Preparing for the living care of a loved one can be overwhelming — especially when an unexpected event comes before those first steps.
For actress Angela Bassett, her past experience serving as a caretaker for her mother and mother-in-law led the Golden Globe Award-winner to partner with long term care insurance company, Genworth to help push a national dialogue and educate Americans about planning for the care of an aging loved one.
Currently on the second leg of the initiative’s #LetsTalkTour, Bassett opened up about how her family prepared for the living care of her mother-in-law after her diagnosis with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“The thing about aging is we know it’s coming. We thought with her athleticism [at age 75] that we had another 15 or 20 years before something would come on so suddenly,” she told HuffPost.
As Genworth’s official spokesperson, Bassett says she aims to engage the many Americans who will confront the challenge of arranging for the care of an aging loved one and educate them on potential options.
“It really is about — not selling anything to anybody — but really just taking the first step to plan for the future by having a conversation, and sometimes a conversation about aging and age is a difficult one,” she said. “But a lot of conversations are tough to have, but it’s vital that we do have them. So we’re hoping to create empathy, educate, and just open up dialogue.”
While she said her mother-in-law chose at-home care, Bassett’s mother decided to live in an assisted living facility in Florida prior to her 2014 passing. Despite finding a facility that catered to her mother’s needs, Basset said that costs can be highly expensive, for which Medicare/Medicaid often does not provide full coverage.
According to a 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs, nursing care can cost over $90,000 annually, assisted living over $42,000. The average cost of home health aide services are estimated at $21,000 annually.
Bassett went on to attribute the high prices of assisted living care as a contributing factor for why some in the African-American community resort to at-home care instead.
“In our community sometimes we move in with our parents, and move them into our homes and take care of them,” she said. “But even in that situation, where you have unpaid care they’ve found that you still end up paying on an average $8,000 to cover costs that aren’t covered by other means. So it’s just something that you have to have dialogue about and consider so that your parents, your lifestyle, and your expectations meet your financial reality.”
In terms of tips for caregiver’s managing their own personal lives while tending to others, the “American Horror Story” star found that remaining positive and finding grace is helpful for both the person who is being cared for and the caretaker.
These are the same traits she hopes her caretakers will express with her one day, with “ grace, dignity and try to find the beauty in any moment,” she said. “I like things in order and decently done, but I would hope to be cared for by loved ones and be surrounded by love.”