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Keeping a Parent at Home With In-Home Caregivers

Home SignBeing able to remain at home until the end of life is extremely important to many people. Not only does it allow a person to stay in familiar and comforting surroundings, it also provides a greater amount of independence and preserves dignity. But, as we get older, living on our own becomes ever more challenging. In addition to health issues, it can be a struggle just to manage routine daily self-care and household tasks.

Thankfully, there are many home care options that make it possible for older adults to enjoy their homes until the end of their days. Unfortunately, paying for these caregivers can get very expensive very quickly, especially if the person in question requires 24/7 care, which—for people of extremely advanced age or those dealing with even mild chronic conditions—is very common.

Paying for Care When Money Runs Low

Our client, Marissa, had a 100-year-old mother who needed that level of care. While mom was mentally competent and clear headed, health issues had compromised her physical stability and strength to the point where she needed constant assistance. As her mom’s power of attorney, Marissa came to us looking for help in paying for the care her mom needed.

Marissa’s was a very common situation. Her mom had run out of money fairly early on, wasn’t eligible for Medicare to pay for caregivers, and hadn’t applied for Medicaid because she assumed that her income and status as a homeowner would disqualify her application. The result was that Marissa and her sister had been paying out of pocket for a long time to cover the cost of 24/7 caregivers.

Marissa’s sister was providing the bulk of the financial support—drawing on her retirement and savings each month to cover the caregiver shortfall. But she was starting to reach a point where she was depleting her resources to a level that put her own financial security at risk. In addition the sisters’ mom was distressed knowing that her children were making such deep sacrifices for her care.

Diverting Income With a Pooled Trust

When Marissa reached out to us, she and her sister had calculated that they only had enough money to cover another six months of care. They were, as the saying goes, getting down to the wire. Marissa had no idea what to do, where to turn. She didn’t feel like she had any options. After assessing her situation, we recommended a strategy that would allow her to continue covering her mother’s caregiver expenses without further depleting her or her sister’s savings or putting either of them into debt.

While Marissa was correct in assuming that her mom’s gross income (which was over the Medicaid cap) would make it impossible for them to secure Medicaid, her home ownership would not disqualify her and we were able to suggest a “Pooled Trust,” which we could set up with PLAN of Connecticut (Planned Lifetime Assistance Network).

A PLAN Pooled Trust allows persons over the age of 65 with a disability to divert excess income
into a trust that can then be used to pay for household expenses or other services.

This type of trust is especially helpful for people who are committed to staying in their own homes with the support of outside care services, but who would not otherwise qualify for a Medicaid Homecare program because their income exceeds the cap. So diverting the additional income into the trust makes it possible for Marissa’s mom to qualify for Medicaid.

Filing for Medicaid

We worked with Marissa to establish a Pooled Trust and to help her with the home-care Medicaid application. Although the Medicaid application was delayed due to extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19, it was approved and they were finally able to get the financial help they had hoped for.

In an email she sent to let us know that her mom had been granted Medicaid which would provide home healthcare assistance, Marissa thanked our team for all our help…

“Thank you for guiding me through this process,” she said. “I’m especially grateful that you told me not to delay in submitting the Medicaid application. I’ve learned so much, and it’s a great relief to finally have this financial help.”

After living an extraordinarily long and very fulfilled life, Marissa’s mom passed away not too long after we had helped ensure her ongoing care. She was happy to have been able to stay in her own home, and she was grateful that her daughters did not have to continue covering her care expenses for the last few months of her life.

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