Are you or someone you know giving daily care to a spouse or loved one with dementia, physical infirmities, or both? If so, sooner or later you will most likely experience some form of caregiver stress. “Hear me?” “Hear me?” “Hear me?” That repetition of words was annoying for you to read. And annoying for me to write. But if you have a spouse with dementia that follows you around all day and repeats everything over and over, the stress creeps up on you.
Over the last several decades, the lifespan of the average American has increased significantly. This is undoubtedly a good thing. However, the aging population has brought with it a whole host of new concerns, including the need for a wider array of elder care options. According to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, approximately 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will require long-term elder care at some point.
Last week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of a Connecticut wife, Amelia Lopes, whose husband is in a nursing home. This case was titled Lopes vs. Starkowski, who was the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services. Her assets had exceeded the then allowable limit by about $160,000. It is all the money she had to live on for the rest of her life.
I did not misspell Aunt. As everyone in Connecticut knows, many of us pronounce “aunt”, as “ant”. So here is an elder planning version of the grasshopper and the ant. As with Aesop’s Fables, it applies to many situations we humans face, and you are free to substitute your uncle, your father or mother, your grandfather or grandmother, or even yourself, in place of aunt.
Not a week goes by without people calling in a panic because they are suddenly faced with the need for a nursing home for a spouse who has had a sudden debilitating event such as a stroke or a terrible fall breaking a hip. They are naturally very worried about the future for the spouse, and are also very fearful that they will be left destitute.
The Veteran’s Administration has a special pension program that can pay for eligible wartime veterans and the spouses of deceased wartime veterans. Many of you may have heard of this benefit, called Aid and Attendance, and it can pay up to $24,239 per year for a married couple. In the past, the program requirements were such that needy applicants could qualify very quickly even though their starting assets might have been greater than the VA requirements.