Helping Families Navigate the Financial Challenges of Age Transitions

Category: Public Policy

Supreme Court hears case of 94 year old’s home foreclosure by the state.

The US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a 94-year-old woman who lost her home over unpaid property taxes. While the woman, Geraldine Tyler, does not dispute that Hennepin County had the right to foreclose on the $40,000 property, she argued that the county had violated the Constitution’s takings clause by keeping the $25,000 left over after the property was sold. Tyler’s attorney argued that the county should have taken Tyler’s condo, sold it to pay her debts and then refunded the remainder to her. The Biden administration filed a “friend of the court” brief in which it agreed with Tyler that the county’s actions violated the takings clause.

Whether the Court sides with Tyler or not (although it does appear that it will), it highlights the importance of having a trained and attentive financial caregiver who can pay any property taxes or other obligations that, if unpaid, can severely impact the older individual.

Source: Justices appear likely to side with homeowner in foreclosure dispute – SCOTUSblog

How Covid-19 Will Change Aging and Retirement – WSJ

As the pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health, it is also quietly reshaping how Americans will face retirement and old age in the years to come.The virus is bringing sweeping change, mainly by “accelerating developments already under way,” says physician and entrepreneur Bill Thomas. For example, “isolation of older people has long been a problem, but Covid is focusing attention on the issue and adding urgency” to address it.

In this Wall Street Journal Article, writer Anne Tergesen reports on some of the effects that the COVID virus could have on aging and society. Among her findings:

  1. More will age at home.
  2. Older people will benefit from a technology boom.
  3. Lifespans will decline. (Though perhaps only for the short term)
  4. We will have a better handle on what we want to do with our time.
  5. We will plan for death.
  6. We will embrace healthier lifestyles.
  7. We need to save more to retire.
  8. The 401(k) will morph into a multipurpose account.
  9. We will work longer.
  10. Our views on aging will change.

Source: How Covid-19 Will Change Aging and Retirement – WSJ

In France, Postal workers deliver more than Christmas Cards.

French postal workers will be delivering more than Christmas packages and greeting cards this holiday season. A service that began in France in 2017 called Veiller Sur Mes Parents (“Watch Over My Parents”) employs the country’s postal service workers to check on their older customers and report their well-being to family members.

A month of these weekly visits plus an emergency-call button costs about $40.00. The fee is collected by the French postal service. Every day except Sunday, postal workers inform the program’s subscribers, through an app, if their elderly relatives are “well”: if they require assistance with groceries, home repairs, outings, or “other needs.” Since V.S.M.P. was introduced, about six thousand elderly women and fifteen hundred elderly men have been enrolled across the country.

The program is just one of several that have been implemented in order to bring better financial stability to the country’s postal service, where volume is down by nearly 50% from ten years ago, and revenues from postage cannot support the quasi-public postal service. In some places, French postal workers now pick up prescriptions, return library books, and deliver flowers. Last year, only 28% of La Poste’s revenue came from sending mail.

Could this work in the U.S.? About 28 percent of older adults in the United States, or 13.8 million people, live alone, according to a report by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Like the French postal service, the United States Postal Service is also hemorrhaging financially, reporting nearly $2.3 Billion of losses in the third quarter of 2019 among the backdrop of falling volume. In her third-quarter report, Postmaster General Megan Brennan stated that the Postal Service’s “largely fixed and mandated costs continue to rise at a faster rate than the revenues that can be generated within a constrained business model, which is ill-suited to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Postal Service.”

Why couldn’t postal workers become a front-line force for checking in on isolated and elderly customers along their daily routes? What a tremendous use of under-utilized resources and an added revenue source for the USPS! France seems to have taken a very capitalistic lead on a very social issue; one that will address both the concern families have for their aging loved ones living alone as well as the financial losses experienced by their postal service.


Poll, Z. and Poll, Z. (2019). In France, Elder Care Comes with the Mail. [online] The New Yorker. Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2019].

National Institute on Aging. (2019). Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2019]. (2019). U.S. Postal Service Reports Third Quarter Fiscal 2019 Results – Newsroom – [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2019].

House Calls Provide Better Care and Save Money. Why Don’t More Use Them?

At least 2 million older adults would benefit from home-based primary care, according to Health Affairs. Because these patients have difficulty getting to an office visit, they frequently end up in emergency rooms or hospitals.

Per-patient savings range from $1,000 to $4,000 annually through reduced hospital and nursing home stays, emergency room trips and specialist visits, according to research cited by the American Academy of Home Care Medicine.

According to the American Academy of Home Care Medicine, the CMS Independence at Home Demonstration, part of the Affordable Care Act, estimated that Medicare would save $10 to $15 billion total over a 10-year period if home-based primary care were extended nationally to those on Medicare who are homebound.

Source: House Calls Provide Better Care and Save Money. Why Don’t More Use Them?

Why Aren’t More Women Working? They’re Caring for Parents 

A recent New York Times article profiles the lives of women who have no other option than to drop out of the work-force to care for an aging parent, at significant cost to the economy.

The burden of care for aging relatives is reshaping the lives of millions of others. About 15 percent of women and 13 percent of men 25 to 54 years old spend time caring for an older relative, according to the Labor Department. Among those 55 to 64, the share rises to one in five Americans. And 20 percent of these caregivers also have children at home.

Are you liable for your parent’s nursing home bills? 

Unbeknownst to most Americans, more than half of U.S. states (29 plus Puerto Rico) have “filial responsibility” laws in effect that could potentially obligate adult children to support their impoverished parents. That includes paying the tab for basic necessities like food, housing, clothing, and medical attention, according to Little.

Source: Are you liable for your parent’s nursing home bills? | MassMutual

Turns out however that even states with such laws rarely enforce them, mainly because they weren’t needed after Medicaid became available, but also because federal laws enacted in 2016 prohibit nursing homes from requiring payment from third parties. In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:

  • The parent received care in a state that has a filial responsibility law.
  • The parent did not qualify for Medicaid when receiving care.
  • The parent does not have the money to pay the bill.
  • The child has the money to pay the bill.
  • The caregiver chooses to sue the child.

Nevertheless, as the cost of long term care stresses the funding limits of Medicaid, and with Medicaid planning used as an asset preservation strategy of those with significant assets, don’t be surprised if public opinion influences legislation that shifts more of the cost burden on the family and away from the government.

Senators slam abuse in nursing homes; criticize CMS over reporting requirements 

If there’s anything that will bring a bipartisan group of U.S. senators together, it’s the topic of abuse in nursing homes and a hearing Tuesday was proof yet again.Abuse deficiencies cited in nursing homes more than doubled in four years, increasing from 430 in 2013 to 875 in 2017, a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday found. The most common physical and verbal abuse was by staff, at 58%, investigators said.

Source: Senators slam abuse in nursing homes; criticize CMS over reporting requirements – McKnight’s Long Term Care News

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