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My dad is considered the community spouse. I know they need to keep their bank accounts below $2,000, but would gift cards count against them. I'm thinking about $500 or more in gift cards. My mom is on Medicaid in Iowa.

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stevensmom, from your profile, it looks like both of your parents are still in their home, and neither is in a care center. Is that correct? Paying for cable or cell phones or on the electric account all sound very practical. That would free up some of the money in their strict budget for them to have some treats -- going to a show, the casino occasionally, out to eat. Or to buy the shoes or towels or whatever they need themselves. But whether they would actually do that with the "extra" money is not something I'd guess.

I guess we were a little more assertive with our mother. When we finally talked her into getting new sheets we just put them on the bed, and took away the old ones. Same with towels. Usually she was willing to use new clothes. But you have two to deal with and they have a history of not using the gifts. It would be a shame you paid their cable bill, and the money that freed up for them just built up in their bank account.

It is good that you can visit often. Filling the cupboards sounds great. Can you take them out sometimes? To a movie, the science museum, a play, out to dinner, etc?

Special events and treats throughout the year might be better than one big bang at Christmas.

Let us know what works out for you. We learn from each other!
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They don't use the sheets and towels because they're already available at the nursing home. The aides probably don't want them to get lost.
jeannegibbs made a good point. If they don't get out much, then gift cards wouldn't be the best idea. The best gift any nursing home resident can get is visits from family and friends. They want to feel wanted, loved and know that they still matter to you.
As far as the medicaid rules.... what they don't know, won't hurt anyone!
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Stevens Mom, they are saving the new items for a 'special occasion'! LOL
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Thanks for the advice Our next thought is to put money on their electric and cable accounts. They are on a strict budget, so we are trying to be practical without running into the Medicaid rules. We are able to see them often, but for some reason, when we buy them things such as sheets and towels or clothes, they won't use them....what's the deal with that! We do fill up their cupboards regularly.
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There is another consideration in giving gift cards. Would they have trouble getting to the store to spend them? If your parents have trouble getting around, gift cards might be a burden to them. If this is the case, then a better gift would be to buy them the things they would get with the card. My brother and SIL usually give my mother gift cards to restaurants and stores. Better gifts would be if my brother actually took my mother to the restaurant and if my SIL shopped at the store. As it ends up, it is up to me, the caregiver, to do the details. I devote much time already. Gift cards are an extra straw on my back.
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I think your best bet is to talk to the Medicaid case worker. The gift cards would not be going into the bank account, and presumably would be spent before the next renewal forms need to be filled out. That may be enough to meet requirements. But check it out before you do it. I don't think the purpose of the rules is to keep family from helping out!

Do you know of specific things your parents need now? Dad needs a complete set of bed sheets manufactured sometime after the Eisenhower administration? Mother needs a new winter coat, or better shoes? Giving them what they need directly is another possibility. If the case worker discourages you from giving gift cards, go the direct gift route. New bed linens are not considered an asset! :)

Do you and your siblings live close enough to your parents to visit often? That is always a welcome "present" too!
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Gift cards, NO, because elderly will lose them, or give them to someone else. What your parents want is your time, your love and small tokens of affection.
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