Poor Seniors – Needing Care – What Will They Do?

Poor Seniors – Needing Care – What Will They Do?

older-woman-with-caneAround 12.9% percent of seniors live in poverty in this nation. They can’t ever enjoy a nice retirement or assisted living community with services! It broke my heart to participate in a health fair at a senior center in Riverside, California a week ago. About a 1000 seniors attended.

Most seniors were looking for Section 8 or HUD Housing retirement options. What are these options? It’s renting an apartment based on a percentage of their income or a flat fee. It is simply an apartment building that houses seniors. The senior will most likely not have onsite services and support as they age and dementia begins.

Subsidized senior housing typically does not offer meals, entertainment, wellness classes, transportation to medical appointments or pay for a senior’s cable TV.

It’s disheartening to know that American seniors will be pushed aside to fend for themselves. Why is America trying to save the world and can’t take care of our own seniors? In many states, low-income seniors have no way to afford assisted living. Sure we have Medicaid and Medical when a senior becomes almost completely incapacitated and needs skilled nursing care.

What about that in-between step when a senior needs support either physically, mentally, nutritionally or is lost in dementia? What about that intermediate stage when it has become too difficult to grocery shop or cook for themselves. What about when a senior’s arthritic fingers can’t open a jar or button a blouse?   Maybe they can rely on family, friends or neighbors? What if they need help at 7:00 AM or in the middle of the night? What if they don’t ask for help?

I spoke with seniors at the health fair who lived with their adult children. Other seniors had grandchildren depending on them for support. Finally, several seniors had adult daughters caring for them. I asked one frail couple, “What is your plan for your future health care?” They told me that their daughter will take care of them. I asked, “What happens when your care becomes more than your daughter can handle?” (I really wanted to ask if they were willing for their daughter to toilet them at some point.) They were sweetly oblivious to my inquiry and said that she would be able to handle it.

We have a crisis in this country. What can we do about it? Many seniors are living below the national poverty line. They can’t afford to bring in home care, nor can they afford senior housing. Meals-on-Wheels is a wonderful resource, but seniors have to be willing to ask for help.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Diane Masson is a sought after author, blogger, speaker and regional marketing director.  She is very passionate about advocating for seniors on a nationwide basis and educating them about their future choices.  She just published a book to help seniors take the guess work out of selecting senior housing options or staying home.  It is called, “Your Senior Housing Options.”  Her other book has been popular with senior housing professionals on a nationwide basis.  It is called, “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full.”  You can contact her through her website at tips2seniors.com.


  1. Diane, reading your article brought tears to my eyes.
    This is such a horrible situation and one that many of us will face at some time.
    I think of myself and not having children or grandchildren to help me out should I need it.
    What about all the single seniors? What will happen to us?
    It’s imperative that we figure this out before we need it! Group homes? Co-Housing Communities? We definitely need more conversations about this and we need it now.
    I thank you for bringing this up.

    I also want to address those Seniors who are not on poverty level, possibly those who have children and grandchildren helping out. What about the costs of assisted living, even if that assistance is within the home of the loved ones or in their own home? It’s expensive! And no one wants to become a financial burden on their heirs.

    Many Seniors have Life Insurance Policies that can provide the funds to care for them now, when they need it. Most people still do not understand that a Life Insurance Policy
    is considered personal property. As such, it can be sold, just like a home or a car.

    Do you know that more than 80% or Life Insurance Policies are never paid off by the insurers? People get to be a certain age and they decide they no longer want, need or can afford them, so they let them go without exploring the secondary marketplace. Won’t you please help disperse this important information and resource? When someone sells a policy it is called a Life Settlement. If the insured person has a terminal illness, a Viatical Settlement and the cash they obtain from the sale is tax-free!

    I have been specializing in liquidating in-force Life Policies since 1991. I would welcome a conversation with you about this. Let’s together, help get necessary funds into Senior’s hands so they can live the rest of their lives the best way they possibly can!

    My warmest regards to you,

  2. I wonder this every day. I work in senior housing, private pay only. I will not even be able to afford to live in my own building. I hear gut wrenching stories at least once a week by people who are calling looking for subsidized. Breaks my heart….and makes me worried about my future at the same time.