Is it Time to Put Mom in a Nursing Home?

Those of us with elderly parents understand. We live in fear of the “the call”. We know it will come, we just don’t know when. We try not to think about it. But then it does – “Mom fell. She’s in the hospital. They are going to have to do surgery.”

It is what happens next that we fear. Will she be able to go back home and live on her own after the surgery? We know it’s not likely. Bones don’t heal well at her age. Our minds race. “Well, I guess she could move in with me”, we think. “Of course, I can take care of her”. But we know that is not really a good solution. How are we to maintain our work schedule and take care of her 24/7? We can’t afford to quit our jobs. How will the bills get paid? What about saving for our kid’s college – or our own retirement? And we are not trained or equipped to provide the care she needs. How are we going to manage it?

Maybe we could hire in home health care. “Yes, that might work”, we think. We make some calls and start adding up the cost. At $19 an hour. . . that’s over $3,000 a month! And that’s only for 40 hours a week. The doctor says she really needs someone with her 24/7. And Medicare doesn’t cover it.

So reluctantly, we consider putting Mom in a nursing home. We really don’t want to, but what can we do?

If this is you, let me ease your fears. There are actually many benefits to nursing home care over home care or moving in with family.

  • Professional Care – nursing homes provide 24/7 skilled nursing care. There will be a trained nurse on duty at all times to tend to her medical needs. If there is a medical crisis, it can be responded to immediately. They are also there to help her in and out of bed, in and out of wheelchairs, help her dress and bathe, etc.
  • Meals and Housekeeping – nursing homes provide all meals and housekeeping services. She will not have to struggle to try to cook on her own or prepare her own food. Instead she will have healthy meals planned by a registered dietician. The staff will also take care of housekeeping and laundry so that her living space is clean and she always has clean clothes to wear.
  • Security – nursing homes provide a secure environment with staff and security on property 24/7. You will not have to worry about her forgetting to lock the door or being taken advantage of by a scam artist who comes to her door posing as a nice neighbor.
  • Social Interaction – probably the biggest benefit of a nursing home is the social environment. Residents interact not just with staff but with other residents. They form friendships with their peers. Nursing homes have communal dining halls where residents can eat together and socialize. They also offer community rooms where residents can play cards and board games, watch movies together, meet for coffee or just hang out. This social interaction greatly increases the quality of life and it has been shown that seniors live longer when they have satisfying social relationships.
  • Relief for Family – nursing homes relieve the burden on families. And because the family is not stressed and burden with the task of providing care they are not equipped to provide, they are able to visit with their elderly parent in a relaxed environment and spent quality time together.

These are a few of the benefits of nursing home care. But of course, there is still the cost. The good news is that, while Medicare does not cover in-home non-medical assistance, there are options and benefits available to cover skilled nursing care in a nursing home. The system can be daunting, confusing and frustrating. It can also cost you money unnecessarily if proper planning is not done. Luckily, with good guidance, the planning and paperwork can be done quickly. So even if you are facing an immediate need, help is available.

If you would like more information about long-term care planning and a free evaluation of your case by an experienced Estate Planning and Medicaid attorney, give us a call at 281-727-0016. Help is available!