What do we do if Medicaid won't pay for my mom in a nursing home and none of us can afford it?

Asked by

We are waiting to hear from Medicaid whether they will pay for my mom in a nursing home. She has Alzheimer's. No one in the family can afford it. I can't really take her as my home would not be safe, for one thing, as she has fallen several times and I have stairs to the bedrooms in my home. I would also have to quit working and I don't think I would do well mentally and emotionally within a short time. My siblings act like it is my problem only, as I am POA. I don't know what to do and her nursing home bill is almost $10,000 a month. Does anyone have any advise?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Expert Answer
3930 helpful answers
Generally, the money to pay for her care while she awaits Medicaid assistance would come from any assets that she has. Is she living in a home she owns? That could be considered an asset.
If she has no money at all other than Social Security, the chances of her getting Medicaid help are good, but the waiting period is challenging. Each state is different, so you need to ask your contact at the Medicaid office where the application is being processed what you are to do in the meantime. It's likely that her home could be used as collateral. You may want to talk with an elder law attorney who knows your state Medicaid rules well.
Good luck,
some people envision a NH as a utopia of safety, good care and fun activities. i didnt see that in the rather upscale AL that my mother spent a couple of months in. it was more like old people sitting in their rooms surrounded by a pack of money and drug thieves waiting to go eat another horrid meal. after a few weeks the families stopped visiting altogether. im not trying to influence anyones decision but my mom isnt going back into one if we have to live in a van down by the river.
Capnhardass - I understand that in your situation you want to keep your mom at home. Please don't act like those of us who choose not to do that are less kind/compassionate/whatever you think than you are. It's not always an option. We're all doing the best we can for our loved ones or we wouldn't be on this website!
Your mother's situation is what Medicaid is meant for. She has no assets and she needs skilled nursing home care. I assume that the NH she is at accepts Medicaid? Mom is probably in the status now of Medicaid Pending, right?

If it happens that this NH does Not accept Medicaid, start looking for one that does immediately!
3 months ago, we received a phone call one night that the relative who was taking care of my disabled mother in law was going to jail, so come pick her up (she was in another state). So, we did. My father in law who was in the hospital passed away last month. She has no assets at all - nothing, except a small social security and pension. What a shame to live all these years (68) and not have a single thing to show for it. Assisted Living, I was told is a "luxury" so that was out of the question. She couldn't even afford a nursing home. What are we going to do? We have a two story house. I've made an "apartment" for her in one room, however, being in a wheelchair means she cannot come downstairs, and she needs assistance to use the restroom. Anyway, we have decided to dip into the 401K and make a handicap accessible addition onto our home downstairs. This has all happened so fast, but what else can we do when no one else will step in. She has a much better life with us, that's for sure, however, it is very stressful having to be a caregiver and work a full time job too. Thank goodness my husband and immediate family are here to help too. I know I'm not alone in this situation. This forum has helped me tremendously. Best of luck to you.
Just for other's information, I contacted the Area on Agency in my mother's area for legal assistance. I was told they really didn't do anything legal except give advise.
It has been one unpleasant surprise after another in this situation. A lawyer I contacted charged $350 for the first phone call ( as I live out of state from my mom) !
After that, something like $300 per hour. I don't know what the average American is going to do as baby boomers age and we struggle more and more to take care of our elderly. The cost for care is out of reach for most of us. We all need to start inundating our representatives with phone calls and letters about these concerns.
A side note on Medicaid- after my mom was financially exploited by my only sibling and left penniless, I was in a panic. My mom was evicted from her assisited living facility and like what you all have commented, had only a small SS benefit for her care. She needs 24/7 care at 95 and has advanced dementia.
When I was investigating putting her on MediCal (CAMedicaid) I learned that some states are using an old law to collect the costs to the state after the recipient dies- called estate recovery under filial law. Be very careful if you are the DPOA and seek advice for your protection. There are articles on the Internet of adult children being served with $50,000 and up bills. Look up filial law.
In my case I will make the state go after my sibling if I have to put my mom on mediCal.
I wish everyone the best. Being a full time caregiver and holding down a job is rough. Don't take on more than you can do. Reach out for help. Call your county's Council on Aging for assistance. Like the person above said, speak to an a ombudsman. There are requirements that need to be met physically to qualify fir SNF.
I know we all want the best fAOR our parents, but be careful about dipping into your own funds that you will need one day. Check out small board and cares around you. They are better environments than nursing homes.
1daughterin law, apply (on her behalf) for Medicaid Global Options. It will pay for home care or Assisted Living Care. It is a beast of an application and process but is a wonderful alternative to helping an individual who does not yet require a higher level of care. I've done so on behalf of my aunt as I'm her POA. It's been 8 months now and it still hasn't gone through but I'm hoping that it pays off in the end. If your father in law was a veteran, look into that option as well. They don't advertise it but my aunt is now getting a pension from the VA even though my uncle only served 4 years. If you have any questions feel free to email me.
What do all of you who don't think NH's aren't an answer suggest for those of us who can't take a loved one into our home and don't have $ to pay for private pay skilled help suggest? I feel like we're being condemned in some way - like we're not as loving as you are - b/c we don't have the same options. I'm open to suggestions if you have them, but in 6 years of trying to provide the best care possible for my mom w/ALZ, nothing better that's affordable has presented itself.
It sounds like she is already in the nursing home. So do an internet google search for the words "medicaid pending while in nursing home" and you will find some helpful info. Hopefully you did not sign that you will guarantee payment. If she has no money then wouldn't the only issue be she doesn't meet nursing home starndard of care but it seems like she does from your description. If denied, then look into appealilng it but it would be the nursing home's responsiblity to find an appropriate placement for her since they already admitted her. Contact your state ombudsman if there is one to find out what you can do in the event nursing home medicaid is denied. If the state claims she only needs assisted living, then ask them if they are going to find her a place and fund it under the medicaid program for community care. You can also try to contact an attorney at legal services for free help if she has no money.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support