By Alicia Doyle, Ventura County Star

People need a clear understanding about the costs they face as they and the people for whom they care age, according to Marianne Knight, who has worked in senior care for 20 years.

“This means knowing what your loved one’s wishes are, what options are available in their community and how they plan on paying for those services,” said Knight, a Ventura County Homecare Association board member and an advisory council member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. She also serves on the planning committee for Senior Care Outreach Professionals.

Knight will join a panel of experts Thursday to present a free talk, “I Can’t Get Old I Can’t Afford It,” at the Goebel Senior Adult Center in Thousand Oaks.

“Our goal with this discussion is to give people an understanding of costs related to immediate care,” Knight said. “Also, why it is so important that they themselves have a plan in place so that their family members are not repeating the same situation.”

The presentation will offer a snapshot of care services in the community and their costs, including caregiving services in the home, assisted-living facility costs, nursing homes and transportation.

“Since so many in our community have not done research on these types of services and costs, this will be an eye-opener,” Knight said. “Very few families we work with have the financial plan in place to choose the type of care they need and desire, on their own terms and still be able to manage.”

A representative from Senior Concerns will discuss Medicare and insurance, and a financial planner will address why boomer retirements won’t be like their parents’. Someone will talk about housing in the county ands trends for seniors and their housing needs, Knight said.

Older adults need to know the support that is available, how to use their money appropriately and how to take care of any Medicare and Social Security changes before the last possible minute, said Andrea Koval, recreation supervisor for the Conejo Recreation and Park District.

“Housing as we get older is a big topic and what to do when you can no longer age in your home,” Koval said. “What to do and where to go are big questions and concerns, along with the cost of group homes, independent and assisted living, house sharing. … They all have a cost to them.”

When the economy was good, “People simply said, ‘I will just sell mom’s home, and we will use that money to pay for her care,’ ” Knight said. “This is hardly the best option today, if it’s an option at all.”

Many families are struggling to pay for their children’s education while supplementing the cost of a mother’s care.

“This is an enormous source of stress in families today,” Knight said. “We want to see people enjoying their loved ones as they age and feeling good about the care services they are choosing rather than worry about how they are going to pay for it.”

Most families do not discuss aging with their loved ones and shy away from age-related topics, she added. “For example, if a loved one should need a nursing home in the future, do they have a preference? If it is their wish to remain in the home and receive help? Do they have a plan in place?”

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