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View Diary: Why Grandma Will Be At The Door, Suitcase In Hand (168 comments)

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  •  Here's how it works... (8+ / 0-)

    When Grandma is diagnosed with senile dementia, and it has become clear that she cannot live alone anymore, the family springs into action.

    We sell her condo, hold a big estate sale and sell what needs sold, and move her most precious possessions into a lovely assisted living apartment.  Her entire estate is controlled by her son, through a power of attorney, and he pays the bills for her stay.

    They live in a rural area, so her care is relatively affordable at first.  Assisted living, which includes all meals and frequent checks by staff, is about $3500 a month (this was a few years back, so it's definitely more now).  This works out well for awhile.

    Then, Grandma has a health crisis.  It's bad enough to send her to the hospital for awhile, and then it becomes clear that she can't go back to assisted living, so she moves into a skilled nursing facility.  Cost: $6000 a month.

    Son pays the bills until the money is all gone.  Grandma doesn't know it, because she's mentally gone, but she's outlived her money.  Her son has spent every last dime of her estate on her care, and there is no more money left.  

    So, she gets covered entirely by Medicare.  For the last four years of her life.  When she dies at age 95, her last expenses thoughfully prepaid by her son, out of her estate (allowed by the law, of course)...she has had excellent care thanks to the Medicare system.

    I cannot envision our family being able to come up with $6000 a month.  It would have bankrupted all of us.  She could not have been cared for at home, given her medical conditions--she needed skilled nursing care 24/7.  And her son and his wife were too old themselves to properly care for her.

    If they turn Medicare into a voucher program, many bad things will happen.   Grandmas will show up on doorsteps, yes.  Families will declare bankruptcy.  Families might even take the horrifying step of "emancipating" themselves from elderly family members, so as not to be financially responsible for them.  It will be bad, no question.  They cannot be allowed to do this to our seniors and to us, their loving family members who are trying to do the best they can for them.

    DailyKos: Saving us from "The Oligarhy of Teh Stupid", one diary at a time.

    by Exurban Mom on Tue May 31, 2011 at 08:28:09 PM PDT

    •  how the health crisis goes (5+ / 0-)

      Here's what I saw happen with my S.O.'s grandmother:

      She moved into assisted living ($5K/month), and everything was fine for awhile. She had an acute illness, so she rode that out in the hospital for a couple of days, then in a nursing home for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, even when she's in the hospital or nursing home, you continue to pay to keep the assisted living apartment. After all, when she recovers (you hope) she still needs a place to return to.

      The hospital isn't so bad in one sense, because Medicare pays for much of that. Financially, the nursing home adds insult to injury because it costs even more than the assisted living, which you have to continue paying for anyway.

      Grandma made the assisted living-hospital-nursing home circuit three times before dying in the nursing home. The whole saga lasted about 14 months. Of the $140,000 she had when she entered assisted living there was about $12,000 left in her estate when she died.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Tue May 31, 2011 at 09:21:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't know if this was a typo (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Julie Gulden, tardis10, jfromga, Matt Z

      but Medicare almost certainly did not cover her last four years of life, except for her actual medical expenses. Medicare does not cover custodial care (e.g., room and board) -- that's the most important point of the diary, I think. Democratic efforts may save Medicare (health care for those over 65, primarily) -- payments to doctors, hospitals, and for short-term nursing home stays in large part -- but we must also save Medicaid and its state components to have any possibility of surviving the coming nursing home tsunami.

      No criticism intended -- I have just recently lived through an extremely similar situation (minus the dementia, but with analogous physical disability) and am painfully aware of the different moving parts and how confusing they can be. If she was not on Medicaid, someone else may have been paying and not telling the rest of the family so as not to make them feel bad, but someone other than Medicare was paying for her non-medical expenses if she outlived her money.

      Blessings on her son -- I have walked in his shoes. And on the others who did as much as they could.

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