It had been a while since Ross spent time with his dad, Jack. Like everyone else, Ross was busy with work and kids, and he didn’t see his parents as often as he would like. More out of guilt than anything, Ross canceled several commitments he had made for Super Bowl parties this year so that he and his son could watch the game with his dad.
The afternoon did not go well. Throughout the visit, he noticed things about his dad that caused concern. Jack recognized Ross’s son, Ben, but he had difficulty remembering his name. He told the same stories several times throughout the night without realizing it. He even seemed confused about what teams were playing. His physical condition seemed worse than normal, too. Ross asked his mom how dad was doing, but she seemed to be in denial.
The next morning, Ross called his sister, Monica, to talk about dad. They decided to push for two things. First, they wanted their mom to take Jack in for a doctor’s appointment. Second, they scheduled a consult with an elder law attorney to find out what steps their parents could take to make sure dad received the help he might need without causing financial struggle for mom. With the average monthly cost of a nursing home nearing $6,000 and assisted living fees not far behind, they had reason to be concerned.
The doctor’s visit was informative and more tests were scheduled, but the consult with the elder law attorney was really enlightening. Ross realized during the meeting that a lot of his mom’s denial about his dad’s condition came from fear. Judy knew people who lost their homes because their husbands had to go to nursing homes. Of course she worried about Jack’s health more than anything, but her financial situation terrified her, too.
The attorney told Judy that Medicaid was there to help if Jack needed a nursing home, and he explained some steps they could take to protect their home. He also outlined the income rules Judy could take advantage of to meet her own expenses. Judy didn’t have much income in her own name, but the attorney said she would be permitted to keep almost $1,200 of Jack’s income before paying anything to the facility. Finally, the attorney reassured Judy that she would actually get to keep more of the couple’s financial resources than she expected.
Judy, Ross, and Monica were hopeful that, after all the medical tests were complete, the doctors would determine that Jack had many more healthy years before a nursing home would enter the picture. But the family was able to sleep easier at night knowing that, when dad needed more help, Judy would still be financially secure.