Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Friend Wonders Where to Begin When Her Loved One Needs More Help

Dear Nanette,

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but my father-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease. My husband and I are working full-time with young children and can’t take on the responsibility for his care. Worse yet, none of my siblings can help with cash outlays. What do you suggest? Hope you are well.



Dear Lorraine,

Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options. If your father-in-law is not too medically disabled and doesn't require 24/7 nursing assistance, assisted living is your best bet. It's half the cost of a nursing home. And, here are a few ways you and your family can pay for it.

Did your father-in-law serve in the Armed Forces? Veterans' Benefits can definitely take a while to get going, but an assisted living facility may be able assist you with filling out the paperwork. If he qualifies for Veteran Benefits, a facility will take him in with his Social Security, and the government will pay retroactively if more money is necessary.

What about a life insurance policy or drawing on an annuity? If his house is paid for, you could go with a reverse mortgage, and he could be taken care of in his own home. Or, you could look at renting out the home, using the proceeds for his accommodations.

You might also consider an adult family home, which typically houses about six to 10 older or disabled persons. While they lack the staff, separate apartments and fancier décor of assisted living facilities, the cost is considerable lower. Dad's Social Security and rent from the house could cover this. Dad will be in a safe place (we have three in our neighborhood) and be taken care of in a family environment.

No family resources? This is typical. Avoid taking on the financial responsibility, even though the state sets us up to take on the whole enchilada. Now, in Canada, it's all paid for through taxes…what a concept, huh? No wonder you were feeling so anxious. If you've been working without any professional assistance, you must be feeling more than a little anxious…desperate even. We supported my late husband’s mother for over a decade in the late 1950s and 1960s. She was penniless. She always came before our own children in terms of her needs. There was absolutely no assistance at that time. Always the family; only the family.

One other option exists. If any of your siblings are unemployed, maybe they could take care of Dad in their own home, using their father’s Social Security money to help with costs.

Seem overwhelming? First, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for free help navigating through the maze of signing up for public benefits (if eligible). A geriatric care manager could also be invaluable in finding a suitable place for your father-in-law.

This must be such a sad time for you and your family. It seems to be happening everywhere we turn. Parents age, dementia sets in, and they're like children, and must be cared for by their own adult children. Who's prepared to take this one on? Well, no one really, to be perfectly honest!

But there you have it. When it comes time for one generation to take care of another, you’ll have to follow the old adage and “just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.”

Please let me know how your situation unfolds. My very best wishes—I'll vision you and your family finding the strength, courage and unity to give loving service to Dad —and may you all prosper!



1 comment:

  1. An excellent response! All really good ideas. I'd emphasize that whoever takes on the role of primary caregiver should not try to do it alone. One of the siblings--not the main caregiver-- could visit the website and set up an easy, free, and secure (private) webpage with a calendar where friends and family members can sign up to help the primary caregiver or the dad with meals, driving, grocery shopping, etc., if he stays in his own home or moves in with a son or daughter. This takes a lot of pressure off of the main caregiver to do everything by themselves.