Author Spotlight: Ben Rao

This Week on Sage Aging

Uncertainty has been a defining word in the last year, hasn’t it? But that’s nothing new to people who are caring for aging loved ones. Caregivers face uncertainty every single day. Can I do this? Am I doing a good job? Where do I begin? These are all questions every single caregiver has asked themselves. If you regularly listen to Sage Aging, then you know that conversations about how to prepare for and pay for long-term care are really important, and honestly should begin long before the need arises. In this episode, we talked about all that comes along with that. Listen to episode 48 here.

My Guest

My guest today is Ben Rao. Like many of you, experienced firsthand the emotional and financial struggle that many families face when he unexpectedly was confronted with the reality of transitioning his own dad into care. Now his experience inspired him it inspired him to write a book to help other families transition their loved ones into aging care. The book is titled Paying For Long-Term Care, and it’s a guide to understanding and funding long-term care for older adults.

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Transcript

Author Spotlight – Ben Rao

Mon, 3/22 2:38PM • 39:29

SPEAKERS

Liz Craven, Ben Rao

 

Liz Craven  00:00

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Liz Craven  00:21

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Liz Craven  01:16

Welcome to the sage aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now. And let’s get started.

 

Liz Craven  01:54

Hello, and welcome to the stage aging podcast. This is Episode 48 on March 31 of 2020. Just a couple of weeks into that COVID shut down I hopped on the mic and launched Sage aging. Now Originally, I had planned to launch in April. But there we were all sitting in our homes, many of us confused and scared. So I called my friend Aaron Landry. And we recorded the first episode. And the title of that episode was coping with stress and anxiety in uncertain times. And now it’s been a year of learning and growing in so many ways, obviously, and many more and bigger ways than learning to produce a podcast. But I want to say thank you for coming along for the ride and for your support of the sage aging podcast. It’s been a fun journey, and looking forward to that journey continuing for a long time.

 

Liz Craven  02:51

So uncertainty has been a defining word in the last year hasn’t. But that’s nothing new to people who are caring for aging loved ones, caregivers face uncertainty every single day. Can I do this? Am I doing a good job? Where do I begin? These are all questions every single caregiver has asked themselves. One of the most common uncertainties families face is how to pay for long term care, and how to tap into available resources. Now if you’re listening to this podcast, you’ve probably given that some serious thought. In last week’s episode Episode 47. We discussed estate planning. And if you listen to that, then you know that conversations about how to prepare for and pay for long term care are really important, and honestly should begin long before the need arises. Today we’re going to talk about that. Back in Episode 12. We discussed paying for long term care with elder law attorney Jason Penrod, that was part of a five part Elder Law series that we did. And if you missed that, I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that collection. I’ll leave the link in the show notes and blog posts for you. My guest today is Ben Rayo. Like many of you, experienced firsthand the emotional and financial struggle that many families face when he unexpectedly was confronted with the reality of transitioning his own dad into care. Now his experience inspired him it inspired him to write a book to help other families transition their loved ones into aging care. The book is titled paying for long term care, and it’s a guide to understanding and funding long term care for older adults. Welcome to the show. Ben, thanks so much for joining me today.

 

Ben  Rao  04:47

Hi, thanks, Liz. Happy to be here.

 

Liz Craven  04:49

Well, I’m glad to have you. It’s a Monday when we’re recording this…people will listen to this on all different days of the week, but firehose Monday is where we are and so we’re We’re gonna take a step back and take a deep breath. And we’re just gonna sit and have a great conversation. Now, a lot of the guests on my show have had personal and defining experiences that led them to pursue the work that they do. And seemingly for you, it’s it’s no different. You and your family also found yourselves just kind of blindly navigating this space with your stepfather, Tom, isn’t that right?

 

Ben  Rao  05:27

It is it is. But I didn’t realize that at the time. It’s really interesting that how I got here, because that happened five to six years ago, I didn’t know what was going on. At the time. I was just experiencing that without having a clue about anything that happens in the senior living industry.

 

Liz Craven  05:43

Well, it’s it is definitely a maze. And it’s amazed that families should not have to navigate on their own. But unfortunately, that’s the way it is. And I can’t even count how many caregivers I’ve spoken to and families I’ve spoken to whose first question is, where do I start? Where do I begin? So tell me about the experience with your family.

 

Ben  Rao  06:08

So five, six years ago, my stepfather was in his mid 70s. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Tom, who I love just as equally as I did, my father, all my parents got along, I had the most amazing childhood is from that perspective. My parents were very mature about it, they were friends, my father came over with his second wife for Thanksgiving and what stopped by and hung out. And so it was like, you know, you couldn’t have asked for something better. So, you know, I love the man dearly and, and he entered my life when I was four or five years old. So very early in my life, when he passed, it was like losing my dad is still alive. I lived in Kansas City, and he lived in Louisville, and it’s not uncommon, I think, for family members to have that level of separation. As we grow, and we spread out across the United States or across the country, or to different countries, the adult child tends to be somewhere different, you know, on average, that’s over 400 miles away. And I had a half sister that lived outside of Louisville, you know, she was the trusted family member that was there locally, and neither one of us had a clue about what we were supposed to be doing. I mean, it started with, he got very sick quickly, and we got in home health in home health care. And then he got a little worse, and we had to get somebody that was bigger, because he needed help transferring out of bed. And he was a large man. And so you know, we try to go down that path of Okay, we can do it ourselves, we can get home health care involved in at some point, either it gets to be so expensive with the home health, or it just doesn’t make sense, because you can’t keep up with it that you know, to move him to assisted living. And so we needed to do that. And, again, back to square one don’t know anything about assisted living, you know, where are we going to find that and we reach out and you know, what most families do, which is, you know, I think a big mistake is they go to Google, and they go start googling, you know, nursing homes near me assisted living near me, anything near me, help near me. And they start to fill out forms on different websites. And next thing, you know, their phone’s ringing off the hook because they’ve loved her information on so many different websites. And really, I saw that as being one of the biggest challenges and mistakes that families make, you know, after we after we found assisted living, then it was, you know, how much how many? How much assets does he have? What’s this going to cost? You know, is he going to qualify for Medicaid? What is Medicaid? You know, I didn’t know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. And so it’s very confusing. And he had he had too much money to get Medicaid. But to get Medicaid, you had to spend everything down. And so that was very strange. I mean, he had a house and we had to figure out what to do with that. It was outdated. And so it was filled with stuff. You know, the stuff is all the memories that we had throughout our life. And the you know, what are we going to do with all this stuff? Do we are we going to get a dumpster? Or are we going to do you know, yard sale estate sale, you know, it’s just another complexity of that whole process. You know, he was in assisted living for a period of time and then his his life started to come to an end, we moved him back into his home with hospice. So then he could spend his last days there. And then he passed and, again, there was a lot of mistakes made along the way didn’t know about VA benefits, didn’t know about Medicaid, couldn’t find his paperwork. Tom was the kind of guy and I talked about this in my book, Tom was the kind of guy that you know, I would be rummaging around in the freezer for a pizza, frozen pizza as a kid. And I’d be like, what’s this? I’d find a block of foil and I opened up the foil and had $100 bills. Just the sort of thing that somebody would throw away into the garbage as you were cleaning out a freezer, right, right without looking at it. I mean, it was that was just kind of the way he was a really interesting man. He was in a thoroughbred business. So I grew up around churchill downs. And had to go to walk horses when they the cooldown after they exercised. Because I was being punished, I had to go do that. So there’s many Saturdays that I had to go do that and in early mornings, it nightclubs and restaurants. And it was a really famous singer in Louisville. So he knew lots of people. But he was just kind of up, he was kind of eccentric like that. And so, you know, not having things documented, you know, not a big PC guy. We didn’t know what he had or what he didn’t have. There was lots of digging to do and, you know, so then we just kind of rushed right into it, like most families. And I try to lay out the book a process to help give just a little bit of a guideline, it’s not perfect, and it’s not going to be exact for everybody. But just a really simple flow or guideline on how to approach the process when somebody’s considering transitioning a loved one into long term care.

 

Liz Craven  10:58

So all of the mistakes that we’ve been talking about the so common, most families are facing those, which of those mistakes were the most burdensome to you and your family, I appreciate that you mentioned not putting your phone number into all of those websites, because that is just going to bring it on site, you may as well change your phone number. If you put your phone number on one of those sites.

 

Ben  Rao  11:23

Well there is a time in a place for it. It’s just it’s not step one. And I know families feel urgency. And you know what, I didn’t have this revelation after I went through it and said, Oh, I should read went back and researched it. You have been a serial entrepreneur for 20 years involved in in technology and real estate. And I sold a business and I bought an old post office. And I turned that post office into a into a shared workspace and entrepreneurial incubator space. And a company came through the space, family solutions for care. And they were focused in the senior living industry, it really was a good match for me to help them as a consultant. And eventually, they invited me to become a partner in that business. And so I really started to see firsthand, because not long term care insurance is just one way to pay for care. But that’s difficult to that whole industry consolidated from 200, companies down to a dozen, and I got approached by a person in St. Louis that was, was providing real estate services to people that were transitioning into care. And he and I got together and developed a company called mom’s house, you know, those companies really got me the exposure to seeing what was happening, you know, over the last few years and understand more about the process and the challenges. And it just became so obvious to me that I could make an impact to help hopefully hundreds of 1000s of families to make this less stressful and give them some guidance on a process versus just going to Google putting it in and keeping their fingers crossed.

 

Liz Craven  12:55

That’s kind of what it’s like. And it’s so different for each family, there’s no cookie cutter way to approach it, the same scenario is not necessarily going to fit for every person. And that’s the importance of being able to figure out where to go for information. So I totally get that it’s a really important element that we have to get right. And I love that your exposure to other things brought you to this place because frankly, we’re in a position with the baby boomers aging up that in a few years from now, we are going to be in a very bad situation, if we don’t change the way we’re approaching aging, meaning we have to as communities, start to build awareness and start to get the resources out in front. I know we’re doing that in our community. And there are a lot of communities around the world, frankly, who are doing that through Age Friendly communities. But that’s a completely another conversation. But it is really important that we create processes by which people can walk through this journey, because otherwise they’re left lost. And one comment that you made the whole people think that they have to spend down all of their money and there are all these things that they have to do. But the best solution is to contact a professional, go and see an elder law attorney, let them help you with Medicaid planning so that you don’t sell your house and give everything away and then have that penalty for the five year look back on Medicaid. That hurts a lot of families. I can’t even count how many families I’ve encountered who’ve gone through that. So the whole research part of it and conversely

 

Ben  Rao  14:44

Planning for it in advance to get that house into a trust early.

 

Liz Craven  14:49

Exactly, exactly. And that takes a team of professionals the same way that we have a team of professionals working with us for our health care, we might have Have a primary care and specialty doctors and all kinds of people, maybe somebody in the home helping to provide that hands on care. In the same way, we need to have professionals serving our financial needs and our legacy needs as well. So all a great conversation,

 

Ben  Rao  15:18

I try to try to lay those out in the book, you know, the different kinds of resources, you know, the elder law attorneys, one area, you know, geriatric care managers or another person that can be part of that, you know, social worker can be part of that, you know, even a placement agent that doesn’t cost the family anything, and they’re going to really understand more locally, you know, those are a lot of great resources. Some of them may cost the family money, some may not, you know, in that book, it talks about all the different pieces and parts and components of long term care and the different levels of care and who’s who tried to give people an understanding of like, what’s this all about? What’s happening. But the first place to start, I believe, is is assessing the care needs. What level of care Do you need is, can you stay home? Do you need to go into assisted living? Where are you at, and that’s just a basic way to start. The next step after that would be trying to identify all the different assets. And so we take a chapter to talk about all different assets, what you need to be thinking about, there’s actually a download there to where you can put them all side by side, compare them see how because things get overlooked, I’m amazed at the number of families that don’t realize that their loved one has a life insurance policy or long term care insurance policy.

 

Liz Craven  16:31

Oh, that is so common. A lot of people don’t know. And I think a lot of money goes unclaimed, because things are not kept in an orderly fashion. I really recommend people have that all of that in one spot. And these again, these conversations have to happen long before there’s an emergency.

 

Ben  Rao  16:50

Yeah, I encourage people in the book, the adult children, you know, I’m hoping that this can be a great learning curve for them too. As far as I need to be thinking about where I am. Now, if I’m in my mid 60s, this is going to be me in 20 years. So I should take some of these best practices as far as identifying all my different assets and defining what they are and having a copy of them even though it’s going to get outdated. At least it’s a place to start. Oh, you have an Edward Jones account. Oh, you have a life insurance policy with Northwestern Oh, you, you know, Genworth long term care, insurance, any of these things? Oh, I didn’t realize you were owner of that property over there that you want in some poker bet, you know, 15 years ago, right. So there’s just all these different things and assets. And this is gives you a good guidance as far as what to look for, and keep track of them and start now versus when you’re in crisis mode.

 

Liz Craven  17:42

Right, exactly. And to make it a point to review all of those documents and all of those things on an annual basis and keep things up to date. And always have a trusted loved one or a professional that you hire. You mentioned before geriatric care managers, another name for that is an aging life care manager. Having somebody like that on your team, they could be a go to person for helping you to keep all of those things in line. And it’s super important to have someone sometimes it’s important not to have a family member, but to have someone from outside the family helping you to handle those things. But definitely identifying what is there, what assets we may be able to tap into is super important. That’s also something that your elder law attorney can assist with. So we’ve gone through, the first step is to assess the second step is to define and identify assets. The third step learn tell us more about that.

 

Ben  Rao  18:45

Yeah, so the third step is really about a third of the book is just going into details about the different ways to pay for care. And what’s there just to get people thinking about what they should be looking for, what their options are, if you go straight to looking for care, you have no idea what you can afford, because you haven’t identified what what your assets are, what level of care you need. So you really need to kind of do those things. First, you understand what it is you’re looking for. We don’t go to the grocery without shopping list. Although I guess I had to go to the grocery sometimes without a shopping list, but

 

Liz Craven  19:17

Don’t go hungry!

 

Ben  Rao  19:20

Don’t go hungry. So the learning what the different options are. And that could be anything from long term care insurance claims to selling your house to a life insurance policy that has a assisted living rider on it or conversion piece. It could be Medicare, it could be I’m sorry, Medicaid, it could be VA aid and attendance. I’m amazed at the number of veterans that don’t understand that there’s a program out there if they served actively in war, that there are some benefits there. All these things have different levels of complexity. And there’s some ways to be creative and what order that you can do them in because as you mentioned earlier that you know Medicaid and spending And five year look back, you know, being able to go back and look at any assets that you had in the last five years, the government’s going to look at that. And that’s how they’re going to identify you, it may keep you from being able to tap into that 234 years, if, depending on what your assets are, I think the VA to tenants, right now assets are at like 120 828,000 or less gets you into qualifying. And that’s a sliding scale. There’s some creative things you can do with an HSA account, IRAs give you the ability to also use those towards, you know, assisted living in some in some ways. But you know, a lot of people have HSA with their insurance policy that HSA could pay for long term care. And you might say, Well, I don’t have enough money in it. But if you start now, and in your 50s, or 60s, and you have an HSA account, that HSA account, actually could invest in other things besides just whatever the fund is that that particular HSA provider is investing in. And I’m just going to put this disclaimer here, I am not a financial expert. I’m not an attorney. Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer. But I just sat in a session where they were talking about using an HSA type account or self directed IRA investing in real estate. And although the gains from the transaction went back into it, and if you’re limited only put 678 $1,000 a year into one of those, think about if you were investing that into a real estate deal, or some other kind of business, and it was bringing 10s of 1000s of dollars back into return. That’s one way to quickly inflate your money you have available. So there’s a lot of different creative ways I talked about in the book about things that you can be doing. But it’s just, again, people are starting with nothing and not understanding where they are at all. And this is just to get them from zero to 50. Right? If I can get people from zero to 50, then they are so much better off because they have an understanding of where they are.

 

Liz Craven  21:52

So it sounds like primarily you focused on people who do have some kind of assets to work with. Obviously, there are a lot of people who don’t have the first asset, is there anything in the book that really addresses them? Or is this more focused on the other demographic?

 

Ben  Rao  22:09

Well, the people that don’t have assets would fall into the category of Medicaid, or VA aid and attendance, if they’re a veteran, or a lot of people don’t realize the spouse of a veteran also can qualify for that too. Right. So if you don’t have a lot of assets, and you’re listening there, you know, you can go Medicaid route, or you can go VA aid and attendance are two ways that you can have access to care, it’s really some of your only options.

 

Liz Craven  22:37

Yeah, it is very limited. It’s that’s where it becomes very important for you to be connected to your local community. And I’ll just as we’re on this for a moment, I will throw it out there, call your local area agency on aging, get connected with local programs, like Meals on Wheels, and other programs like that. There are programs that will provide respite for you other other things that can be helping hands, you’ll not find funding for assisted living, you’ll not find funding most of the time for in home care. But you may find help with some of those things. And hopefully, down the road as we go. I know that our legislators are debating it heavily at this point. Hopefully we’ll see some assistance for families who have loved ones who need care for home care. So we’ll see where that goes. I’m hoping that it goes in a direction of help.

 

Ben  Rao  23:39

It’s really scary when you think about what’s coming at us when we talk about the silver tsunami. And you think about what that might look like to our country over the next 10 to 15 years, with a lot of people not understanding that long term care could be anywhere from 40 to $100,000. a year or more. You know, you talked about Meals on Wheels. There’s a lot of programs out there that that help there. My mother was actually she’s been in the non for profit space in the senior industry, her entire life. So she ran seven senior citizen centers activity centers in Louisville, Kentucky, and I know that they did a meal delivery. I enjoy doing meals delivery here in Lee’s Summit where I live. I don’t do it a lot. But you know, I try to do it at least once a month. It’s not that hard to do. And it’s I do the same route. So then it’s like I get to recognize the people. And that that kind of evolved into which is really meaningful, was doing it on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Liz Craven  24:34

Oh, nice.

 

Ben  Rao  24:36

And taking my kids who are young adults, you know, 19 and 22 and my wife, and taking time out of our day to be thankful for all the things that we have, but then they go and deliver meals and it’s just really feels good and it’s and it’s fun to take. It’s fun to take, you know, food is like the connection for all of us. Right?

 

Liz Craven  24:55

Absolutely. Absolutely. And the isolation is hard for older adults, typically, the adults who are taking advantage of those types of programs are doing so because they really don’t have a lot of family around to take care of them. So when you think about the holidays, I know here where I live in Central Florida, we have an organization called Volunteers in Service to the elderly, and they do deliver meals, like Meals on Wheels, we also have meals on wheels, but for their birthday, every year, they get a cake. You know, the someone delivers them, oh, no, that’s cool, a baked cake, and they get a happy birthday message and a lovely visit. And it’s those social pieces that matter so much to them. And it’s really fun to watch those things and be a part of those. So everybody go volunteer, find something to volunteer for, make a phone call to your neighbors who are alone and living there without family who might be getting older, you won’t regret it a lot of fun to do that.

 

Ben  Rao  25:59

Where I live, you know, social services, in your city, you know, also has a lot of services that can help. And they would also be a good connection for you to give you ideas of other different programs that are available, if they can’t help in your local aging agencies that you mentioned that that’s a, that’s a good place to start to, for both volunteering or if you need help.

 

Liz Craven  26:22

And we’ll make sure that there are links in the show notes. And in the blog post for Episode 48, you’ll find links to anything that we mentioned here and make it good and easy for you to find. So let’s move on to selection. Now we’ve studied what kind of care is available, what kind of care is needed, what assets are in hand. And we figured out where those gaps are, what’s the next step?

 

Ben  Rao  26:49

The selection piece is a combination of both some strategies on selecting a community and some tools to help do some side by side and help you understand what is it that you really need, and what’s going to be good for the person that’s transitioning into care. The other part of that area is about getting the family on the same page. And everybody understanding that we’re moving together and some of it in terms of and we’re as we kind of stray into the transition, we’re not forcing a senior to do something, you know, they need to be part of the process. You know, in the last part of the book, we talked about transitioning, I take a few chapters to start talking about different things that are available, how do you increase your mobility, you know, looking at nutrition and diet, you know, just light exercise can make all the difference in the world for mobility and extending out, you know, keeping your body elastic and bone density and the things that are important as we get older. The other thing that’s really interesting, and I see, I see a big wave coming is technology, you know, the technology and in the senior space from products like Alexa, but it’s made Alexa on steroids, you know, made to be able to interact with the senior and be able to, you know, do video and call out and reminders on meds and you know, asking how I feel today and guidance and surveys and things just to help tell a joke, all these different things, right? Those are really interesting. I see a lot of chip technology coming out monitor chips that can monitor things like a chip on the cabinet of your medicine cabinet. They can monitor how many times have been opened or closed the day, moisture on beds, tags on pads, doors, you know, my refrigerators, yes, I ate well, gee, I had orange juice, and I had eggs. Okay, well, your refrigerator didn’t open at all. There’s some really, really interesting artificial intelligence coming into the senior space monitoring patterns of, you know, you get out of bed, always between this time you get out on this side of the bed, you walk this way you do that it takes you this long, and starting to starting to guess on outcomes and what’s happening. So when you stray out of your normal routines, it’s, you know, starts to think, Oh, do we have a problem? Is there an issue did a senior fall, right? We’re trying to fix fall prevention. So there’s a lot of stuff. That’s very encouraging, that’s coming.

 

Liz Craven  29:11

That’s really exciting. That’s exciting to hear about all of the innovation and I know robotics are gonna play a large role in that too. So let’s talk about transitioning because that probably, for most families is the hardest part really. I mean, the searching for information and trying to figure it all out. That’s the most stressful part as it relates to just knowing what to do. But then when it comes time to transition, especially if your loved one is not really crazy about the idea, let’s talk about that.

 

Ben  Rao  29:44

You know, getting ahead of it and understanding what to expect. So, you know, when you found the care community that you’re going to move into really understanding what’s going on there, possibly getting them involved before having some thoughtfulness to plan for their space. You know, just deciding what to bring, you’re going, you know, most people are going from 2500 square feet down to 150 square feet, you know, you can’t bring all 12 canes, you can’t bring seven bird cages, you can’t bring 25, your favorite hats, you can’t bring all this stuff. Each one of those is a trigger point for emotion. So really getting on the same page and having a plan with that, getting a space set up before they move in. So when they come in, it feels comfortable when there’s things that recognize the recliner, those kinds of things, you know, and it’s not going to be perfect, it takes some time to adjust. You know, it may be that the first two to four weeks is bumpy, and they’re not happy. And it’s gonna take some time. I mean, I know that that’s the way I would feel. It’s a really emotional time that people just are not ready for. It’s hard. I know what I remember moving Tom in. And you know, Tom’s a really proud guy. He wasn’t quite a man’s man, but he’s pretty much a man’s man. And, you know, to see his health degrade, and to see him be reliant, you know, for having to go to the bathroom or those things. And it’s embarrassing. They just want the How can we give our seniors dignity? How can we give them support? How can we help families that have emotional stress doing that, you know, in some of the I tried to address some of those things, and I can’t address them all. But hopefully, the website, you know, will continue to grow from the book and expand out as we learn more and get more and have more contributing writers and other things come in and provide more information, we’ll just continue to grow that support.

 

Liz Craven  31:30

And there are ways to mitigate the downside of the move. I know from my father in law, when we started shopping for assisted living communities. You know, he had made a decision early on, he had Alzheimer’s, and he knew when his dementia started, that at some point, he was going to need to move, he didn’t want to live with family, he still wanted to maintain as much independence as possible as long as he could. And so we all went together, looking at assisted living communities, and the ones who addressed him, as the future resident, were the ones that got the serious love those who addressed the family without even engaging with him and asking him what his thoughts were, those were not even an option, we just bypass them completely. But it was the one that really engaged with him on a personal level, and really worked to find out what his desires and wants and needs were, that’s where he ended up and he had a wonderful and positive experience there. They were fantastic. And the transition wasn’t too bad, because he felt really confident about it going in. But that’s really important. You know, ageism is a really horrible thing all the way through, but especially when an older adult gets to the end. And people want to view them as as not a whole person. So that’s, that’s my piece about transition, you know, the more you can engage your loved one, in making decisions and making sure that you’re not speaking to them, like a child, they’re not a child, they’ve got some challenges that they’re working through, and they’ve got some emotions they’re working through, and it might not be going the way they want it to. But we still need to engage them as whole real people. And that will make these transitions a bit better. So is there one piece of the whole process that really struck your family the most?

 

Ben  Rao  33:32

I think it scared the hell out of me when I started going through assisted living communities just because it was like, it was just like, it was so honest, just to see a lot of people that age, and it just felt like, Oh, my gosh, this is real. This is real.

 

Liz Craven  33:49

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to confront that. Because these are people like you said before that you’ve looked up to your whole life. And you get to that point where you know, things are changing, and there’s nothing that you can do about it. But you got to just I guess, take a deep breath and enjoy every moment and make the most out of every one of those moments and know that you know i for 1am a big fan of assisted living communities when it’s the right situation for the right person. These folks are amazing at providing care. They’re loving and fun environments where my father in law lived. There was like parties every single day. We spent a lot of time there. Yeah, they weren’t great, great food and music all the time. People coming in with different instruments and giving live performances and dances and all kinds of great things. And, you know, a transition in life is never easy, but I guess it’s what we make of it. And if we are diligent about doing our research, and following the process that you’ve laid out in the book, so that we get it right It can be a very positive experience. So thank you for putting that together because it it, I think it will be a very big help to a lot of families.

 

Ben  Rao  35:10

I hope so, you know, it’s, um, you know, only 10% of the people that are going to need care, have a long term care insurance policy that tells us 90% of people don’t.

 

Liz Craven  35:20

And that in itself is changing. If you don’t already have a policy, there are fewer and fewer decent policies out there to secure. But for those who do have policies, that is something you want to engage with your professional team on and make sure that you’re taking full advantage of anything that’s available to you. I think a lot of people miss out on some of that. So where can people connect with you?

 

Ben  Rao  35:48

I’m easy to find on LinkedIn. So on LinkedIn, you can put my just first name is Ben B, and last name is radio are a Oh, I would recommend people could go to paying for long term care comm there, they can get access to lots of different free resources. If they want to copy the book, they can order their or they can go to Amazon and just in the Amazon search, just put paying for long term care. And you’ll find me it’s on Kindle, and it’s on the paperback. So you know, thank you so much for helping me to get the message out and sharing it with your audience. Really appreciate you having me on list,

 

Liz Craven  36:24

of course, glad to have you on. And I’ll make sure that all of the links to everything that Ben just mentioned, again, are in the show notes, and in the blog post for Episode 48. And also in our newsletter that we send out weekly to listeners. So don’t worry about jotting those down, we’ll have those readily available for you. So the last thing I want to ask you, Ben is do you have a piece of sage advice that you’d like to leave our listeners with?

 

Ben  Rao  36:54

Oh, no, so much pressure. So much. Just in life or

 

Liz Craven  37:02

Anything. You know, I think most of us don’t most of us have that thing. You know, our own little mantra, our own little piece of life that we feel very inspired by what would that be for you.

 

Ben  Rao  37:15

I’m a pretty optimistic guy, and have been, you know, my entire life. And I feel like that we have a lot of control over how we react to any situation. And we have a choice on whether the we that it’s we want to take it negatively or we want to take it positively. When something bad happens to us. It’s in our own control to whether or not that we want to forgive or let something go versus having it control us. And, you know, having having that held over us as soon as you forgive somebody, it’s a great power to yourself to live a happy life and release those those negative feelings from you. So I’m pretty quick to forgive people, you know, holding resentment or revenge or any of those types of things are really negative. And they they weigh very heavily. And I don’t think people try hard enough to let things go.

 

Liz Craven  38:05

I love it. That is fantastic advice. I think everybody would do very well to take that on on their own. Well, thank you for joining me, Ben. It’s been a great conversation, and I appreciate you being here.

 

Ben  Rao  38:19

Thanks, Liz. I appreciate it again.

 

Liz Craven  38:23

And thank all of you for listening. The topics are endless, aren’t they? Well, we’re gonna continue to peel away the layers each week for you. So keep coming back. You’ve got this, you can do this. caregiving is hard. I know it’s hard. The more information you arm yourself with, the better off you’ll be. And as I mentioned earlier, sage aging is turning one so come celebrate with us on social media. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite moments and clips from the year there so I hope you’ll join me. You can find Sage aging on Instagram and Facebook and you can find me Liz Craven on LinkedIn. If social media isn’t your thing that is okay you can get the sage aging podcast and newsletter sent straight to your inbox super easy to do. Just go to Sage aging comm scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and enter your email there to subscribe. Thanks again for listening friends. We’ll talk real soon

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.