right now, seniors pay for the entire cost of their assisted living out of their own monthly income and savings, and this alone is not enough to pay for long-term assisted living. I hope my family never has to make the decision to put my grandparents into assisted living because their savings won’t last very long. Then we will be asking the same question as everyone else: What do we do now? Next President, our country needs to help its elderly have safe, acceptable care and living facilities at the end of their lives. We need to make sure we have a long-term care program as part of our country’s Medicare system.