How many times over the course of a year do you write out a check, pay off a charge card balance, or make a bank withdrawal for literally thousands of dollars? Probably not all that often. Maybe if you’ve bought a new car, paid off a mortgage, or charged a houseful of furniture.
Me? I do it all the time. No, I’m not rich. I’m just the financial manager of my elderly mom’s living expenses, the biggest of which is her home care. Because my mom has dementia and is confined to a wheelchair, she must have someone with her in her home at all times. For roughly 22 hours a week, that someone is me, free of charge. (Happy to do it.) For the remainder of the week (146 hours), that someone is a paid caregiver from a nationally known senior care agency.
Why do I mention this? Because it is a key consideration as you contemplate the care of your elderly loved one. Who’s going to do it? WHO is going to do it? And perhaps more importantly, who is going to pay for it?
One of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “Does insurance pay for it?” The short answer is “no.” The confusion often comes from the fact that insurance WILL pay for a limited amount of home HEALTH care for a senior, prescribed by a doctor and provided by a medical professional like a nurse or therapist. Examples might be changing a dressing or providing a shower and grooming a couple of times a week. Insurance does NOT cover general senior home care. That is left to caring family members and friends.
The first time I had to write a check for literally thousands of dollars for senior home care was quite the experience. I felt like I was having heart palpitations. My hand was sweaty as I gripped the pen. My handwriting was shaky and cramped as I struggled to write out the full numeric description and fit all those zeroes on one line. OK, maybe I exaggerate some. But not much! After almost four years I’ve gotten a little more proficient at writing the checks. But it still gives me pause each time, especially as the costs continue to rise. After all, the money won’t last forever….
I see the ads on TV with cheery seniors receiving care at home from equally cheery caregivers, and it all seems so easy for the uninitiated. Until you have to write that first check.