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The $8,000 "rent"

July 21st, 2015 at 06:06 pm

After paying 2 months worth of bills from assisted living in the neighborhood of $5300 each, I got the shock of my life when I got this month's bill for over $8,000.

They seemed to have caught up with the fact that I wasn't being charged their $400 a mth medication management fee, and so they socked it to me this month with $1200 worth of their stupid, outrageous fee. Keep in mind my mother takes ONE medication, which they hand to her twice a day. For this I will pay $400 a month.

I had noticed I wasn't getting billed for this in the 1st month but chose not to say anything.

Oh well. So instead of the bonanza $5300 a month cost, it's really $5750. That's $5300 for "rent," $400 for med management and $50 for the phone, plus any miscellaneous activity fees.

Do you know how much stress bills like this are causing me? A great deal. My sister is wholly uninvolved. They only give you 2 weeks to pay the bill, so I have to always make sure I've made a transfer from her brokerage account to her checking account a week ahead of time to ensure the money's in the account.

After talking with 2 good male friends, I've come to a decision, one that won't be easy to implement but which is essential to my own well-being.

Instead of driving myself nuts over every dollar spent, for my own sanity I'm trying to reach a state of acceptance, and what will be, will be. No doubt in a few years' time the state will take over my mother's care. I just don't know what kind of mental shape my mother will be in at that time; right now, she would be extraordinarily upset and very likely view me as having utterly betrayed her by putting her into a nursing home. (Never mind she put her mother in a nursing home years back.)

Aside from her mental difficulties, my mother does not appear to need to be in that kind of setting. For 81, she's in very good shape, walks well and dresses quite well and is most of the time a peach to deal with, at least for short visits. At the same time, I know there is no way I could live with her.

My friends have urged me to fully reimburse myself for out of pocket expenses for mom because if my mother's alive in a few more years, a nursing home is inevitable, so there's no need to spend my own money, is their reasoning. I understand it, but it IS hard when it's your mother and you'd like to shield her from the cold, institutional setting that most nursing homes are.

There are only 3 real ways to generate big money savings that would affect how long my mother could stay where she is instead of go to a nursing home. Unfortunately, I had to rule out one of them today.

1. VA Benefits: I was able to dig thru legal papers of my mother's 3 divorces and determine that she was married less than 10 years to husbands #2 and 3. My dad, husband #1, said he believed they were married for 12 years, which would make my mother eligible for substantial VA benefits if she were still married to him. The divorce makes her ineligible.

2. A roommate: I could save $750 a month in the rent if my mother shared a "lifestyle suite" with another resident. The 2 obviously would need to get along. My mother hasn't really connected with anyone there, but lately she has been on this thing where she keeps saying she wants a small fridge. Never mind that they serve 3 meals a day in the dining hall. I wouldn't get it for her except that I might be able to use the lure of a fridge and small kitchenette (sink, fridge and cabinets, no stove) to get her to share some living space with someone. I don't know if she'd go for it; she really likes her privacy. But i believe with the suites they have their own bedrooms but share a bath if I'm not mistaken. I am trying to see a suite to see if i could picture my mother living there, and if so, to show it to my mother. This could be a long shot but it's one of the very few things that could really save some money.

3. The only other option would be for me to suspend my plans, decades in the making, to retire in 4 years, at age 60, and continue working solely to pay for the assisted living which currently costs $69,000 a year. I'm not sure what I net now making $81,200, but it's less than $69,000, and I need at least $25,000 a year to pay my own current expenses. And assisted living will raise their rates 5% or so next year, they told me, plus when she deteriorates due to the disease, they will start billing me more for her care as well. Still, working a year or two (i thinkt hat's all i could stand) beyond age 60 could inject sizable and much needed money infusions into my mother's account.

Doing something like this, against the advice of well-meaning friends, would require long, hard thought. I wouldn't be jeopardizing my own retirement, becus by that time I should be pretty close to my own savings goal and I don't intend to withdraw from savings, only divert current earnings toward her bills.

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on whether I should do something like that.


Here is a painting of a waterfall my mother did that is going on exhibit (and sale) at a local spa. Think restful and relaxing. Smile Actually, my mother, a longtime weaver AND painter, did many things like this called "woven paintings," where she was able to blend her two passions into one by first painting on canvas, then cutting the canvas into horizontal or vertical strips, then weaving them back together again on the loom. The result was a unique three-dimensional effect like you see here.

I've pretty much wrapped up dialogue with another yarn buyer. I'm excited that she's buying over $200 worth of my mother's yarn! It's all boxed and ready to go; I just will wait to get the check in the mail and ideally delay a day or two in shipping it to make sure the check doesn't bounce.

I have been selling the yarn piecemeal; most weavers I find are very interested in it and so I've done fairly well considering I've only had a few people buying.

On Thursday, my next work at home day on my lunch break I will be zipping over to local nursing home for a quick tour and then to do the paperwork to get on their wait list, which is over a year long.

Although mom still has money to pay for assisted living, it will be spent down fast, and when we get to about $30,000 left is when I will need to start seriously considering calls from the by then 2 or 3 nursing homes whose wait lists I'm on. They will contact you periodically when a bed opens up. You can take it or pass (you don't lose your place on the list), but since it's totally random when beds become available (when people die) you have to make sure you don't wait til all money is gone. Ideally, you go to the nursing with your $20,000 or $30,000 left, you pay a few months for the nursing home out of pocket and then when you get down to $1,600, Medicaid starts picking up the tab. Nursing homes, becus they have skilled nursing, are even MORE expensive than assisted living, which really boggled my mind when I learned that.

I just can't see my mother in a nursing home and shudder to think about it. But who knows with the Alzheimer's how she'll be like in 3 years?

This will be my first full week of Tuesdays/Thursdays at home. I realized with delight just now that with this new schedule I will only have to go into work for 1 day at a time, then I will work at home. At times in the past, the work week just drags on so long, but the work at home days will really change that, as I can get so much stuff done that usually is all bunched up to do on my weekends. I really hope this extra time in my life will make me more sane, less anxious.

10 Responses to “The $8,000 "rent"”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Are you sure the divorce makes her ineligible for VA benefits? Divorced spouses can collect on their spouse's Social Security. I know, I'm doing it! But you have to have been married for 10 years. Seems like the same rule might apply for VA benefits.

    I would have hated to put my mother in a nursing home, too. The suite doesn't sound too bad, if they have separate bedrooms, but two forgetful people sharing a bath might create friction.

    All you can do at this point is wait and see. If she's still doing pretty well in three years, you can choose at that time to continue to work to keep her where she is. Or you might find that her mental state makes it irrelevant where she is.

    ((Hugs!!)

  2. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    This will sound terrible but check out the va benefits she could be eligible. But in reality i would not plan four years out. A lot can happen one fall a broken hip and pneumonia could easily end the situation. I hate to writing that but its true.

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    Thank you both for your comments. CB, yes, I'm really pretty sure about the divorce making her ineligible because I read it several places online. Especially since she subsequently remarried. I suppose I should call to make sure but it makes sense to me that someone who is no longer married to a veteran should not get veteran benefits.

    Both of you pretty much hit the nail on the head. A lot can happen between now and then. I mean, she was there one month and in the middle of summer she landed in the hospital there becus the hospital said she had pneumonia and was on antibiotics for it and then when she returned to the assisted living place, the nurse there said no, there's no record here of her having had pneumonia, she had an upper respiratory infection.

    I don't really know what she had but it did surprise me that she'd get so sick and it wasn't even winter. This is what happens when you live in a group setting. People just pass on their germs; when she lived alone, she never got colds like that.

  4. CB in the City Says:

    Oh, you're right, a subsequent marriage would cancel the benefit.

  5. Rachael777 Says:

    I am just going to respond quickly here because I was going to share the same thing in a post on my blog. In short I would NOT suspend your retirement planning at all. Your life is your own and you need to take care of YOU first so you can take care of Mom. There are memory care places that are paid for by Medicare (as well as nursing homes) that are not bad.. I used to think any medicre facility was cut rate but apparently not the case. Also I will offer insights and #s with my own situation w Dad in my post.. also about the different living situations I researched and we tried... but one of the intersting things was he LIKES having a roommate. More info soon but take care of yourself first WITHOUT guilt.. no working 2-4 extra years.. your retirement dreams do not need and should not be suspended.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    I don't know the answers to most of your questions, but I just can't imagine what the odds are she would still be around and it would be worth worrying about any of this. I think you should let a lot of it go and cross a lot of these bridges when you come to them. It's kind of awkward to say this to people in this situation but I know you have already touched on this and are aware. Her Doctors can maybe give you a better idea of life expectancy based on her actual diagnosis and her individual situation. In my experience, I don't know if I have ever seen anyone live past 2 years in assisted living, with memory problems. They just deteriorate so quickly. Having backup plans is smart. I just wouldn't over-think them too much in the here and now. (Unless her Doctors tell you otherwise based on her specific situation).

    People with money do pay for their parents' care. I think this concept is foreign to those without the means. So, I would take other people's opinions with a grain of salt. Of course, I imagine maybe you'd have to work one more year and we are talking about prolonging comfort for your mom for maybe just some months. IF she was going to live in assisted living for a whole decade then this would be an entirely different conversation.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    ((Hugs)) I'm going to just chime in and say that I LOVE that artwork. She is a talented lady. I'd love to see how she actually did that. Smile

  8. PatientSaver Says:

    Monkey Mama, I have tried to do some online research about longevity with Alzheimers. The most recent study I found said that it depends on the age at which the person was diagnosed. The older they are when they're diagnosed, the shorter their lifespan. They gave a few examples. My best guess for my mother, who was 80 when she was diagnosed, and based on what this research paper said, is about 5 years. But i definitely know of any number who lived longer with the disease, like as many as 9 or 10 years. Alzheimers does shorten the life span but it really depends.

  9. PatientSaver Says:

    Thanks, Creditcardfree!

  10. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    PS - You definitely are in a difficult situation. There don't seem to be any easy answers. Like others have said though, probably the best thing to do is to not stress out about what may happen in the future. Deal with the now, and when the situation changes, then deal with that new situation.

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