Diana Flores describes herself as “a different type of caregiver.”
Her goal is to see Minnesota seniors gain a better understanding of their financial needs during their Golden Years and find a way to achieve them. As the Business Office Manager at Volunteers of America’s Maplewood Care Center, she helps incoming seniors and their families take the right steps to create a stable long-term care plan.
“It’s really important because people don’t know the financial piece,” Flores said. “We play a huge role in their care. They come to me when they have questions about their options and how they are going to pay for their care.”
Flores is originally from Chicago, where she worked for various nursing homes in their social service and business departments. She moved to Anoka, Minn., in late 2012 with her husband and three children because of the higher cost of living in Chicago. Flores is thankful for the opportunities here in Minnesota like affordable housing, good education for her children and proper autism diagnosis and care for her son.
“If we stayed in Chicago, who knows if he would have ever been diagnosed correctly,” Flores said. “I’m certain we would not have been able to buy a home.”
Flores builds trust with the seniors she works with by sharing her experiences helping her grandparents and parents navigate their long-term care. “I can relate to them and find common ground,” she said.
When Flores’s parents were ready retire and start their aging journey, they didn’t feel the urgency to discuss their finances. Like many seniors, they believed they would be fine because they worked long and hard their entire lives, Flores recalled.
But planning ahead means planning for financial emergencies. “One ended up in the hospital, and they had to liquidate their assets,” Flores said.
Minnesota’s senior population has been surging in recent years. By 2025, one in four Minnesotans will be 65 or older, which means more families will need to have the conversation with their senior loved ones about how to manage their lives as they get older.
While discussing long-term care finances can be a difficult process, Flores said the hard conversations are worth it. “When they finally have the comfort of knowing that they have something to contribute to their family, that’s very satisfying.”
Flores suggests that seniors and their families start planning for their care by asking the following basic questions:
- How long can I live independently?
- How will I put money in a trust?
- Do we downsize earlier, if necessary?
- How do I finance my house?
“It’s important to involve as many people as possible,” she said.
Flores also hopes to see more communities and organizations work together to offer financial education and planning for long-term care. “Communities really need workshops that offer financial help and housing resources,” she said.
Diana is grateful she gets to help seniors on their aging journey as they plan to transition into long-term care.
“This role encompasses both the business and the caregiver side,” Flores said. “I’m learning as I go with the people I work with.”
Andrea Magaña is a regulator contributor to Face Aging MN. If you want to reach her or have any questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you.