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Keeping Your Spouse at Home

Keeping Your Spouse at Home

As married couples age into their later years they are often faced with significant decline in the mental and physical functioning of one of them. The healthy spouse usually goes to extraordinary lengths to give help to the one needing care, sometimes wearing out the healthy spouse. It is often said that the only thing worse than one sick spouse, is two sick spouses, because that decreases the chance that the one needing the most help can stay at home. Here is some information and ideas on how to keep your spouse at home.

To begin, the healthy one must recognize that there is a need for outside help. At a certain point, doing it alone may lead to worse problems. We have seen more than one wife get hurt trying to stop her husband from falling. And we have seen many spouses losing weight and health due to the round the clock strain of caring for their loved one. After recognizing the need for help, get good advice on what kind of care is available, how much is needed, and how you can afford to pay for it.

Our firm has three elder care coordinators who understand the care needs, know the
companies that provide such care, and understand what kinds of care can be paid for by government programs. They go to the home and evaluate the needs and can outline solutions. Then the issue is how to afford the care. That is where state and federal programs can help.

For wartime veterans, or widows of wartime veterans, there is a program called Aid & Attendance which can pay up to $23,238 per year for a qualifying veteran, and up to $14, 934 for a qualifying widow of a veteran. If the VA is available, Connecticut will require that someone applying for Connecticut programs first apply for the VA.

The Connecticut Home Care Program for the Elderly has two separate programs. They evaluate the care needs for bathing, dressing, feeding, transferring (from a bed, a toilet) and overall safety risk. A safety risk can include risk of falling, wandering, leaving the stove on, or overdosing on medications. A person who can’t do two of the needs, can functionally qualify for the lower level program which is solely funded by Connecticut. There is a 9% copay but for many people who are in the early stages of dementia that assistance may just be enough to keep the sick spouse safe and the healthy spouse sane.

The higher level program is funded half by the state and half by the federal government through Medicaid. It can provide up to eight hours a day, and in some cases a live in Aide, as long as the caretaker can get up to 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. This is how people can be kept at home, avoid having the healthy spouse wear out (called caregiver burnout) and not wipe out all of the family’s assets.

A typical couple may start out with just a few hours a day. That might only be a
companion to keep a person with dementia from wandering, or making sure meals are taken. This gives the well spouse a few hours to shop, run errands, or simply get a brief break from the unrelenting task of supervising a spouse with severe dementia. The care programs could provide for day care at one of several places in the central Connecticut area. Several years ago we helped a family get day care for the mother. The facility providing the day care gave tasks to the participants, such as setting the tables for lunch. After two weeks the mother complained to the children that she had not gotten her paycheck for the work she did. But it gave her husband a much-needed break.

This short article cannot go through all the details of the programs, or how to qualify, but the important point to keep in mind is that there are good companies that can provide significant care, not just to keep the sick spouse at home, but to preserve the health of the well spouse. The other critical point is that there are programs that can help families afford the care. Stay safe and don’t run yourself ragged. Your spouse needs you to be a key part of staying at home.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) 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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PH:  (860) 259-1500
Fax: (860) 259-1502

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