Assisted living is just getting too expensive.

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My mother was living alone and it just wasn't working out. She has a mobility problem and can only get around in a walker and mostly a wheelchair. My husband and I were doing every for her like shopping, taking her to the dr, getting her meds etc. About 8 months ago after she fell at home and wound up in the hospitalo, the dr stated that she can't live alone. My husband and I tossed this around in our heads for a long time and decided that the best thing would be to try to get her into assisted living for a few months to see how that works and then we would decide what is best for her. My mother is trying to be very independent there and refused to have someone help her with dressing, showering and helping her get around. She gets around in her wheelchair very well but just goes down for the meals and her pills and goes up to her room to watch tv and knit. It's costing a fortune to stay there and she's going to run out of money soon. We're getting her house ready for sale but we know the real estate market is terrible right now and her house is worth 1/2 of what it was a few years ago. I thought Medicaid would be the answer but when we spoke to someone about it, we were told that my mother would have to spend everything she has and then apply. My father died at a very young age and my mother managed to pay off her house all by herself by working hard. It's all she has. My mother mentioned the other day that it would be so nice if we all lived together. My husband and I are thinking that maybe we should have her come live with us. I've been thinking about this 24/7. It's always on my mind. I love my mother and want to do what's best. I have a brother and sister who do nothing and don't even make suggestions. Has anyone else had to make this type of decision. If so, how are things. I'm so afraid to spend down all my mother's money at the AL and then she'll be left with nothing. We've checked a lot of ALs in our area (NJ) and the prices are all high.


I haven't yet had to deal with assisted living expenses, but I too would be apprehensive about letting my mother's nest egg dwindle to nothing.

I can tell you that even if you and your mother get along famously, having her move in with you will still be a major upheaval in your household.

You haven't given us some of the crucial details. That is, do you still have children living with you and how do they feel about it? Is your house big enough to accommodate her without losing your privacy and is it wheelchair accessible? Or if her house is bigger, would you consider moving in with her? How would it affect your financial situation?

If you do decide to take her in, I would definitely have a meeting with your siblings and tell them if you are going to provide the housing, then they need to promise to provide frequent respite care/vacation time and share in any of her expenses that her funds will not cover.

Also, be sure to keep good records from the beginning of all her expenses, including home improvements, furniture, medical devices, etc., so that if there's any trouble down the road concerning anyone's "inheritance" being spent or questions from officials or IRS, you'll have the records to show.
thanks ajl2001. My mother and my husband and I get along well. Living together will be a big adjustment. I got laid off from my job of 43 years 2 years ago so I'm officially retired. My husband has been retired for a few years due to kidney disease. His kidney disease is in remission and he's feeling good. We have no children and live in a retirement home with 2 small dogs. The home is a good size and I can make up our bedroom which is fairly large for my mother as a sitting/bedroom with her own bathroom. It will take a little adjustment as far as storage but we can take the smaller bedroom for ourselves. We also have a large den at the other side of the house so privacy shouldn't be too much of a problem. My mother would have her own tv and sitting area. She likes her own tv programs and that wouldn't be a problem. I know it will be a big adjustment but I don't want my mother to be left with nothing at this point in her life. My siblings aren't around hardly at all but you're right about keeping track of everything. Since my husband and I are on fixed income, my mother would have to contribute to some of the expenses. I've got POA and I've taken care of everything for my mother for the past 2 years. After the house is sold, there won't be too much left over but at least she'll have enough so if she wants to have her hair done every week, have her cable tv, her cell phone, go shopping, she'll be able to do it. If she gets on Medicaid, there's not much left over for her. They allow about $100 a month and that's it. Anything else she'll need will have to come from the family. That's the part that's so scary. I can't see my siblings contributing at all. The only thing we would have to do to our house is have a ramp built so the wheelchair can come into and out of the house. I haven't said a thing to my mother yet b/c this is in the beginning stages.
We have managed to honor my Mom's wishes to live independently - at least for now. She has her own place, but we do EVERYTHING for her and, frankly, I am "hitting the wall." I love my Mom but I think we both agree that combining two households would not work for us. I am doing the job of 3 or 4 people now and I am exhausted. When your parent gets to a certain age and their health declines, they need so much help...most of which, I am not qualified to do. They need professionals.
Also, if your sibs haven't stepped up now, they never will. You will do all the work, and, when that time comes, they will wonder what you did with "all Mom's money."
Have you thought of an interim situation? Group homes are much less expensive and have fewer residents. There is also the possibility of having a live-in caregiver in a private or senior apartment.
I am also my Mom's "financial advisor." I am trying to preserve Mom's assets so that, if the time comes, she will not have to worry about getting the best care.
I am suggesting these ideas because having a senior move in with you and caring for them 24/7 is relentless work. Her needs will have to come first. Everytime you go on vacation, you will have to find someone to fill in. As my Mom ages, she doesn't want anyone else to care for her but me. It is claustrophobic.
I know you are being practical, but I would highly recommend looking into other alternatives before moving your Mom in. It will be too hard for her to adjust to multiple moves.
Good luck.
thanks lilliput. My mother is very head strong and doesn't want anyone to live with her except me. That's out of the question. Her house is smaller than ours so us living with her is out of the question. Plus I have to think about applying for medicaid down the road if she must go into a nursing home. In order to pay for AL her house must be sold. We've been taking care of my mother now since my stepfather passed away 2 years ago. We were running back and forth almost every day. I suggested a caregiver staying with her and she refuses that scenario. It was hard enough to get her into AL. She seems to be doing ok there but her money will be running out soon. I want to make some type of decision for her before that happens. If she stays at AL, we have to apply for medicaid and from what I've been told from her drs, medicaid planners and the administrators at the AL, it's not easy. Since my mother is independent enough to do things on her own even though she's in a wheelchair, they said she could be declined medicaid because she refuses help getting dressed or taking a shower. She does everything herself. Also you can't pre-apply until the money runs out. i think about this 24/7 and the only solution that I can think of is to have her live with us for now until I can come up with another alternative. I just feel that even though she'll be living with me she won't have the stimulation of talking with others and going down for her meals. At my house there's nobody except my husband and I and my 2 dogs. We visited a few of the group homes in our area and they were terrible. Everyone looked like all they did all day was sleep in chairs and on the couch while watching tv all day. I can't do that to her. Every time I bring this up to my sister and brother, they just look at me and say they don't know what to do. It's hard enough to get them to visit my mother let alone give me any kind of input. I really don't know what to do.
Unfortunately I have to echo everything that Lilliput said. My mom has been with us for 3 years and it is harder than I ever imaged. I have always been the kind of person to just do what needed done and that's it. I wonder if I could have done anything differently if I had looked for advice here before I made my decisions. I thought my mom had significant resources but she will deplete them in a few years. (she hires a caretaker while I work). If your mom is in relatively stable health and spends more than her monthly income, the chances are she will deplete her funds and need medicaid. Planning for the next year or two isn't enough, you have the think through 5-10 years. Really difficult decisions for everyone.
Please, please take the time to carefully go through the financial situation and keep records. Eventually there will be the point where she will need a higher level of care and for that you will need to apply to medicaid, whether for LTC or SNF.

Do not co-mingle any of her money and yours. If you're doing that now then change the bank accounts so that her's is her's with you as a signature on the account. All in all the best thing is to take the time once you have everything together for her is to go an see an elder care attorney who practices in the county where she lives &/or owns property for advice.

She does NOT have to sell her home (if it is her homestead and valued at under $ 500,000 and the property records indicate that) in order to qualify for medicaid. It's all about the income ceiling in your state. Usually $ 2,020.00 of income (social security, annuity, retirement, savings) is the ceiling. If she is above that then it (her $$) needs to be spent down to get to that. I'm sure with all the $$ going to AL that it is significantly less than before.

The money can be spent to have a caregiver come in to help during the week or respite care when you go away and she's at the home.

If you don't sell her house (or it doesn't sell and you are stuck with it) and she eventually is qualified for medicaid you need to really keep records. Now if you spend any of your $$ on her care (like a caregiver) while she was living with you (unfortunately you cannot be compensated for your time), keep records as you can ask for that $$ to be refunded when her house is sold after she passes away. Medicaid estate recovery act allows for repayment of money spent that kept her from going onto Medicaid or on upkeep of the property (taxes, insurance, maintenance) from the sale of the house.
It is with total honesty that i answer your question. I took care of my mother (w Alzheimers) in my home for nearly eight years. It is not easy! The best thing for your mother is selling her house, placing her in a independent community that won't rob you. There is alot to choose from with many rates being adjusted to the level of care your mother requires. You state that her home is all she has. It's a great thing to have & be able to use the funds for what she needs now! She has worked hard you say, then repay her by doing the best thing for HER. Do your homework on the communities and make an educated decision. Good luck! --Hugs
Thanks for all your replies. The more I think about it the more I think that applying for medicaid when the time comes is the answer. She seems to be happy at AL and she's made friends. To take her out of that environment and bring her into my house where the only interaction is with me and my husband just doesn't seem fair for her. She won't have that interaction with others her own age. I'm constantly thinking about her and hoping I'm doing the best for her. I already have an elder care attorney and he said the first thing to do was sell the house which is what my husband and I are working on right now. After that I can calculate how much is left from the sale for her care at AL before applying for Medicaid. I'm also going to speak to the social worker at the rehab my mother was in and just try to get some reassurance that this is the best thing for her. She has mobility problems and can't get around without her wheelchair. She seems to be able to handle getting down to meals and getting her meds in her chair at least 3 times a day. Everyone at the AL says she flies around in her wheelchair every day. She has some bad days and when she can't get down for meals, they'll bring her meals to her room. They encourage her to get out of her room even if she's feeling a little better. It actually gets her moving again. If she was at my house,she would just be sitting and not getting any type of exercise. At least she gets exercise by getting herself out of her room and going to the dining hall. I don't think living with us will help her at all. Hugs to all of you for helping me get through this. It's so nice to be able to communicate with others who've gone through this or who are going through this. I'll keep you all posted. Hugs.
Hope you can sell her home. Moved my 90's mom into IL a few years back and then into LTC recently. We tried for over a year to sell and couldn't as the home had foundation issues so no reverse mortgage or FHA or VA buyers financing only cash or conventional. The cash types have all those foreclosures for cheap to buy right now and aren't interested in an old ladies house unless it's a steal. We did have a conventional offer but it cratered before closing. I'd hate to be a Realtor right now!

Whatever you need to have done to the house to make it sell you really, really need to do now while she still has $$ that you can spend as needed. New water heater, plumbing repairs, whatever. If the house doesn't sell and she goes onto medicaid then her income is locked into payment at the nursing home.
So you will have to pay for whatever is needed and wait to get reinbursed through the settlement of her estate at probate.

The good part is we got the house cleared of 50 years of stuff - it took the better part of a year (I live states away) and I got organized with all her financial and health and death records.
She is now under medicaid and the house is subject to the state's medicaid estate recovery act. If you end up going that route, you need to keep all records or what you spend on the house as you can get reinbursed for property taxes, insurance , maintenance as well as whatever you spent that kept her from going onto medicaid (like an aide at her AL who gives her specialized care to the degree it keeps her from the nursing home for 8 months).

All of what you paid, has to be submitted within 60 days to the state (actually a private firm each state hires for MERA),
then they determine whether to pursue a claim against the estate of the deceased for $$ paid by medicaid.

I'm in 110% agreement with you about your mom in AL. The socialization & safety that being in IL or AL brings is so important.
Spend down the money on the Assisted Living place. Pay in advance for her funeral, etc. Then as the money is spent down, she will be eligible for federal assistance in programs like Medicaid. You will not have to worry.

While you love your Mother and is admirable that you do, you will find as her needs change, so will your life. Remember she gave you life, she didn't give you hers but her life will become yours as she gets older.

meaning there will be no dinners out after awhile, there won't be friends coming in to visit either. Family functions -- forget about it -- all this happens slowly so you don't think about it. You just accept the fact that taking her anywhere is more of a headache then it would be enjoyable. Family visits or functions would be non-existent because you have to keep quiet after she goes into her room.
right now she's aware and somewhat ambulatory but it won't always be the case.
You'll enjoy her more if you 'visit' with her but still keep your life and love separately.

Good luck.

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