At what point does the state or federal government step in to help an elderly person who cannot afford to get the further care they need?

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My aunt has no children, so I have volunteered to be her caregiver. If I had known what it involves both in terms of time and money, I probably woulnd't have made that decision. She has enough Social Security to pay for independent living, but not for anything else. I have looked in every possible corner to try to find out what happens to an elderly person who cannot afford to get further care when she needs it and have found no answers. She is not eligible for Medicaid because her Social Security is too high. Ironically I may very well be eligible for Medicaid, but I haven't had time to look into it because of my responsibilities with her. Any advice

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I agree that the lives of daughters are as important as anyone else's. I do know that in some states living blood relatives, especially children, can be required by law to make sure their parents are being taken care of if they no longer can care for themselves. It infuriates me how often it is the daughter, often one of several, who is usually the caregiver. Sons should be just as ready to help, and siblings should share the time and finances of this responsibility.
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"My only recommendation is that if someone finds herself in my position, especially if she is not a daughter, that she find out what other options are available." Daughters' lives count, too, just as much as anyone else's. I really don't like that daughters are often expected to do the elder caregiving.
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States can differ as to how to qualify for Medicaid. Not all states are simple spend down as suggested. You should contact an elder law attorney in your state.
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I was the only one in a position to help her and the HUD housing she was living in could no longer let her live there due to her mental health problems, among them dementia.

Since I have had a nervous break down as a result of caring for her and losing my boyfriend during the last nine months, I realize I do not have the strength to cope with the stress that I didn't fully understand until I took on this responsibility.

My only recommendation is that if someone finds herself in my position, especially if she is not a daughter, that she find out what other options are available. This is extremely stressful and distressing and unless you have a lot of support and can afford to cover all the costs, I would run as fast as possible in the other direction. Wish I had done more research and thought things through more carefully.

I hope you have time and resources to find a solution that will have the smallest impact on everyone involved. Wishing you the very best…
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Marmorado, I respect your question but because I'm in a similar situation I wonder if I could ask you honestly why you decided to become her caregiver and what things made you decide to reconsider? Your detailed info would be very welcomed. Thanks in advance.
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Thanks for your thoughtful and informative responses. I am deeply grateful that you took the time to respond. Good people with good advice!
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I was appointed as DPOA for my cousin, who's considerably older than me, and discovered just how challenging it can be to provide total, around the clock for a dementia patient with medical needs. You are smart to consider the options now. If possible, consult with an attorney. I can't imagine how you would be legally required to provide care for her.

I'd consult with a professional, like an Elder Law attorney who knows Medicaid law. I'd be careful about paying for things for her, because that could be considered as income to her, which might not be in her best interest when calculating for benefits.

I'd also explore about whether your aunt having a disability makes a difference in what her assets are. In my state, they have a Medicaid type program that covers for the care of people who need AL or Memory Care due to dementia or other disability. It seems the income requirements are more flexible than you might expect. I suspect it's due to the greater cost of care for those with dementia.

I hope you find some answers. I hope others who have dealt with this will chime in.
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She will qualify for Medicaid after a spend-down. If it becomes necessary for her to enter a full-time care situation, like a nursing home, they will require that she turn over all of her SS income to them, except for a very small amount she will be allowed to keep to purchase incidentals every month - it's usually around $60 or so that they're allowed to keep.

Let me explain that "spend-down" term:  If she has excess income over and above what Medicaid allows her to have in order to qualify for Medicaid, she will have to spend it down to their allowable level: $2,000 per month, plus a home and car that will be exempt.  That's all you're allowed to have in order to qualify for Medicaid.  

However...
If she has a valuable estate (real estate, savings, etc), that will need to be dealt with before she qualifies for Medicaid as well, but from what you said, it doesn't sound like that's the situation.

Right now, in Independent Living, she doesn't qualify for Medicaid, because she is still living on her own, as far as Medicaid is concerned, so her SS income is too high (above $2,000 per month, apparently). Once she requires full time nursing home care, that status will change and she will qualify for Medicaid because the nursing home expense will be considered a liability that she is responsible for and that will reduce her income to the point that she will qualify with a patient pay amount to be determined once she is approved.  
For example:  My mother had too much income (just barely) to qualify for Medicaid while still living at home - even with outstanding medical bills she couldn't afford to pay.  Once she went into the nursing home, she automatically qualified for Medicaid coverage, but was required to pay her entire SS check (except $60 she was allowed to keep) to the nursing home as her "patient pay portion".  
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