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Elder Law Articles

The Bright Side of Things

The Bright Side of Things

Families with ageing loved ones are naturally dismayed over a decline in their physical and mental capabilities. There is often no way to stop that natural progression in life, but there are ways and means to help cope with handling everyday life. The first is for the spouse or younger family members to observe the functions that are declining; such as memory, balance, judgement, movement and safety awareness. In early stages of decline, just checking on mom or dad over the phone or in person may be enough to evaluate if there is any risk of harm. I can still remember a phone call from a friend of my mother’s calling me to say “I saw her go through a stop sign.” That is a dreaded call for any child, as it leads to a decision at some point on no longer driving. For many that can be an extremely difficult decision, because that car is the means and symbol of independence. Fortunately for our family, she willingly relinquished driving as she lived in an apartment building with numerous friends her own age who were willing to take her to her usual stores and church.

The need for help with feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting and being safe is where the significant problems arise. If someone can’t use that fork or spoon to put food into their mouth, a helper must do it. If a person doesn’t dress themselves appropriately for the weather, that can lead to injury. If they don’t bathe regularly, or soil their clothes without cleaning up, health problems will ensue. If mom or dad would try to cook and turn on the stove burner and not remember to turn it off, tragedy is a risk. Enough of the dark side of decline.

The bright side, is that in Connecticut there are various programs that can pay for significant help to keep people in their own homes, or at other places that are the least restrictive possible. And for those who served as active duty military during wartime, VA Aid and Attendance can offer about $2,000 per month for those who financially qualify. Connecticut has its own programs called the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE) which can provide significant funds to have an aide do housework, prepare meals, assist with personal hygiene and make sure the elder is safe. The highest version of CHCPE is Medicaid, which at the highest level, can pay
for a live-in caregiver. That is significant and allows many people who would otherwise need a nursing home, to remain in their own home or apartment. To be sure, Connecticut has some of the strictest eligibility rules in the country, but if the family gets the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney who knows how to satisfy those rules, it is often possible to get that live-in care at home.

Another bright side is that there are many very competent homecare agencies in Connecticut that have experienced and dedicated staff who can provide part time or full time care so that families can keep their loved ones at home. And if the care needs are so great that homecare is not realistic, there are assisted living, memory care, and full skilled care facilities. And that does not necessarily mean the healthy spouse will lose their assets, because in Connecticut, even with its very strict rules, the average couple will not lose their home and most of their other assets even
though the sick one goes on Medicaid. Let’s face it, staying home is preferable, but for many, assisted living can provide not only a certain level of support, but socialization. I still fondly remember years ago, when my super experienced elder care coordinator, Charlotte, said to me, “Your mother needs more socialization to thrive.” Staying at her apartment with aides coming and going was not enough. We moved her to an independent living facility, kept all her aides, paid for by the VA and Medicaid, and in three months she put on twelve pounds. One thought to keep in mind when hiring aides is that it is helpful to use a company that is Medicaid approved, even if you are paying with your own funds. That way, if Medicaid is ever needed, you won’t have to switch agencies or aides, because Medicaid won’t pay for a company that is not Medicaid approved. It will pay in some cases for family members who are giving care.

The gist of this article is that there are many solutions to the problems of keeping mom or dad safe without being in a skilled nursing facility. That could be in their long time home, an apartment, or an independent living facility. This is being written at the end of the old year, and hopefully gives you a bright side of what long term care is possible.
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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