Thinking About Moving Mom or Dad to a Nursing Home?

January 16, 2021

Older adults have been especially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but in ways you may not expect. Even if a person remains unscathed by COVID-19 directly, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the mental and physical health of all adults. Many people have skipped doctor appointments, routine physicals, and decreased their physical exercise in an effort to quarantine and avoid crowds. In many families, this has created a perfect storm of deteriorating health conditions that may require relocating the older family member to an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility, where they can receive around the clock care.

No one wants to think about moving their parents to an assisted living facility, but sometimes, it is best. At some point, you may need to step in and help make these difficult decisions about their care and well-being…and the start of a new year is the perfect time to assess your options.

There are some signs that might help you understand whether your parents could benefit from being in a senior housing community. Maybe Mom or Dad has lost some weight. There’s expired food in the fridge, the stove or other appliances have been left on, unpaid bills are piling up, and home maintenance does not seem to be on their radar. You might feel obligated to care for your parents and help them with these day-to-day tasks. But you have your own life and your own family to care for. Odds are, you do not have the time, or the skill set to give Mom or Dad the consistent attention they need.

This is where an assisted living facility or senior housing facility can help. The right place will be able to provide your parents with a safe, secure home, access to trusted senior care professionals, and most importantly, a close-knit community of other seniors like themselves. Perhaps you can talk through your options with a senior placement agency so you and your parents can plan this important transition together.

Often the first question is financial – how can we afford an assisted living facility? Nursing homes cost on average $9,485 a month in the state of Florida. Can you afford that? In many instances, Medicaid can pay for that. Our experiences Elder Law attorneys have strategies to make your parents eligible.

Proactive Medicaid Planning can be an extremely useful tool for families who may be faced with the need for nursing home care. Nursing homes are tremendously expensive and can eat up accumulated assets quickly. We employ legal and ethical methods that will transfer your parents’ assets so that they may qualify for Medicaid later in life. The most common method is by creating a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust.

A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is an Irrevocable Trust. The older individual, as the “Grantor” create the Trust, fund it with certain assets, and name an individual “Trustee,” to manage the Trust. They can specify exactly how the assets should be managed and be entitled to all the income for the rest of their life. The principal of the Trust assets will remain in the Trust until their death. When they pass away, the Trust assets will pass directly to the heirs as designated in the Trust. A great benefit to this Trust is that heirs can receive the assets without going through the probate estate administration process with the Court.

These types of Trusts are highly complex. Our Elder Care attorneys will guide you through the process and advise which assets should be placed into the Trust, assist with naming a qualified Trustee, and let you know the instances when you can make changes to the Trust, such as naming a new Trustee, and adding or removing beneficiaries. You can invest in your family’s future by protecting your assets today; our elder law practice helps families accomplish those goals the right way.

Aside from the financial portion, in assessing whether it is time to start proactively planning the transition to a “nursing home” you, as the caregiver, can expect to go through three emotional phases:

The Guilt. Mom and dad made you promise never to put them in “one of those places”. You stay up late at night thinking about this promise; nevertheless, knowing that your parents are not safe to be alone at home any longer. You are aware of all the logical reasons for mom or dad to move to a senior community, either independent living, assisted living or even memory care, but your emotions take over during the sudden pendulum shift from being just “the kid” to being “the caregiver”. There are so many factors that go into this decision; no two cases are alike and everyone’s relationships with their parents are also encased in years of family dynamics, great and not so great memories. Regardless of your current relationship, you play a huge role in their care now.

What Is Your situation? Are both parents still alive? Do you detect a decline in their day-to-day function? Maybe one parent is technically the caregiver. That in itself is problematic since it’s generally the caregiver whose health is at a greater risk with the added stress and physical toll that this role has on him or her. If your parent is widowed or single and living alone, you have the added responsibility of making sure they have all their necessities.

If your parent is still making their own dinner or taking a shower and dressing, then likely they will be an integral part of the decision to move to independent or assisted living. If you have noticed some lapses in memory, the bills are not getting paid (maybe the cable or electric and water have been shut off), then it is time to take control of the situation. Unfortunately, when we wait too long and typically let the situation drive us and not us driving the situation, bad events start to happen.

What bad events can occur? Someone takes a fall while bathing and dressing. That can cause a fracture or a rapid decline in daily function, which suddenly throws you into a head spin because guilt may paralyze your logical thinking in trying to get a plan together. Usually this is the time when many of our clients take action and enlist the help of someone who can walk you through the options, starting with an Elder Law Attorney who is well versed in Florida Medicaid planning.

Finding the best option for your mom or dad is a process. It may or may not happen quickly. If you plan for it, you will have better, more long-lasting results and a good outcome, which is for your parents to be happy and content in their new setting. If you wait for an accident to happen, the situation will dictate the result, which is not the best result for either your parent or you.

OC Estate and Elder Law focuses on providing hands-on, concierge-level support to our clients. Our mission is to help provide you and your family peace of mind for the new chapter ahead. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or info@ocestatelawyers.comfor a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian. Call us today.