One of the scariest things to face is trying to navigate your way through the forest of challenges facing you as the unpaid family caregiver. At first, you think I can do this. I remember thinking, what’s all the fuss about? We’ll live together and everything will be just fine.
That was five years ago and since then I’ve come to the realization that it will never be “just fine” again. Twenty-four hours a day doesn’t seem all that long in the beginning. Every year the hours get longer, the minutes drag by and the seconds have just disappeared altogether.
The most important thing I’ve learned? I cannot do this job alone. Nobody can. I am a daughter and I’m also a caregiver…but I’m also a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a sister, a friend, not to mention business owner and no matter how much I try I just can’t seem to fit all of those hats on my head at once.
I’ve avoided getting help out of pure ignorance. How in the world do you get it and how in the HELL do you pay for it? I know I can’t be the only one. #amIright So this year I’m on a mission to figure all of this out. I am not an island (if I were, just call me Gilligan) and I cannot do it alone. I want to be a mom and wife and definitely a grandma and I’ve recognized that I can’t do it all. Repeat that three times in your head…I can’t do it all, I can’t do it all, I can’t do it all…
Help means different things to different people. Some may need full-time help like a nursing home and others may just want to catch a good movie or get a shower once in a while. I’m a mix of both. I love a good hot shower, but I mostly just want an occasional dinner out or weekend away with the hubby, a shopping day with my daughter, an uninterrupted playdate with the kids, or just a lazy week of not taking care of ANYBODY, but myself. #nevergonnahappen
Today, I’m just going to share some basic information and then as I figure it out I hope to share a lot more in 2018. While I was doing some research on this post I can across a terrific resource from a company called FamilyAssets.
The amount of information I learned from that one website was amazing! If you have questions about your state and are looking for full-time care this should be your very first stop. The images included in this post all came from that one directory.
Anyway, back to the important stuff. How do you even pay for it if you need it? I don’t have all of the answers. Actually, I barely have any of the answers, but that’s never stopped me before. If you’d like to learn with me make sure you sign up for by subscriber’s list and you won’t miss a single thing! Plus, you’ll get access to the TDAC resource library.
Here is some basic information that I came across on my first pass. I’ll be bringing you even more solid, usable information in the coming months that can help you get the assistance that you really need to be able to be all things to all people in your own life.
There are different financial resources available based on the type and level of care your loved one needs. These different programs are a mixture of government benefits and private sector solutions that can be available to you as you navigate the world of long-term care.
Nursing Home Care:
According to Medicaid, Nursing home care is available for those who require health-related care and services that cannot be provided in the community. If a patient ends up in a Nursing Home, they may be there for several different reasons, but if their stay is longer than 100 days, they will likely need to access Medicaid or pay privately. With the average cost of a nursing home semi-private room average $7,148, people often need to figure out Medicaid quickly. Below are some of the options for funding Nursing Home Care.
LTC insurance – Long Term Care Insurance is a great option if you are planning ahead and your family member meets the requirements. According to The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, LTC insurance can cover all different kinds of care and may enable someone to avoid a Nursing Home for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, if your family member is over the age of 69 or already very sick, the premiums may be prohibitively high not practical.
Medicaid – As mentioned above, Medicaid is a great solution for paying for nursing home care, but it has a lot of challenges. Most states only allow individuals to keep $30-100 a month of income and less than $2000 in assets in their bank account in order to qualify for Nursing Home care. The rest of an individual’s income goes to the nursing home to cover the cost of care. For example in Florida, individuals are only allowed to keep $2,000 of assets and $105 a month for their personal needs. Medicaid doesn’t pay for any personal luxuries (eg. haircuts, cable tv, etc.) so planning ahead for this benefit can be very smart. Smart planning can allow families to protect some assets and access the benefit.
Assisted Living can be a lower level of care than a Nursing Home, and in many cases may be a more desirable alternative. The issue, however, is that there are fewer government programs to pay for care, and the costs are still high, almost $4,000 a month. That being said, there are several strategies that can be employed in order to access funds to pay for care.
Sale of home with financing – Companies such as Elderlife Financial offer short-term bridge loans that enable individuals that are selling their homes to pay for care while they wait for funds from the sale of their home. It is not a perfect solution, but it can be helpful in a crunch situation.
Veterans Benefits – If your family member that needs care was a veteran, or married to a veteran, they may be eligible for benefits ranging from $1,149 to $2,837 month, which can go a long way towards covering the cost of care. The issue can be actually getting the benefits, as it can take up to 9 months for the VA to process an application. It may make sense to look into a VA Benefits planner or a VA Accredited attorney for help.
Medically Underwritten Annuity – Companies such as Genworth offer these newer annuity products that allow for a higher payout than a traditional annuity based on the patient’s health. It can help protect against the concern that everyone has when they move into assisted living which is how to pay for care over time.
Home care has been growing as a more popular alternative to assisted living and nursing home care because family members that need care can continue to do so at home. There are great Medicaid programs for home care in states like New York, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, but these are limited across the country. Look for your state’s area agency on aging to learn if you can qualify for assistance. There are several strategies that can help fund care at home:
Home equity loans – Reverse Mortgages, HELOCs, and traditional mortgages are all opportunities depending on the financial situation of the family applying for the product. The great thing about reverse mortgages is that a family with low income can access a large portion of their home equity to fund care. HELOCs and traditional mortgages both require fairly significant income, which excludes a large number of seniors.
Veterans benefits – The benefits that can be used for assisted living are also an option for home care.
Medicaid HCBS waivers – You can find information about each waiver program by state, but generally speaking the wait lists are long, and they are not as easy to access as Medicaid for Nursing Home care. In Florida, for example, there is a year or more wait in some counties to get Medicaid to provide services in the home.
I’m creating a new category for this series called “Help Me Now” and I’ll be adding it to the Caregiver’s drop-down menu. I’m also hoping to create a resource book for the library when we’re finished.