Monday, January 30, 2017

Florida and Back Again

In a system where the cost of care is hidden by taxes levied on your income, property, and business activities, it is no wonder why so many Americans rely on Medicaid to pay their long term care.
-Michael Burgess


My husband's mother is not recuperating as well as we had hoped. She has been so weak that taking ten steps with a walker was her very best two weeks ago and it was the most she had walked since she was taken into the hospital the second time due to the infection. She walked up to about forty steps with a walker at least once this week, but there are other health concerns that has developed since this last incident of which we are now aware that require she have more care than we thought she would need and she cannot yet dress herself.

My daughter and I, taking Mishka along, packed up and met my husband flying in to Atlanta from Connecticut on Thursday morning over a week ago. For some reason I only was able to sleep two hours the night before, so I gladly surrendered the driver's seat to him and slept most of the way to Florida. We had planned that I would drive back on Monday, but my husband asked for me to stay with him one more day, so I drove us all back on the following Tuesday...all but my husband, that is. He was working on the west side of Florida in Tampa on Wednesday and Friday, but was able to talk with an elderly care law attorney on Tuesday and Thursday when he went back to the east side.

While there this time, we began to think that his mother may be past the point where living with us would be sensible; we have not yet given up on that completely, but it is more likely that she will need assisted living, at least. If she does not improve in her evaluations, she may be staying in the nursing home/rehab center. We really cannot make any plans until we see how far she does recuperate, but we are taking over her finances and rerouting her mail, at least for the time being, and she seems completely agreeable and resigned to that. In fact, we noticed that she just had not seem very motivated to try harder, as if she really does not want to leave there...and yet I am sure there are some things she does not like about staying there also as she complains about such things to us. However, once we explained that we were thinking that buying a house together with at least three bedrooms and three full bathrooms with the master suite on the main floor for her, she seemed to begin to warm up to the idea. At the time, we thought that giving her something to look forward to might help motivate her to work harder, but then we began to see that another problem she had not had before might mean that is not feasible at all.

And then something else....

My husband talked to an attorney to make sure of certain financial arrangements and to understand our options should his mother continue needing care. It turns out that she is entitled to veteran's benefits since her husband served in the Korean War that we had not considered, but they pay more if she is in assisted living and not a nursing home. While it can take months after filing the paperwork, they will pay retroactively once she is approved, so between Medicare and her VA benefit, she will be doing well enough financially with just a bit left over if in assisted living.

If she needs more care as in a nursing home, then she is on Medicaid and that gets more complicated. Medicaid looks back five years, so if certain assets are transferred or gifted or even sold they can penalize the person that amount. Basically, you need to be destitute to qualify.

Currently there is a legal reason that it would be better for her to stay in Florida. Although we know it would be too complicated and not good for her health to move her right now anyway, we do not like the idea of leaving her without any family near by. Plus, if all goes as we have been told, then there is no urgent need to sell her house. Since we will likely have to make several trips to Florida to see her and be sure that she is getting good care, we can stay in her house until such time as we can move her to Georgia, closer to us, if that is a possibility.

Also, her house is in an area where property values are expected to increase sharply because of a major project just a few miles west. They are building a new city apparently, therefore waiting to sell later should be advantageous. So, while I am anxious to get everything settled, it may be that we are to be patient because God has a better plan for all of us....I do hope that is so, because we have usually miss out with financial timing in the past.

My Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and hear only Your voice throughout all of this.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.