Mom had been doing great at home, taking care of herself and enjoying life. No one in the family is really contemplating having to care for her. Suddenly, she has a stroke and needs help. She pleads not to be placed in a facility, and none of the children really want that either. When suchan emergency happens, the family is often not prepared, and everyone has to scramble to find out even the most ba-sic of information — from Mom’s health insurance information to bank account information and estate planning documents. To prevent the scramble, here are some tips to help you get prepared.
Have a family pow-wow to decide on every person’s responsibilities. To facilitate the discussion, you might consider hiring a professional geriatric care manager. The care manager can be an asset in assessing Mom and finding the appropriate in-home help. There are many types of home care providers —some who can provide nursing services and some who are only home companions. The family might be too emotional and too close to the situation to understand the differences to pick the proper help. Look online at aginglifecare.org for referrals in your area.
All of this in-home help will cost money, so the family needs to have a frank discussion about finances. All assets and income must be examined to determine how much money will be available to meet Mom’s needs. A person must be named in writing as the power-of-attorney to handle the finances for Mom when she can no longer do so herself. Choose that person wisely: Three-quarters of the elder financial abuse that occurs is perpetrated by relatives.
If there won’t be enough assets and income to cover the costs of care, seek out alternative funds. For example, a reverse mortgage allows Mom to borrow against the equity in her home to help pay for her expenses. There are no monthly payments, and only when Mom passes away or permanently leaves the house must the house be sold and the loan repaid.
Additionally, monetary and other help might be available from the Veterans Administration, if Mom is a veteran, the spouse or even the surviving spouse of a veteran. Contact the local Veterans Service Commission for more information.
If the money runs out, help may be available under the Medicaid program called PASSPORT. This program provides nursing home-type services in the home if Mom is qualified. This assistance plus some family time might be just enough to keep Mom from having to enter a nursing home.
Finally, don’t let Mom become arecluse in her home. Social and emo-
tional interaction is very important to her well-being. Senior groups, day care or congregate meals can keep Mom engaged and healthier.
Keeping Mom at home might just be the most rewarding time you have ever spent with her. Just be sure to get help and plan ahead so it doesn’t turn out to be the most complicated and stressful time as well.