Managing Your Parent’s Healthcare with Lara Harris

Caring for an elderly parent can feel like you’re putting your life on hold. Between appointments, insurance plans and long term care, you barely get time for yourself.

But as today’s guest Lara Harris will show, there are ways to make it easier.

As the owner of Caring Senior Service, she provides non-medical care to senior citizens between San Antonio and Austin. And in this episode, she’s here to help you find the right care for your parents.

In this episode, you’ll discover the kinds of care available for your elderly loved ones, so you can rest assured they can live their twilight years as fully as possible while still getting the care they need.

Tune in now for a practical, informative conversation that will make managing your parent’s healthcare easier.

Show Highlights Include:

  • 3 questions that help you find a nursing home that actually cares about your loved one ([11:22])
  • A government website that weeds out dodgy nursing homes before your parents go there ([11:51])
  • Why your parent might be happiest in a residential care home (even if they would rather die than be dragged to a nursing home) ([12:47])
  • A unique “adult day care” service that lets working professionals take care of their parents without taking time off work (or sending them to a nursing home) ([13:52])


Managing Your Parent’s Healthcare with Lara Harris



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money?


Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? So welcome to the Retire In Texas Podcast, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas. And now here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


([00:29]): Welcome to Retire in Texas podcast. My name is Darryl Lyons. I’m the CEO and co-founder of PACS financial group. PAX Financial Group is the sponsor of this program. So be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com and I’ve gotta share the disclosure. Before we get started, this material contains general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment tax or legal advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information, investment advisory services offered through PAX Financial Group. I also wanna remind you that if you text the phone number seven four eight six eight, and put in the text, Texas, we will send you a retire in Texas ebook for free that’s 7 4 8 6 8, and just put in that text, Texas. And so today’s shows a little different. And so I wanna make sure that I kind of unpack it and kind of give you, I wanna kind of give you a little bit of background before we jump in Laura and Laura Harris is here. 


([01:24]): So, you know, when I first started in this business, like I was trying to find clients everywhere. This is 20 years ago and I came across this guy and he was watching CNBC. And, uh, I went to his house, you know, at the time I’d go to everyone’s house and he was watching CNBC, watching the markets and he didn’t wanna invest with me because, you know, I was, was young. He knew the stuff, but he did want to help me. And so he let me sell them a long term care insurance policy. And I was happy to help. I figured out how to do it at the time. And about a month later, his wife was diagnosed with dementia and he told me specifically, he said, that was the best investment decision I’ve ever made. <laugh> and it just had never was, has never lost on me from that day. And I respected him so much and his family that this idea of having dialogue as a financial advisor relative to chronic care issues is critically important. And so I wanted to make sure that I brought in Laura here to shed some light on what it looks like to provide this type of care in Texas. And so thank you for showing up today, long intro, but thank you. 


([02:30]): Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me and giving me the, uh, opportunity to talk. My mom and I, we own a business called, uh, caring senior service. Um, it is a franchise. Um, I was born and raised here in San Antonio. Um, I’ve been married to my husband for almost 16 years. We have two daughters, um, one Avery 12 and Ali eight. We have kind of a unique family. Um, both of us are only children. Um, and so we love to travel when we have time. Um, typically, our mom’s tag along when You have time. Exactly. 


([02:57]): Yeah. And our moms come because there’s only six of us. We love, uh, being at the lake professionally. I studied at commercial and residential interior design at St. Mary’s University, which is your Alma mater. Yes. And I, uh, I did not know that by the way. No, You didn’t. Yeah, but after graduating, God clearly directed my life down a completely different path. Um, and it’s really hard to believe, but I’ve been working in this industry and senior care for almost 15 years. 


([03:22]): So what’s the name of the company again? Tell me one more time. It’s caring senior service,  Caring, senior service in what town It’s a franchise. So our main headquarters is here in San Antonio, but we have almost 50 locations throughout the country. Our office is actually in new Braunfels and our territory is about 70 miles. 


([03:41]): So you service the people that need, and we’ll talk about the type of care in new Braunfels and, and kind of the greater New Braunfels area that like at Segui maybe in canyon lake or how does that look? Yes. So we go between, uh, San Antonio in Austin, all directions. Okay. And so y’all have nurses, So they’re non medical Non-medical okay. Yes. And so we do all of the non-skilled care to keep a person safe in their home. So can you gimme an example of what that looks like? 


([04:08]): Sure. So, um, we help with any kind of personal needs that someone would have bathing dressing, those kinds of things. We help with meal preparation and planning. Uh, especially if they have like a, a especi diet they need, we help with transportation, medication reminders, things like that. 


([04:25]): When I’ve studied this stuff over the years, I always hear the ADLs mm-hmm <affirmative> activities, the daily living, eating bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, yes. Bowel movements, cognitive issues, those, but some of those issues, like, even as I think about it are non, like, to your point, non-medical eating right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so can we tease that one out for a second, but somebody might need help with just eating, right? 


([04:47]): Yes. So once if someone has something like ALS or they have cognitive issues that prevent them from understanding how to use a fork or spoon or anything like that, they would require feeding. So those are the kinds of things that are our staff does. So when you say our staff, do you call your staff caregivers or? Okay. Like caregivers, some of them are actually, um, they’re certified, um, and they’re called, uh, certified nurses. A, but we don’t have to hire those, but we can, 


([05:13]): It’s a, just a higher level of, uh, training maybe. Correct. So how do you know, like here’s a challenge, so somebody’s listening and, and, you know, our audience is, the demographics are wide, but a lot of people are in their fifties and sixties listening. And so their parents may have passed or maybe in their eighties, seventies, eighties, but they’re asking themselves, I may need Laura sometime, but how do, how do they trust these caregivers? Like how do you screen them? How do you find them? 


([05:41]): So we do two different background checks, one local, and then we do a national background check and we do reference checks. So we will get at least three personal and at least three previous work references check those. And we just, we vet ’em yeah. And make sure that they have good references And you monitor them, make sure. Yeah. 


([06:00]): Yes. One of the things that Texas has is, um, a regulatory body called the Texas department of health and human services, Uhhuh <affirmative> and they require us to do supervisory visits. And so there’s that oversight. Our agency is a little different it, because we go in at a minimum of every three months to make sure that everything is okay. Okay. But some everybody’s different, but you know, we go in every three months at a minimum to check on the families yes. To check on the families, make sure that their care hasn’t changed, make sure that they’re happy with the people we’re sending out those of things. 


([06:33]): Okay. Yeah. Good. And do you, you know, I have so many quite regarding this service because it’s such a need right now. We often think of like nursing home care mainly, but here we’re talking about non-medical care that you guys are providing now caring for seniors is like, as you’d mentioned a franchise. So can you help me distinguish what you guys do maybe compared to, to others? I mean, let’s say the industry in itself is a caregiving industry, not nursing, but just caregiving in that specific space. What makes you guys slightly different? 


([07:07]): Well, one thing that makes us different is the founder and, uh, CEO who started the franchise 30 years ago, he actually was able to get something called great care trademarked mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that requires us to provide quality caregivers. It requires us to make sure that we are communicating with the families, but not only the families going in and doing the care coordination with the other agencies that might be in the home, like home health or hospice. Yeah. Okay. And so we’re making sure that we know that we’re helping am and supporting them the best way we can also. 


([07:40]): So yeah, you could basically MIS coordinate and end up somebody who is, uh, providing a medical service, be there at the same time that you’re providing your service. Right. So you have to kind of coordinate those things. Correct. You know, what, if you’re listening right now, I just want you to know this is far from a commercial. This is more Laura Harris is somebody I know and trust. And I was really curious about what she does and I just find it to be a fascinating area of the marketplace. If you feel like this is a commercial, please know, that’s not my intent. My intent is for you to learn about caring for seniors and what this whole industry looks like. And so as I kind of give that full disclosure, I wanna make sure that people also know about you. How in the heck did you get in this business? And you’re not, if y’all saw Laura, she’s young and she’s in this. And so how did you get here? 


([08:24]): So, like I mentioned, a few minutes ago, my mom, she, I, God led me and Kathy Trusa who started the business almost 18 years ago. She’s my mom. And I saw her really struggling initially in the first few years because home care is a very hard business. Staffing is a challenge. And I really wanted to, she had the opportunity, she worked for corporate America for 35 years in healthcare. After I graduated, she had the opportunity to buy the perfect territory. She met Jeff through a volunteer organization. She worked with Jeff’s the CEO. 


([08:55]): Yes. Okay. Jeff’s the CEO and she bought the territory. And after I graduated, I saw her really struggling and I wanted to come help alleviate the stress that I saw and help build her business. And so I started working with her on October of 2007. 


([09:10]): Yeah. So the idea is, is look, Hey, I’m gonna get this business, the on pen and paper at looks like it’s a good business, the demographic trends of the aging population. It makes sense. And then you are like, okay, it pencils out. Well, a good economics. And, uh, then you say, okay. And then I have a heart to serve. And you’re like, okay. I found the perfect business and you’re excited. And then you’re like, holy cow, this is a lot. And so how do you handle the pressure of the responsibility that you have for these lives that you’re caring for? I mean, is there any way that you can gimme some context there? 


([09:42]): Sure. So one of the things, again, that our philosophy is, if we’re gonna commit to doing something we’re gonna follow through and we’re gonna do it. So when we tell these families and these clients that rely on us to be there, we will be there no matter what. So if that means on a Saturday morning, our staff doesn’t show up and we can’t restaff it with someone else. One of our care managers is going in and covering the shift so that they have what they need. And that’s huge that dependability it is. Yeah. Is the most important thing.  Yeah. For them to know that you’re there to 24 7. Is that, is that what I mean? 


([10:18]): We be sure. Yeah. Um, but most, I mean, it, it can be so flexible. Our services can be a minimum of one hour, one day a a week. Okay. All the way up to 24 7. 


([10:27]): Okay. Gotcha. So for those that are just tuning in, you’re listening to retire in Texas, uh, visit PAC’s financial group.com and you can get a 15 minute on there. It’s free, doesn’t cost anything. And you’ll find that there’s an advisor with a heart of a teacher PACS, financial group.com. So let’s talk a little bit about the types of care that exist in the marketplace. Now, again, as we talked about before the show, this could last forever. Can you kinda gimme the general types of care? We’ve we’re talking about one right now, which is non-medical what other types of exist in the marketplace. So there’s lots of options for facilities, Nursing, home, 


([11:01]): Nursing, home assisted livings nursing homes, or for those who really need the more skilled constant oversight, the assisted livings are gonna be the ones that don’t need as much care. And they wanting to remain social and active because there’s a lot more opportunity for them to be involved, assisted living 


([11:17]): In assisted living. Can I stop you for just, I’m so sorry, but I wanna ask you something as we, we, we talked about too nursing home and assisted living, but what advice would you give to somebody before they go and look at a nursing home? What’s the one thing that they should be looking at or asking, 


([11:31]): Ask what the supervisory oversight is and always check. I mean, obviously tour the facility, look at it, make sure it’s clean, you know, all of those things, but, and even asking people that currently live there, if, how, how do you like work living? Okay. How do you like being here, you know, and kind of getting that, that feedback. You can also ask for references. Okay. Um, and the one other thing that’s very important to know is that Texas has the Texas department of health and human services that regulates, they also will allow people to file complaints on their website. Okay. And if there is mistreatment or they feel there’s abuse going on or something, those claims are investigated. And then if there’s wrongdoing, it is posted. So you’re gonna wanna always check the website for that as well. 


([12:15]): Good point. So we’ve got nursing home, which, you know, my clients and many of, you know, my let’s, if you can picture one of my clients, I’m picturing at me, he’s got a cowboy hat and, you know, cattle and guns. And he’s like, I tell, I say, Hey, you need to think about this stuff. He’s like, oh, just take me outta the past and shoot me. I’m like, well, it doesn’t really quite work that way. And so a lot of people thinking, and so what he’s thinking about in his head is nursing home. Right. But then we have assisted living, which is more, it’s not as intense. I mean, I’m just paraphrasing here. And then what’s the next one. 


([12:45]): So there’s also something, if something, if somebody doesn’t wanna be in a nursing home, there’s something called a residential care home. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I will say these are typically a little bit harder to locate because they are literally in neighborhoods that have been, these houses have been transformed into a care facility. The ratio is a much smaller on a much smaller scale, which Is regulated, 


([13:04]): Which is regulated. Yes. They can be regulated if they have a certain amount of, of people and that live in them. So there are home environment. So you have a couple other people that live with you, but there is, and they’re 24 7 to make sure that they have their medications, food, all of those 


([13:17]): Things are these popular now. I mean, I’ve, I’ve heard of ’em and it seems like they’re starting to get at some traction. And so somebody has a house and they’re like, okay, I want to turn this, you know, I bought a house and I’m gonna refurbish it remodel, and I’m gonna turn this into care facility. What do you call that again? What kind of, what it’s called a residential care home, Residential care home. And then you have to get regulated with who? The state Regulator. Yeah. And then the state regulator requires a certain ratio. Right? Correct. What’s that ratio look like. I think It’s, if you have anybody over like three residents, you have to be regulated. Okay. And licensed. Okay. And so good. That helps me now what’s another one. 


([13:50]): Okay. So something else, our adult daycares, unfortunately, there’s not very many of these around to serve the population they need, but these are great for the working kids that wanna drop mom and dad off on their way to work and pick ’em up in the evening. But there’s just not enough of those around. 


([14:05]): Yeah. Okay. Interesting. And then of course there’s your all services that sure. Yeah. So, uh, non-medical we talked about, you know, eating medicine and somebody that can hire you for an an hour a week, or they can 24 7, but changing, like changing clothes, like what’s the most frequent type of service that you might provide. 


([14:24]): It’s really hard to say because it varies. There’s some people that when they first start coming on board with our service, they only need housekeeping. And then all of a sudden they’ve had a fall and they need help bathing from one day to the next. So it just changes so much and drastically. 


([14:40]): So it could be as simple as housekeeping. Exactly. Okay. And then you’ve got some home healthcare stuff, right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I mean, that’s a category, so that’s somebody that, but you, you wouldn’t put yourself under the home healthcare category, would 


([14:51]): You? Right? No, because they are actually skilled. And can I just make one other comment? Yeah. Yeah. Of the in-home care. Sometimes you’ll hear about people, hiring people, privately private caregivers, private staff. Yeah. That’s a great alternative to help with cost. However, there is some risk to that. So just for your listeners, they need to be sure to know that it will be the family’s responsibility to vet those individuals before they go into the home. Oh, that could be dangerous. Sure.  Yeah. So cuz they’re typically not bonded, they’re typically not insured. And so there is some risk with that. Yeah. Yeah. And that happens Yes. 


([15:23]): More so than you might think. I mean, look it’s um, they asked an old bank robber. I don’t remember who it was. Why do you Rob banks? And he goes, that’s where the money is. And it’s the same thing with seniors. Like why are there con artists there because that’s where the money is. And so we’ve seen it on the financial side, right? A lot of our clients who are seniors are, it feels, and you may, you may feel the same way, a moral obligation to protect these individuals from people trying to take advantage of them. And I know that you feel that and it’s moral responsibility. A but what you’re telling me is that there’s a group of an industry out there, people that are just raising their hands saying, I’ll change their diaper or I’ll feed them. Right. Or I’ll bathe them or I’ll give them medicine and I’m willing to do that. All the stuff that you don’t wanna do, but their motive is something else. Right. And that just is disgusting. I mean, and so what people don’t know is that there’s a company like yours that will do that. And they’re bonded, there’s oversight there’s regulation. And of course it’s gonna cost more. Right. I mean, that makes sense. But that’s fascinating to me to know that a lot of people don’t even know about your service mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. So without that being said, home healthcare hospice, right. Let’s talk about hospice. Yes. What’s that 


([16:31]): It’s a very MIS or stood, help and care. A lot of people when they hear the word hospice, they think that it’s imminent end of life, but that’s really not the case. Um, that to qualify, you have to have a, a terminal diagnosis with a prognosis of less than six months. But that being said, we’ve had patients be on hospice for years. We’ve had patients and clients that they’re on hospice and with the right medication management for their disease, they end up getting discharged from hospice cuz they no longer need the help. Mm. Um, can be very flexible. But the one thing that people need to know about hospice is that they have a team of doctors, nurses, clergy, volunteers, a huge team that will come in and help support, not only the client through the end of life care, but also their family. And they provide that up to a year after, as well, you know, in, in most cases. 


([17:25]): Okay. That’s good to know. So there’s some, there’s a lot to unpack just in hospice. Right. Okay. So, you know, I told you this would go by fast mm-hmm <affirmative> and so I wanna make sure we cover one point for y’all services, which I’m again, fine to be very interesting. Can people, do they privately pay for that or is there any alternative, can they pay with your, your services with insurance at all? 


([17:45]): No, unfortunately, well they’re okay for our agency. No. I will say that if the person qualifies because of lack of assets and, and they have lower income, Medicaid will come in and help for agencies to come in and assist. They will also help, uh, and pay for the long term care facilities. Typically our services are not covered by insurance long term care policies will cover our service, but it’s typically a private pay Situation. So most of your clients are private pay, right? Yes. Are you finding the parents paying for, to the kids or a combination? It’s a combination. Is 


([18:17]): It mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. Cuz I’d say there’d have to be some collaboration, especially with like, if you’ve got brothers and sisters, I’m sure they get together and say, how can you know, we need help. We can’t just abandon our kids right. Or our lives, but we wanna care for mom. So they might all chip in. Do you see that? Sometimes 


([18:34]): That happens. And it’s a struggle when there’s one child that lives near mom and dad and then the other ones live far away. The responsibility typically falls on that one. That’s local, but they do chip in and, and it’s great when you see families band together and, and work together the help. 


([18:50]): And do you ever facilitate those conversations or do they kind of do that on their own? Or do you just tell ’em here’s the numbers and then they figure it out. They typically figure it out amongst themselves. Yeah. Yeah. That’s I mean, that’s such a important planning thing. I mean, we’ve talked about PAX putting together a program to do family meetings, to help facilitate that dialogue. But you know, we have a lot of vision company and then there’s certain amount of people that we can implement things. But Laura, this has been fascinating. So like we covered just a fraction of what we have here. So, but we’re at the top of the clock here and uh, I want to thank you for your time. 


([19:23]): Absolutely. Thank you for allowing me to come in. Talk to your audience. I have one more question. Sure. What’s your favorite salsa?  My favorite it’s salsa. Yeah. Oh wow. I’m gonna have to go with, this is so random, but Julio’s that you can find in the grocery store,  You know, you’re not the first person to say this really. Oh yeah. And frankly I’m with you. It’s really good. It is like, it’s kind of an underrated mm-hmm <affirmative> I think I could probably eat the whole thing so bad. It’s as good as anything you can find in a restaurant 


([19:50]): I’m with you. It’s good. Well, thank you again and I appreciate it. This has been fun for those that are, uh, listening and stay to the end. I appreciate you. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com. You can grab a 15-minute consult with an advisor there. It doesn’t cost you anything. And uh, just wanna remind you one more time that you think different when you think long term have a great day. 


([20:13]): This is the podcastfactory.com.




Ready to have a real conversation about securing your future?

Schedule a free no-strings-attached phone conversation.