Where do I start caring for my aunt?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Anita clark asked...

I have an elderly aunt that has no children, spouse or income. She needs my assistance and I do not know where to begin to help her. She is 87 years of age, had a terrible fall and broke her arm. She has a bag and needs assistance, cannot live in her home but cannot afford to live in a retirement facility. Can you please guide me through the process as to what and how we can help her live her last remaining years knowing that she has no one or financial resource?

Expert Answers

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

In a situation like this, the only option for your aunt may be a nursing home. However, in order to pay for one she'll need to apply for Medicaid.

Medicaid is a government entitlement program for low-income individuals with few (if any) assets. Based on what you've shared, she should have no trouble qualifying.

Depending on which state your aunt lives in she may be able to apply for what is known as "Community Medicaid" as opposed to "Nursing Home Medicaid". Community Medicaid would enable her to stay in her home and have home care services come to her rather than move permanently to a nursing home. However, not all states offer a community option and even when they do, there are restrictions on the amount of home care that each person receives.

To begin the process, contact the closest Social Security office and inquire about a Medicaid application for your aunt. You can locate Social Security offices by zip code by clicking on the following link: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp.

Next, help her to gather all of her important documents. In general, she'll need her birth certificate, social security card, documents that prove where she lives (i.e. a utility bill or lease), what she owns (i.e. bank statements, car titles), and what income she receives (Social Security letter detailing monthly benefit amount).

Lastly, it would be wise to ask the Social Security office if they can refer you to a community program that assists with the Medicaid application should you have any questions while completing it.

Community Answers

Mnsotan answered...

First, contact your local Agency on Aging. Then get the information about her finances and apply for Medicaid to see if she qualifies. Some communities have housing with limited services that is covered at least in part by Medicaid (my grandmother did this, she only had to pay a 1/4 of her income which was very little). Your local agency on aging can see if there are any programs that she qualifies for such as in home help, medications, tranportation, etc. You said she cannot live in her own home but maybe an apartment for low income seniors would work. She could get meals on wheels daily and if she qualifies, limited home care assistance. With your help she may not need to be in a nursing home at this time. Good Luck, let us know how it turns out for her. And bless you for caring about her.