Your mom is getting older, and her health is changing. You’re starting to wonder if you put off considering her long-term care plans longer than you should have.
When is the best time to discuss aging and the right time to make plans for her estate, long-term care, and powers of attorney designations? How do you get started?
It’s Better to Choose Sooner Over Later
Don’t push off this critical conversation. The best way to ensure your mom’s plans are followed is by making sure you’ve planned in advance.
A lot of families don’t realize that long-term care needs are rarely covered by health insurance or Medicaid. If your mom has Alzheimer’s, her around-the-clock need for supervision to prevent wandering or other harmful behaviors isn’t covered. She pays out of pocket.
The only time Medicare helps pay for the care is when it is medically necessary nursing home care. A patient needing skilled nursing care may qualify for 20 days of skilled care. After that, if additional care is needed, another 80 days may be approved.
Medicaid is another option, but one must meet the income and asset requirements. Typically, a person who qualifies for Medicaid is out of assets. It’s a long application process, so most people find it easier to work with an elder law attorney who specializes in Medicaid rules.
Know Your Mom’s Wishes
Make sure you know your mom’s wishes for care. Does she hate the idea of moving to a retirement community? Is her dream to stay in her home for as long as she can?
Go over the different scenarios. If your mom had the choice to bring home care aides into her home to help out, would she want that? Does she feel it’s better to have friends and family helping her for as long as possible? That’s also something to consider.
You also have to be honest about the amount of time you have. If you work full-time and something happens to your mom, could you stop working and help out? If it would be financially straining, you have to look at whether or not you could be paid to be her family caregiver.
Take Preventative Measures to Protect Her Interests
Once you know what your mom would want, talk to her about the steps she’s taken to protect herself. Does she have a living will or advanced directives in place? If she hasn’t laid out what care she’d want in different scenarios, she’s overdue.
If your mom had a stroke and couldn’t speak, she’d be at the mercy of the doctors to decide if she should be given a feeding tube or put on a ventilator. If she wants control over care needs like that, she needs to designate a medical power of attorney.
Talk to an elder law attorney about POAs, living wills, and more. The attorney can help your mom better understand the steps she can take to protect her wishes for long-term care now and in the future.