Not long ago, I received a phone call from a very distraught daughter. Her mom is 81 years old, and has spent the last 5 years in an assisted living community. Mom has some difficulties walking due to arthritis, so she uses a walker, and on occasion, a wheelchair to get around. Prior to moving, she was living alone, needed social interaction and stimulation, she was not eating very well, and at times, needed some assistance getting out of bed in the morning and dressing. The family decided a community environment would be the best option for her. However, without knowing how vastly different communities are, this one was not a good fit over the long term. At this point, mom had spent most of the proceeds from the sale of her home in this community, and now discovered she was ineligible for Medicaid not only financially due to her monthly income, but medically.
This family did not have guidance in understanding how to choose the appropriate community and what to look for. The assumption was that her mom would be able to spend down her assets, and remain where she was afterwards on Medicaid. With $20,000 left and an income of $2300 per month available to her, this family was in a panic as to what to do, and where to go.
Having made a full and thorough assessment of mom’s medical and personal care needs, in addition to reviewing mom’s finances, I was able to offer this family a new solution. Assisted living communities differ considerably in terms of the care they offer, the amenities, and cost. Mom’s first community was a very costly choice which meant her assets were depleted within a few years. Now she did not have as many options today as she did yesterday. Thankfully, I was able to help. While her new community was simpler and smaller than her previous one, she is living within her means, able to pay her monthly fees with her income, and she only draws down an additional $300.00 per month from her savings. Mom’s assets should now last her another 5 years. The daughter is relieved; she isn’t going to have to finance a portion of her mom’s care.
Assisted living communities can be a great option for families, but they are not created equal. The key is to finding the one best suited for your parent’s needs today, and for tomorrow as well.
Antoniette Koshykar, Eldercare Advisor