My siblings and I have found an agreed-upon assisted living center for our 85-year old mother with mild dementia. She owns her modest home outright. She receives Social Security, which will cover about half the assisted living costs. We have started the application process for VA benefits for surviving spouses living in an assisted living center. She has one outstanding personal loan of $5,000; otherwise she has ongoing normal bills such as utilities, etc. We’ve considered a home equity loan, selling her home, or renting her home for the necessary income. We need advice on what the best route we need to pursue.
Brian H. of North Carolina (Question edited by TCV Ed.)
Brian, thank you for writing Ask The Caregiver’s Voice. How wonderful when a family works together to ensure the best (and affordable) care for a loved one.
Let’s explore your options individually.
USING MOM’s HOME
On the surface a home equity loan looks like a better option when weighed against selling your Mom’s home for near-bottom dollar in this deflated economy. However, what will you do with the home once your mom moves into an assisted living community?
Renting it is certainly an option and the rental income can help with the expenses of assisted living that her Social Security doesn’t cover. However, is your family ready to add the stress of renting your mom’s home to your lives as you make certain the rent is paid on time and that the home is kept in good condition? Hiring a good rental manager will offset some of these responsibilities.
Consider meeting with a reputable elder-law attorney who will advise you on the above options and unique consequences for your family’s situation. An initial consultation is usually free and any hourly fee afterward will likely be exceeded by the benefits you gain from a certified elder-law attorney. See the end of this article for a helpful link.
If your Mom qualifies, it will take some time for her to receive benefits from the VA. The good news is the benefits will start from the time you begin the paperwork.
You may be surprised to learn that the admissions representative at the assisted living community may prove invaluable in exploring the above and other options, especially since the community has vested interest in your mom’s placement there.
Remember, not only will you need enough to cover the other half of the currently estimated care costs, but extra to ensure additional needs are taken care of; especially, as her dementia progresses and she requires additional care (at increased cost).
For more information click on the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Website. Click on “About” at the top of the home page and then “For more information” along the left links on the “About” page, then “Find an Elder Lawyer” along the left side of the “Information” page that opens.
Your local Alzheimer’s Association’s hotline can direct you to local agencies that may provide additional options for people with dementia. The following two offices serve North Carolina.
Click on the link for the office nearest you or call toll-free 24/7: 1.800.272.3900.
Western Carolina Chapter – Charlotte, NC
Foothills Area Office – Hickory, NC; Mountain Regional Office – Asheville, NC; Triad Area Office – Greensboro, NC
Eastern North Carolina Service Area – Raleigh, NC
Another address for this location…www.alznc.org/
Again, thank you for writing, Brian. After you’ve decided what you will do, will you please take a moment to post a comment in order to help your fellow The Caregiver’s Voice readers?
Brenda Avadian, MA