Placing your loved one with dementia into a facility – part 2: Money

In my last post, part 1, I discussed the guilt that comes with the decision to bring in additional care or move your loved one into a facility. Today I’m going to talk about the cost burden of it all.

 Finances

Oye vay. Caregivers and facilities are freaking expensive. Caregivers like my mom’s in-home paid caregiver, Chris, range from $15 – 25/hour. In our case, Chris visits around 10 – 20 hours per week, so this could be over $2,000 per month in a busy month. This is the cost of a mortgage! And this is hardly any care support – just enough for her to get time with friends and get some errands done. When she wants to come visit me for the weekend, that alone is about $1,000.

Then, we start looking at care facilities. Shit! Monthly facility rates rarely dip below $3,000 per month and the “good” ones are $6,000+ per month. Can you imagine?!

On average, care for dementia costs a family $56,800, according to the Shriver Report.

Now, Medicaid is an option for some people if your LOWD is in a very tight financial situation (translation: impoverished). You should connect with local resources in your community to understand what you need to do to qualify, but essentially you need to be a resident of your state, be 65 or over, and meet financial and functional requirements. From my mom and others who have explored this, it is not easy, so just be patient and know that it may take a little time to get to the right info. It is worth it to look into it though, because many long-term care facilities will take Medicaid. There are also resources (like consultants) in most cities who can guide you through for a fee. If they come recommended, it may be worth it to save the headache.

finances

One trend that I see is that people like my mom try to save their money and be smart with it so that she can use it for care. However, care is SO expensive that she will end up spending all of her money on it, and then if my dad is still alive, he will get Medicaid when she becomes broke…all while she is very young and healthy. Instead, I am pushing my mom to spend and enjoy her money, now. I want her to go travel and enjoy it. Then, when she has spent it all, she is in no worse of a position that before and Medicaid will be there for my dad as well as her needs.

This is a VERY personal decision and I am not a lawyer nor a financial advisor. Keep that in mind. I would strongly encourage at least a consultation with an elder law attorney before you make any of these decisions. Know what your state requires.

Here is one caregiver’s personal experience with “spending down” his assets to get his wife qualified.

At the end of the day, something my brother and I say to each other to keep it in perspective is, “this disease shouldn’t take them both down.” It is a healthy reminder that we need to make smart decisions that keep the best quality of life for our dad, but that do not take away life’s pleasures from our mom. She deserves to live a full life with the hard-earned money she has worked her whole life to save.

Other helpful reads:

Medicaid and Long Term Care

Eligibility for Medicaid

Medicare links by state

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