Keeping Mom Home May Cost More Than You Think
“I had no idea bringing in someone to help care for mom would cost so much money”, Jennifer cried.
“We really wanted to keep her at home but Mom needs a lot of care right now. She had a stroke and is doing pretty good but will need ongoing care. We could easily spend $6000 to $14000 per month on caregivers alone!”
And That's Not All
And Mom would still need to pay for her medical insurance, medications, food and daily living essentials. Her home bills including utilities would still come due every month. Getting old was costly Jennifer surmised.
Medicare paid for her mother to go to a skilled nursing facility for 20 days to have some speech and occupational therapy after her stroke. Jennifer assumed they would pay for caregivers at home also. But she was surprised to discover that Medicare would not cover the cost of someone to help mom at home. Jennifer had to work and mom needed someone there around the clock.
Home Health Care
The social worker told her that Medicare would approve Home Health Care for her. But they are not going to stay with Mom around the clock. Home Health Care will come in a few times a week to provide services like therapy and a nurse to monitor her progress. Once their task is accomplished they are on their way to visit another patient.
Mom needed a caregiver to help her get dressed, go to the bathroom, cook meals and even help to feed her. She needed someone who could go to the grocery store and the pharmacy and take mom to the doctor. This kind of care is called private pay home care. That means the money comes out of your pocket. The going rate in Houston right now is $18 to $24 per hour. The more hours you contract for the lower the rate will go.
How Long Would Mom Need Care
Like most families in this kind of situation Jennifer did the math and realized mom would be broke soon at this rate. And the truth was nobody knew how long mom would live. Furthermore, she may need more care in the future. Jennifer hoped she would get better with time and therapy but she didn’t know for sure.
Assisted Living-Not Much Better
The facilities in Houston were less expensive than care at home, but not much. A nice assisted living in Houston starts at $3500 and there are not very many at that price. With all of the extra help her mom needed that price would increase to at least $4500 on the low end. Furthermore, Mom was beginning to show signs of dementia since her stroke. And dementia care runs that bill up. In Houston expect to pay $5000 + for Dementia Care. And yes, we are talking monthly fees! Furthermore, remember you will still have to pay for insurance and medications.
There May Be Help
The social worker and discharge planner sat down with Jennifer to discuss her options. They asked if Jennifer’s mother or father had ever been a veteran. The good news was dad was a veteran of the Korean war. He passed away a couple of years ago.
Because of his service, Mom could probably receive an Aid and Attendance benefit to help out. It would take 3 to 6 months to get approved. But once she was approved she could expect about $1000 per month to help pay for care. It wouldn’t cover it all but it was a good start. She was referred to Elizabeth Hilbun, an Elder Law Attorney, with the Hilbun Law Firm in Cypress, Texas. Elizabeth could help her to fill out and submit the paperwork.
Long Term Care Insurance?
They also asked if her mother had a long-term care insurance policy. If she did it may cover some of the cost of a caregiver in the home or for an assisted living facility. Jennifer wasn’t sure if Mom had one but she was going to find out.
Unfortunately, Jennifer’s Mom never purchased a long- term care policy. She told Jennifer she was sorry she had not done so. Because of her mother’s health condition it was now too late to purchase a policy.
A Stressful Move
The sad news is that Jennifer had to move her mother from the home she loved. She had to give up a lot of her things since her assisted living room was quite small. The process was stressful for both Jennifer and her mother. There was a lot of work that needed to be done quickly.
And in the middle of trying to move mom both ladies were grieving. Jennifer was grieving for the able- bodied mother she had lost. And her mother was grieving the loss of her independence and her home.
A New Role
Jennifer was thrust into the role of care manager. She was responsible for making sure all of Mom’s needs were met. Furthermore, she had to manage the finances to make sure mom had enough money to pay for future care needs.
A long-term care policy would have made a huge difference for Jennifer and her mother. Would there still have been stress? Absolutely! But taking the financial burden away would have made the whole situation much easier to bear.
As Certified Long-Term Care professionals since 2003, and members of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, both Sue and Allison have the training, knowledge, and experience to help you understand your options.
With over 20 years of experience, both women are committed to ensuring that their client’s long-term care needs are met while their wealth is protected.
Sue Myers CLTC and Allison Younger CLTC