How to look for the Warning Signs that your loved one(s) can no longer live alone
The holidays and their aftermath are the busiest time of year for long-term care admissions.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, families get together and many are seeing Mom and/or Dad for the first time in months. Some will discover that their parent’s health has declined and he or she should not be left to live on their own any longer.
Warning signs that your parent may need to be evaluated for in-home nursing assistance, or a move to a more supportive setting, can be found in three areas of impairment: Memory (verbal clues), Health (physical clues), condition of home (visual clues).
Here are some examples to look for:
- Confusion or forgetfulness about taking medications or who family members are
- Unstable/unbalanced (at risk of falling), loss of stamina and strength
- Change in hygiene habits or housekeeping (plants in the fridge or stove?)
Most families are not prepared for this and they don’t have a plan or resources, so the situation becomes traumatic and heart-breaking for everyone. It doesn’t have to be that way. Every family should be talking about this now and exploring options. Families should construct a three point plan for how they will discuss this matter with their loved one(s) and then act:
- Siblings and spouses on same page about situation and next steps
- Everyone needs an assigned job because “it takes a village”
- Understand different types of care and how to pay (Medicare v. Medicaid / Private Pay / Insurance options)
Once everyone is on the same page, ease into the discussion. Don’t just jump to “it’s time to move into a nursing home”! It also helps to bring in an objective third-party expert opinion. Look for a certified geriatric care planner in your area. They know how to evaluate the situation and then lay out care and financial options. If your loved one is arguing against getting homecare or making the move into assisted living, there are some positives to balance the loss of independence you can point out:
- Are they living isolated now? This can increase socialization and transportation
- How are they doing caring for themselves? This can improve hygiene and nutrition
- Are they in danger living alone? This can significantly improve their safety
- Are they properly taking care of their health? They will receive professional Healthcare and assistance with medications
Here are some other tips to help families better plan:
- Remember, there are many levels of care available. From a few hours of in-home assistance each week to residential communities that provide daily assistance with meals, laundry, etc., to a nursing home that provides round-the-clock care, there are many options to consider. Generally speaking, finding ways to keep your loved one at home for as long as possible is the least disruptive – and least expensive – option.
- Avoid resorting to Medicaid if at all possible. Nursing-home care costs start at $5,000 to $8,000 a month, which is often beyond the means of people otherwise considered financially healthy. Many families turn to Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, but it comes with many restrictions, including choice of facilities. In a situation where one spouse is healthy and the other is not, the spouse living independently will also face restrictions on the amount of assets he or she can retain, for instance, as of July 1, 2013, a maximum $2898.00 for monthly maintenance.
- Don’t simply stop paying on a life insurance policy to save money. Any life insurance policy can be converted into a protected Long-Term Care Benefit fund which will pay for any level of care, from in-home to hospice. Policy holders typically receive 30 to 60 percent of the death benefit value when they convert the policy specifically to pay for long-term care. The benefit qualifies as a Medicaid spend-down, which means they’ll still be eligible for that program if the money runs out.
For more insight into preparing to see a loved one after time away, listen to Chris Orestis’ segment on the Frankie Boyer radio show.