Elder Care

Strategies on Paying for Nursing Home Care and Medicaid

The decision to place your loved one into a nursing home is an extremely difficult decision, often causing much guilt for the caregiver. It is a very emotional decision for most clients we see and most are under a certain amount of stress, often great, when facing what they consider to be a drastic course of action.

I counsel our caregiver clients to get beyond the guilt as quickly as they can, because the situation their loved one is in is not the caregiver's fault. And besides, the longer you remain under this stress, the less healthy you eat, or you eat way too much, the less you sleep, and some start drinking (my own mother started this late at night after she got my dad settled in bed for the evening - not healthy to say the least).

The stress of caring for a loved one is constant and unrelenting. It is a physical, mental and emotional grind. On numerous occasions, we have actually had caregiver clients die before the spouse in the nursing home. Sometimes, the caregivers die shortly after the nursing home spouse dies. The stress of being a caregiver can be deadly serious, especially for older clients who are caregivers for their spouse.

You have to recognize it and develop a plan to deal with it.

Get your children involved in developing a plan to deal with your loved one's incapacity. And remember, plan for the absolute worst case scenario. Get to an attorney who can help you develop a plan to help you with your particular situation. And this is especially important as soon as you detect any signs of dementia in your parent or spouse, or as soon as you begin to detect physical problems with your loved one. The sooner you begin the plan, the better off the family will be.

NOW, HOW DO WE PAY FOR MAMA'S NURSING HOME CARE? There are really only three ways to pay for a stay in a nursing home.

LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE (LTCI). If Mama was far-sighted enough, she may have purchased LTCI in the past before she needed it. This would be an excellent source of funds to help defray some or all of Mama's long term care costs. Unfortunately, very few seniors, those over age 60, have LTCI coverage.

SELF PAY. This essentially means that Mama has enough income or financial assets to pay her own way in the nursing home. However, many families don't have the income or the financial asset base to be able to pay $4,000 to $7,500 or more a month for a bed for very long in a nursing home.

MEDICAID. This is a state-administered medical benefit program which will pay for the cost of a nursing home stay if three tests are met, i.e., medical need, asset, and income. Medicaid is obviously a needs-based program, funded partially by state funds, but mostly by federal funds. Many people are under the mistaken impression that MEDICARE, which most seniors in this country over age sixty-five participate in to one degree or another, will cover the cost of their stay in a nursing home.

(c) Copyright 2005 P.L.Fields LLC

P.L. Fields is a Medicaid Expert and President of Senior Strategies, a service that helps seniors save time and money. To learn more about the secret strategies and solutions that Medicaid lawyers charge to get clients qualified for Medicaid, while protecting their assets, visit: http://www.medicaidsecrets.info

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