How Senior Living Costs Can Devastate Middle-Class Americans

Boosting affordability is top of mind for many senior housing providers, as it’s becoming increasingly obvious that many baby boomers will struggle to pay for senior living—even those who are comfortably in the middle class.

That’s already the stark reality for 60-year-old Kuna, Idaho, resident Betsy Winkler, according to a report in the Idaho Statesman.

Winkler’s husband, 69-year-old David Winkler, has Alzheimer’s disease. He lives and receives care at Ashley Manor Memory Care community in Boise, Idaho, for which the couple currently pays $48,000 per year.

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But the Winklers, together, only earn about $51,600 per year, primarily through Social Security and pensions.

This means that Betsy Winkler has to live on approximately $740 each month—though she tries to limit herself to spending just $30 per month, so she can put away savings in case her husband’s care needs increase.

“When his bill goes up to $5,300 [per month], where’s that money going to come from?” Winkler told the Idaho Statesman. “So I’m doing my best to live as minimalist as possible, so I’ve got money in the bank, so that when I have to pay more I have it.”

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Winkler believes she currently has enough money saved to cover the anticipated shortfall for 22 months once her husband’s assisted living bill exceeds their income and assistance. In the meantime, to make ends meet, she searches her local grocery store’s dumpster for fruit and vegetables to eat every week.

“There’s peppers, asparagus, lettuce. Here’s a whole bag of potatoes and some apples,” she tells the publication while searching the dumpster. “They’re starting to get bad, so [the grocery store] toss[es] them out. But there’s some nice potatoes. See? It’s just not up to their quality.”

Read the full Miami Herald report here.

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Written by Mary Kate Nelson