Financially I can't care for Mom. So what happens if I refuse to accept her from nursing home discharge?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My 90-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, entered a rehab/nursing home facility after hip surgery due to a fall. They have attempted rehab, but I am afraid she will never be able to walk on her own again. She’s eating just enough to stay alive (mostly with nutrition drinks they give her).

Her 100 days of Medicare is up and they say she must leave. They claim not to have permanent bed space in the nursing home. Prior to the fall my mother lived with me as she has no savings (only social security) and I have no money to pay for assisted living or other residential care. I am renting and my hours have been cut at work. I had someone come in to 'watch' my mother several hours a week and that was not enough. I need to work and can't afford round-the-clock nursing care for my mother. She has not recovered well (she no longer walks) and her dementia is worse.

My question is this: what happens if I refuse to take her out of this facility? I am unable to care for her and I am in a panic trying to find an assisted living or nursing home facility. I was hoping that she could remain where she is since it is also a nursing home. Any advice would be appreciated.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

There are several places where you can turn for help in resolving the difficult dilemma of finding a place that can provide the care your mother needs. But the search may require some time, effort, and patience.

It sounds like your mother may qualify for Medicaid. You can find out more about her eligibility and apply for coverage at Medicaid.gov. Each state provides Medicaid coverage for the full cost of living in a nursing home for those who qualify for the program. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while some states provide Medicaid coverage for assisted living, others do not.

One quick way to compare assisted living or nursing homes in your area is by using Caring.com's local eldercare directory, which you can find here. It includes contact information and a description of capacity, whether a facility is nonprofit, and displays Medicare's five-star rating.

There should also be a discharge planner or resident and family advisor at the current facility who may be able to offer advice about affordable nursing homes, assisted living, adult day care or other local resources. If you don't find the information you need through them, contact your local nursing home ombudsman, which you can find through the national group at www.ltcombudsman.org.

Finally, call the local Area Agency on Aging, which you can again find through the national group website at www.n4a.org.Representatives there should be able to refer you to available resources for temporary and permanent care and housing for your mother.