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Posted by Lifecare Affordability Plan on 02/25/2023

Challenging Choices: Caregiver finds guiding lights

Challenging Choices: Caregiver finds guiding lights

Every journey starts somewhere. Tanya Bodzin’s journey as a caregiver started when her husband of 55 years, Steve, began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Tanya had to take on the role of caregiver and began managing the couple’s finances, something she’d never handled before. Luckily, she found support from local providers and experts early on in her journey. With their assistance, Tanya, a counselor by profession, cared for her husband, secured their financial future, and planned for her own retirement.

The first lesson that Tanya learned is that senior living providers in the DC Metropolitan region are a close-knit, interconnected, and supportive group. Caregivers often find that when they ask for help, they get not just the help they asked for but also recommendations for other options.

Becoming a Caregiver

Steve, a successful and accomplished tax attorney, initially hid his memory issues. However, Tanya eventually became aware that he was having problems at the office. 

As Tanya transitioned into the role of caregiver, a Fairfax County Senior Center she visited recommended her to the Insight Memory Care Center, where she received incredible support and education for caregivers, as well as adult day care services for Steve.

Insight Memory Care is a non-profit center with locations in Fairfax and Sterling, VA. The centers provide care, support, and education for individuals with memory impairments and their families.

“Steve started going to Insight Memory Care two days a week, but then we moved to three and eventually to five days a week,” Tanya recalled. “Otherwise, he was with me in the apartment all the time. I learned that is not the way to take care of somebody with dementia. They need the stimulation of other people. They need games and activities. One person cannot provide that.”

Tanya quickly found that the environment provided at Insight couldn’t be replicated in her home—even with the help of home care aides. “The aides were on their phones while Steve was watching TV. I knew he really needed to be in an environment that was more stimulating, so he went to Insight five days a week, eventually.”

During an Insight workshop for caregivers by Senior Partner Tom West, Tanya first learned about Signature Estate & Investment Advisors (SEIA) and the Lifecare Affordability Plan.

Securing Her Financial Future

As a successful tax attorney, Steve had invested well and worked with a financial broker for years, but Tanya was never involved. Now planning for their financial future was added to her overflowing plate. When she heard about SEIA’s focus on helping seniors in the post-retirement years when healthcare needs arise and their unique Lifecare Affordability Plan offering, Tanya knew she needed that type of hands-on help.

The Lifecare Affordability Plan is a healthcare-driven financial planning process that provides families with a strategy to afford quality care and plan for the future. Over the course of three meetings, experts help families devise a plan to afford the care that can meet their loved one’s needs within their financial means. Afterward, families feel less anxious and more confident about their options.

“After talking with Tom [West, Senior Partner] about what was in our financial portfolio, I called the broker Steve had been working with for years,” explained Tanya. “That broker told me he could also help people like me with life decisions and that he wanted to churn my account. Well, I’m no dummy. I knew that every time he was buying or selling something new, he was getting a piece of the action. I said goodbye to him.”

Tom and his team, including the Client Services Director Arvette Reid, provide both traditional wealth management and the Lifecare Affordability Plan. As a full client, Tanya had access to both services. The team helped her understand and manage her finances. They also helped her find a full-time memory care community for Steve that fit their budget. Steve lived in a memory care community for the last year of his life.

Years after Steve passed away, Tanya knew it was time to focus on her future, so she completed a Lifecare Affordability Plan that included options for housing and future potential care needs. 

“We help people develop a realistic view of what they can afford in terms of senior living options and how far their money will go with different communities, contract types, and apartment sizes,” explained Arvette. “We are not a placement agency. We are generally looking at places that the client was already considering. We help them make a comprehensive apples-to-apples comparison of the options.”

Analyzing Her Options

The Lifecare Affordability Plan team originally ran the numbers for four retirement communities, so Tanya could clearly see her specific financial outcomes based on different community contract types and fee structures. However, it was COVID that provided the motivation Tanya needed to make a decision.

“COVID was so isolating. I couldn’t see my friends or anyone else,” Tanya said. “I knew it was time to move.”

During an open house at Greenspring, a continuing care community in Springfield, VA, Tanya told the Director of Sales that finding an apartment with abundant natural light was her top priority. He walked her over to an apartment that fit the bill. “When I came into this apartment for the first time, the sun was just pouring in, and I knew it was the right place,” Tanya noted. She called Arvette right away and signed a contract the next day.

Since moving, Tanya has been enjoying the diverse activities and amenities provided by the community. Most of all, she loves no longer being lonely.

“Greenspring is so friendly,” she said. “I’ve reconnected with people I knew before, and I’ve made lots of new friends. Meals are an event here. Residents make reservations, and there is always someone to go to dinner with. Or you can go by yourself, and you’ll meet new friends at the table. You never have to be alone.”

Tanya enjoys the onsite swimming pool and gym, as well as the plethora of clubs and activities. She recently started learning to play pickleball. “You can be busy 24 hours a day at Greenspring if you want to be,” Tanya concluded.

Taking on the caregiver role can mean facing many challenging choices. However, as Tanya found out, you can find professionals to help every step of the way—whether you need care for a loved one or financial planning for the future. Tanya was able to navigate her journey from overwhelmed caregiver to content retiree with the help of local experts who served as her guiding lights—marking the path forward every step of the way. 

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