I listened to a public radio program this morning about empty nesters and what they do to fill the void when children finally leave the nest. A number of callers spoke of how a parent moved in when they could no longer function at home on their own anymore.
Having a parent move in when they need care may sound cozy, and for some families it is a wonderful experience. Mom may be a pleasure to host, she may help with gardening, cleaning house, and perhaps even assist with cooking.
On the other hand, she may eventually need help with bathing, toileting, medication management, and if there is any dementia, a host of other cares that will become necessary.
Sundowning is one concern several callers mentioned. This is when the dementia is worse in late afternoon and evening as logic and reasoning disappear. Getting someone calmed down and to bed can be as difficult with an adult as it was with children. We all remember driving a child around in the car until they fell asleep, and this may now become necessary again, regardless how much gasoline costs.
When someone you love and care about strongly resists bathing and does not want to be in water it can be quite frustrating. Worrying about their falling when you are not watching them closely prevents any chance of your relaxing. This can trap you in your own home as a 24 hour a day, unpaid caregiver.
Sometimes Mom or Dad have funds and can compensate you for your work as a caregiver. One of my clients recently contacted me with questions on a problem this caused.
His mother had lived with them for 18 months, and they provided all of her care in exchange for payment of $3000 per month. This worked well until her care became simply too strenuous for the two of them to handle. At that point they moved Mom to an assisted living facility where the 24 hour caregivers could handle all her needs.
About a year later Mom’s savings ran out and she needed to apply to Medicaid to fund her care. Medicaid requires complete impoverishment down to $2000 of assets and typically any life insurance must be cashed in as well. Medicaid also closely checks financial history to determine if any gifting was done in the 5 years prior to applying for Medicaid. Any gifts given during this time period are totaled and divided by the average cost of a nursing home to determine how long you are ineligible for Medicaid once you are down to $2000.
In this case, without a signed, dated and notarized work contract between Mom and her son and his wife, every check of $3000 for care was counted as a gift and Mom became ineligible for Medicaid. Son now digs into his retirement savings to pay back Mom the money she paid them for care. This of course triggers additional income taxes for son as retirement funds are withdrawn.
While it is a loving gesture to have Mom or Dad move in with adult children when care is needed, you need to ask yourself, are you emotionally and physically able to undertake what often becomes full-time 24 hour per day care?
For some the answer is yes, and becomes a wonderful experience. For many others what started as a new adventure becomes tedium and a physically impossible job better suited to professionals.
Your parents may not have the money to pay for care, nor the health to purchase Long-Term Care insurance. Let this be a lesson to those of us who do have the health to purchase this insurance. The premium is far smaller than the cost of the care it pays for.
If you do decide to investigate Long-Term Care insurance, do so with someone who understands how and where this care is provided, as well as accurate current costs. Bear in mind that when one can no longer use the fun toys and travel, a portion of income can go towards the cost of care. Interest on savings can help as well without depleting principal. Thus most people need less of the insurance than they might first anticipate.
While you might hope that this will never happen to you, Health and Human Services tells us that by the time we reach age 65, fully 70% of us will need Long Term Care.
At TheLongTermCareGuy.com we have over 23 years experience in guiding people with this insurance. Let us help you investigate, every situation is unique. Call us at (920) 884-3030 or (800) 219-9203 or look us up online at www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com