Should I put my mother in a nursing home even if she doesn't qualify for Medicare?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Katosboss asked...

I (daughter/caregiver) need advice from someone not close to the situation. Scenario: In 2002, mother had aortic valve replacement. She is now 91 y.o. and has COPD, hypertension and high anxiety broke left hip in 2009. After rehab and stay at board and care, moved into a two bedroom apartment me. Mother was able to take care of self while I was at work though called occasionally with questions which workplace didn't like. In 2010, broke right hip, went through brief rehab, came home, ended up too weak to stand or care for self so went into nursing home. When I got laid off, brought mom home and became full time caregiver. Because of less income, we decided to move to central California because of lower rents. We hate the area and want to go back to Orange County and back to high rents. However, during an urgent care visit, I have been made aware that replacement heart valve is not working well. We are in process of applying for an apartment in Orange County. Once we get back to OC, I plan on having her assessed by a cardiologist. However, because of the need for more income, I am afraid if I work outside the home and mom is alone, that she'll be unsafe. She should really be in a nursing home but because she's ambulatory, she doesn't qualify for medicare/medi-cal paid care.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

So sorry about your situation, which sounds difficult. However, you are not alone. Many of the older people in California are going to have a hard time qualifying for Medi-cal now. This is due to our state budget experiencing cut-backs in many health and human service programs.

Since your mother doesn't qualify for Medi-cal at this point, here are some other options to think about:

1) Assisted living apartments: There are many senior housing units around that offer meals, laundry services, and housekeeping. If she needs medical care, you can hire nursing assistants to help her. 2) Board and care houses: Since she already lived in one of these, you should be familiar with how they work. They charge a monthly fee for rent and medical care. They usually will provide everything for her including medication administration. 3) Nursing home: If she doesn't qualify for Medical, you can pay for a nursing home yourself, but this is quite expensive. 4) PACE/ On-lok programs: This model lets elders live at home, but it helps to provide them with medical care and some basic nursing care needs. 5) Home care: You can keep her at home with you, but hire a companion to be with her for a few hours a day. They can help give her lunch and some personal care, as well as medications.

You can also contact the Department of Health in Orange County, and ask them for assistance and ideas on how to take care of your mother. Perhaps they have some kind of program in that county that can help you. Good luck!