One of the best things about having a blog is that it reaches so many different people all over the world. It is a great resource for information gathering. Today, I'm hopeful that some of you will be able to use your experience to help me.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that my mother-in-law was diagnosed the week of Christmas with pancreatic cancer. She has been going through chemo over the past 4 weeks. The chemo hasn't made her sick, her hair isn't falling out and a recent scan shows the cancer is not spreading. This is all great news. However, she is exhausted, confused and not at all the person we knew just a few weeks ago. She has been the primary care person for my father-in-law who has suffered balance and memory problems since a car accident 3 years ago. He too seems to have rapidly gone downhill over the past 2 months. They have insisted on staying in their home and my sister-in-law arranged to have someone come in the mornings and two hours in the evening. This isn't working.
I've been asked by my husband and sister-in-law to make calls tomorrow to find out options. The research I've done online, says that a nursing home costs about $5000 per person, per month. Assisted living with services might be a bit less, but not much. They are currently paying $18 per hour for the woman to come to the home. That would be around $3000 a week if they hired someone to stay around the clock. My in-laws are not wealthy, but they are also do have some assets such as their home.
I really have no idea where to start this process. I don't know what questions to ask to make sure we pick the best place to "put them". I have read that unless a person spends 3 full days in the hospital and then goes to a nursing home, they are responsible for paying the full amount. I don't know what resources might be out there that could help with expenses. I think most people would find it difficult to pay $10,000 a month for care. Eventually we could sell their home, but something has to be done right away. We don't live where they do and my sister-in-law can't be with them all the time.
This has all happened so quickly that they weren't prepared. The only thing I know about nursing homes is that the quality is very different. My mother's brief stay before her death was in a beautiful place, but we knew it was short-term, my dad is still mentally and physically competent to make decisions and their financial situation didn't limit my dad's choice of care. In the case of my in-laws, it may be long-term for at least one of them and they are neither one able to make decisions at this time. It is a mess to say the least and I don't even know what agencies to call to start asking questions.
So, for those who have been through this with a loved one...what questions should I ask? Who should I call? How did your family member afford this? Is a reverse mortgage a good idea? One thing I'm learning very quickly is that long-term care insurance is a "must have" for my us to protect our kids. We will be looking into that for ourselves over the next 10 years. If you have any information that might be a help to me before I start making calls tomorrow...I would love to hear it. I've decided over the past year that aging is a bit more frightening than I realized. Thanks in advance for any help you can suggest.