Caring for your loved ones
First, some good news. This entry brought to you by this sexy vintage 1990s IBM keyboard (thank you, Hun!) This is one of those clacky ones where they keys are tight and you can’t make a mistake because it just feels too damn good!!! Not sure where to get these anymore except to luck-out at a thrift store.
Retro keys are sexy!!!
Now, the somber.
Let me tell you about painful experiences that loved ones are going through now so that you may benefit from these lessons. All names and details kept confidential to protect privacy.
He has something wrong with his brain but doesn’t want to find out. To have any clue would entail a two-hour cognitive exam by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist (or other professional able to administer the test) which is more thorough than the 15-minute assessment at the neurologist’s office. I cannot blame him for not wanting the diagnosis. His dad died in his early 50s from “hardening of the arteries,” a term given in the late-1950s when they have no clue; and, his wife’s parents both had confirmed Alzheimer’s (diagnosed by post-mortem autopsy) and he slept on the couch for 10-plus years so his wife’s ailing Mom could have a bed and so his teen-age daughter could still have her own room and privacy.
Now, he needs help and here’s the reality:
Although he and his wife are fortunate to have a monthly pension, modest savings, and social security, it’s not enough to cover one person’s care anywhere in Austin, TX or surrounding areas (minimum: $3,900 per person, per month for a modest assisted living facility that specializes in dementia). Meanwhile, the unattainable luxurious accommodations start at $5,000 per person, per month. Either way, Medicare won’t pay for any of it since it’s “custodial care” and their pensions are too much income to qualify for Medicaid (which frowns big-time upon fraud through hiding assets, as you’ll see at the link). Right now, his mental condition is also not bad enough, yet, to require assisted living but, if it’s any dementia except “pseudo-dementia” (undiagnosed depression), then we all know the outcome is beyond any current treatment.
She would have no place to go:
In another story, she is already in nursing home with dementia and her pension is not enough to cover costs (short by about $1,600 per month and loved ones must pay the difference; otherwise, she would have no place to go since her care is too critical to be at home but not severe enough to be at a hospital and this would also be more expensive).
I used to think that if you need full-time nursing care, you go to the emergency room or stay at the hospital. Oh how foolish I have been.
We must start caring for each other because there is no one else except the wealthy who can afford it and all people deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity until death! Even if you do everything right by working hard and saving money, it still may not be enough to provide for your care!
Insufficient (but starting place) advice to help protect your loved ones:
If you don’t have one, get a will, a living will, and durable power of attorney. Depending upon the situation, you may also want a revocable living trust (thank you Suze Orman). The problem is that if you don’t have a will in Texas then your estate will always go to probate court (regardless what your spouse, family or loved ones may want to happen). What makes it worse is that your surviving loved ones will have to provide proof to the court that their relationship to you was amenable (non-legal term) and this can go on for a very long time and can include anyone who wants to say they may have a claim to your estate (relative or not). Also, keep in mind that minor children can NEVER inherit money (it must be handled by a trustee whom you designate so do this for them today)! In Texas alone, due to case backlog and complexity, one case (even a simple one) can take years to resolve and any remaining estate may be gone by the time court costs and fees are paid.
Buy long-term care insurance. Unless you are a multi-millionaire with few expenses, income and pensions are not enough to pay for your care. Thanks to medical and scientific advances, we are living longer than ever but the irony is we cannot afford our own care!
Save as much money as possible – start now (you may need it later).
Stay healthy for as long as possible. Check with your doctor and maybe start doing hot yoga? Also, if you’re fortunate enough to have insurance and/or can somehow afford to get lab work done at the doctor’s office, please do so to find out if there are any supplements you may need to take to help extend your life and to preserve your cognitive function.