My mother-in-law has very advanced dementia (she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in Venezuela, but based on her symptoms and disease progression, we think it's more likely LBD). My husband, who is a U.S. citizen, brought her from Venezuela to take care of her due to the dire situation in that country in terms of access to medicine, food, etc. He has petitioned for residency for her, but even once that is granted, she will be ineligible for any kind of government benefits for at least 5 years. In the meantime, he and his siblings are footing the bill for in-home care. She is living in our home. First she had a live-in caregiver, but due to a host of problems with that individual, we are now trying to coordinate a couple of caregivers who come for the day, and we take care of her on the weekends ourselves as best we can. Neither of my husband's siblings live in the U.S.; they have been helping a lot financially, thank God, but are not around to help shoulder the day-to-day physical and emotional toll of providing care for someone who does not even know who or where she is anymore, let alone who we are.

She cannot walk, talk, feed herself, use the restroom, anything. Her mind is completely gone; the only thing she can still do is eat. And eat she does. She will keep eating as long as you keep putting it in her mouth. Given this and her lack of any other life-threatening physical health problems, I fear this situation could drag on for years. Meanwhile my husband has had to sacrifice his career to try to care for and coordinate care for her, and the environment the situation has created within our home as well as the constant stress over who is going to take care of her and how it will be paid for is weighing heavily on our household and myself.

Everyone agrees she should be in a nursing home at this point, but at $4,000 a month minimum, it's just not within the realm of possibility. She has some savings but they would run out within a couple of months of nursing home care. Even split among the 3 siblings, trying to afford that level of care for more than a few months would be nearly if not completely impossible. And again, we're talking a minimum 5+ years before she could possibly be eligible for Medicaid, even if her petition were granted tomorrow--which it won't be; the attorneys are saying that these applications are currently taking a year or more to process. The 5 years would start when the petition is granted. So realistically, that means 6+ years. We previously inquired into ALF, but none of them will take her because she can't walk. We almost got financial assistance from Vitas for hospice care, but then they found out about a pension she gets in Venezuela--which would be about $10 a month if you could actually get it out of the country--and we were denied and told it would cost us $5,000 a month for someone to come once a week.

That is my vent and my rant. My question is: Does anyone know of any sources of funding for nursing home care for people who are ineligible for Medicaid but who don't have the means to pay privately? Any kind of charitable funds, foundations, etc.? Every day is filled with anxiety at what will happen if this drags on for years. I know we have to take it one day at a time, but we also have to plan for the future and anticipate that this could go on for years. She's only 76 and again, no serious physical health conditions that we know of besides the severe dementia and Parkinson's, and she is still eating with gusto.

Any advice or suggestions anyone could give would be very well-received. Thanks for reading!

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Hi Mally,
I don't drive here either! There are too many people here who have no idea how to manuver a car! 😳
I leave that to hubby who was born here. I drive to the border to cross to get to work in San Diego and back.

It's too bad that the Uber app for Mexico only works on Mexican cell phones. I can't download Uber for Tijuana on my IPhone because my cell phone is from California.

It's sad that some of us can't afford care in our own country. Those of us close to the border have the option of care in the border cities. I love my English speaking dentist here in TJ who charges half to 3/4 less than a dentist in San Diego.

Other Americans take "health vacations" in lovely Mexican tourist towns, combining surgery or health care with a vacation.

It stands to reason that Mexico would pick up on services that are needed by Americans (and Canadians) but not affordable in our own countries. In my case, thank God I can have affordable memory care for my mom available.

At one point, when we lived in Puerto Vallarta, we had considered opening an AL facility. Baby boomers are wanting to retire in Mexico but their elderly parents need assistance. The only options were to keep their folks in the US.
You will be seeing more and more Assisted Living facilities opening in Mexico so the Boomers can be close to their elderly parents.
Helpful Answer (1)

Sue, Wow! What an interesting idea.... I've been reading about cheap medical and dental work lots of people are having done in Mexico, but never thought of AL or NH care.... Also, years ago I went to Tijuana and Rosarito, and have some idea of the area; though I sure don't want to drive in Tijuana! God forbid, we ever have to move my mom out of her apt.... thanks for the info!
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Small world, I was born and raised in San Francisco.

For a large city, the way it's divided into neighborhoods, makes it "homey." I miss it and the old friends who are still there. I Don't miss the rental prices of apartments however.
My mom had a 2 BR apt. on Dolores St. (The palm tree street) for 50 years and was on rent control. She paid $1000./mo. When she left, they painted, put in new cabinets and carpet. It rented for $4,000./mo!!

On the other side;
We rent a 2 BR/1Bath home with secure parking for 2 cars, tiny front "yard" and a back yard and patio in one of the best neighborhoods in Tijuana, less than 1 mile from the border, for $450./mo.
As they say, location, location, location.

Hopefully I'll still be on this board when you move. If you choose the San Diego area, you'll already have a neighbor.
Helpful Answer (1)

@igloo557: We are in Miami, so yes, there is a very large Venezuelan population here (and growing by the day). My husband and his family are connected to a lot of other Venezuelans here, who know others, etc. This has helped us get caregivers. However, so far I haven't heard of any solutions to the bigger problem of needing nursing home and not being able to afford it... :(
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@SueC1957 Thanks--if this goes on too long, that may actually not be the worst solution I've ever heard of. I will actually mention it to my husband. We moved here from San Francisco about a year ago, mainly to be closer to the members of his family he has who are here in hopes that they would help us--his sister was also supposed to be moving here from Venezuela and was going to be able to help us more--but so far the family is not much more helpful here than they would be anywhere else, and meanwhile he has limited career options. We are actually talking about trying to move again within the next year or two. And honestly, California is one of our top choices--we loved living there, and he has talked about San Diego. So maybe us living in San Diego and placing her in a nursing home in Mexico could eventually be an option.

In the meantime, we are lucky in the sense that, because she is so far gone and can't walk anymore, there is no risk of her wandering or, as you mention, doing things like peeing on the floor (or dangerous things like lighting the gas stove, etc.) So her care is easy in a certain way, but difficult in the sense that she can't do anything for herself, so it's a lot of changing diapers, spoon-feeding her, etc. The caregiver whom we recently let go bathed her every day, but just about broke her back lifting her from the hospital bed to the wheelchair and then to the chair in the shower. She not only doesn't walk, she doesn't do anything to help you pick her up--it's like picking up a 120-pound bag of potatoes. Dead weight. She also just slumps over in her chair or wherever you put her, so you have to hold her up to keep her from falling over sometimes.

Thank you for the suggestion! I will bring this up as a possible benefit of moving to San Diego.
Helpful Answer (4)

Sue, I see no problem with Mom getting Medicaid if you spend down that 5k. She isn't allowed more than 2k in bank. My Mom received a little over $1700 a month and was on Medicaid.
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Dear desperada,
Yes, I know you are
desperate. You sound like you are on your last nerve.

I was in the same situation with my mother and she's an American citizen. They told me she had too much $ in the bank ($5,000.) and made too much $ on Social Security ($1,800./ mo.). She did not qualify for anything. She was in stage 5 Alzheimer's and unable to live alone anymore. I have to keep working.

We live in Tijuana, Mexico and a social worker gave me the names of 3 facilities, one in Tijuana, one in Rosarito and one in Ensenada. We chose the one in Rosarito for its homey feel. The price WAS $1,300./mo. but, over the course of 2 years (and her dementia getting worse and needing more care), increased to $1,900./mo. Still a good deal BUT we don't have $ to contribute, so her SS wasn't enough. We found another place here in TJ that's much cheaper ($750./mo.) Good medical care but not the fanciest of living conditions (older house, older furniture, etc.).

I saw that you folks moved TO Florida. Where did you come FROM?
Would it be possible to move to a US border state (Calif., Texas, etc.) and place your MIL in a Mexican care home for less than half the price? Your husband may have more job opportunities in another state also.

Hey, I know it's a long shot and this option is for less than 1% of the American population. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The added benefit would be that they speak Spanish.

I tried to have my mother in my home but she was getting naked and urinating on the floor. Also, she wouldn't let my husband help her at all. He works from home so it would have been great. I commute across the border for my job and spend a lot of time on the road.

If nothing else, this is another option to consider. From the sound of your posts, I hope you find a place for her soon.
If this might be an option, I'd be glad to help you.

Buena Suerte!
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I’m with GuestShoppe on Catholic Charities. Also Jewish Family Services.

But I’m also going to suggest you get into being involved whatever Venezolano diaspora community that is in your area region. There’s going to be others out there & dealing with the same issues & will have realistic suggestions. Like in Houston, huge community although more Marachucho as they worked oil & gas industry.
Helpful Answer (5)

@CTTN55: I agree with you. Unfortunately, my husband is having to chip in, though his siblings are paying somewhat more of the care-related expenses (but not the bills or any help with the mortgage, both of which are significantly higher than we would require for a place for just the two of us) which leaves me feeling like we are still getting the short end of the stick in more ways than one. The day-to-day emotional toll of living with someone in such pitiful condition is so heavy. My husband sacrificed a successful career to move back to Florida--a place where he has few opportunities and has taken a 75% pay cut, in part because caring for his mom and dealing with the caregivers and gaps in care has limited how much he can work--in order for us to be able to afford a bigger place for his mom and her caregiver. I work from home now, and living in and constantly being in what feels like a nursing home most of the time often leaves me irritable, anxious and desperate. My alternative seems to be to rent a workspace outside the house, which then feels like me getting kicked out of the house I spend all my money on in order for it to be more fully a nursing home. There are just no good solutions.

@Guestshopadmin: Thank you for the ideas. I will check into those. I agree re agencies and foundations and charities already being overwhelmed by the costs of citizens and permanent residents and refugees. Long term care is so expensive and people are living so long, outliving their minds by so many years. It really makes you question the utility of scientific and medical advances to keep people alive longer than they actually need to be.

I am trying hard to take it day by day and be as supportive as I can of my husband, but I find it very challenging indeed. It is hard for me to see his mom or spend more than a few minutes a day with her; it's just too depressing and leaves me feeling desperate for it to end. I try hard to keep my mind from going into anxiety loops of thinking this will never end and that I will be dealing with this and living like this for the next 5 or 10 years, and watch him sacrifice everything for someone who doesn't even know her own name, let alone his, and who has no hope of ever getting better, but only of getting worse and worse.
Helpful Answer (4)

Since MIL is living in your home, your husband shouldn't have to pay part of the caregiver costs. That should be for the other sibs to pay.
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Have you checked with the churches in your area? Often they are aware of services for immigrants or specific programs that fund indigent persons.
Catholic Charities has a lot of programs in Florida (not knowing your religious background) including programs for indigent persons, immigrants and refugees. Here is the website and description of services in Central Florida.
They have many locations in Florida - if you're in another part other than Orlando, they may be able to refer you to another agency.
The Area Agency of Aging in Florida may know of immigrant programs. With her health problems, private insurance is most likely not an option. Here is the website for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
The Alzheimer's Association Or Parkinson's Foundation may be able to give you referrals.
Unfortunately, there is so much need for services in the US for citizens and refugees that the 5 year stipulation was put into the immigration policy for newly arriving persons. As you and your husband know, when you sponsor someone, you agree that the person or you as sponsor can cover expenses for the 5 years without government assistance. Most states are overwhelmed already with citizens and legal residents that there just isn't a lot of extra help other than natural disaster, temporary help. I am so sorry that your mother-in-law's situation is so dire and admire your desire to help.
You or she may qualify for SNAP, aka food stamps, as citizens.
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