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It’s About Mom

It’s About Mom

Those three words form a huge percentage of calls for elder law services. The calls are made because adult children have come to realize that their elderly mom cannot safely take care of herself anymore. Whether caused by physical or cognitive issues, that mother who was a pillar of the family’s house through life needs help. What kind of help, where to get it, who is going to give it, and how can the family afford it are the critical questions.

The “what kind of help” relates to help with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting and personal safety. That means a family member, an employed caregiver, or a company, or a different living arrangement such as independent living with help, assisted living, or if there’s no other alternative, a skilled nursing facility. An experienced elder care coordinator who has
dealt with hundreds of elderly people can be godsend in helping the family decide on a safe care plan in the lease restrictive environment. Sometimes all a person needs is prompting or help with bathing several times a week. If more is needed, a part time or full time in home caretaker may be needed to keep mom safe. That is all determined by the seriousness of moms needs. If she’s at high risk of falling, then someone must be with her during her waking hours. When my mother was alive in her apartment, we had two wonderful caring women who started out at half a day, and over several years went to about twelve hours a day. But she wasn’t thriving, and our elder care coordinator said, “She is a very social person that needs more socialization by moving to an independent living facility.” We did that, keeping her caretakers and she put on twelve pounds in three weeks because she was eating three times a day with the other people. So where to get care varies by the amount of supervision, by moms desire for socialization, by geographic closeness to family members, and whether she only needs one person to help. If she can’t walk by herself or cannot make transfer from chair to walker or wheelchair, then she may need two people to assist and that almost necessitates a facility with many workers, and since the physical and cognitive faculties often decline over time, what works today may have to change in the future. That gets us to where to get that help.

Home is almost always the first choice. The layout of the house, the need to use stairs and safety of the bathroom are huge concerns, and the cost of maintaining the home also figures in. Assisted living can be a great answer if the care needs are not super high. It provides needs, a safe place to live, and socialization. There are numerous places in Connecticut that provide excellent assisted living. If there is
no practical alternative to a nursing home, then proximity to children is important, both for family contact with mom and to keep an eye on the care she is getting.

Who is going to give care may also include children or other family members. Obviously, they need to live close by and have the available time to devote to mom. Work and their own children as needs often prevent a family member from giving care. And often children go so far beyond what their time and stamina can allow, that they suffer “caregiver burnout.” That is not only bad for their health but
curtails their ability to care for mom.

How to pay for that care is often a critical issue. In Connecticut the laws are very strict, and getting stricter, but if mom can qualify, the funding under the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders will provide up to $5,945 per year for in home care. If mom is herself a veteran (my 98 year old mother in law is a WWII veteran) she can get up to $1,936 per month under the VA Aid + Attendance Program. There are different options under the programs, depending in the type of care, the amount of care, and whether an aide can get at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep for every 24 hours. Money follows the person is one program designed to transfer a person from a facility to home.

The rules are not simple and getting guidance on how to qualify, and what information to provide to the Connecticut Department of Social Services can make the difference in keeping mom in the best living setting possible, or not having a good choice.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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