Tuesday, December 1, 2015

We Need Help

Kim holds down two full-time jobs: guidance counselor and caregiver. It would be nice to have somebody come in and take care of me one or two mornings a week, to lighten her load. But these people are expensive. I’d heard of programs that provide financial support for home care, but I needed help navigating that landscape. I decided to consult an expert.

Kim and I made an appointment with an attorney who specializes in elder law and people with special circumstances like mine. Susan understands all the ins and outs of obtaining services. She has experience helping clients restructure assets and income in such a way – a legal way – as to maximize potential benefits. One of first questions I asked Susan concerned ethics. I wanted to know how I could justify jumping through hoops to “beat the system?”

Susan asked if I had ever employed strategies to lower my income tax burden.
“Of course I have,” I answered.

This is no different than that. Also, the legislative bodies and government agencies that create and administer these laws understand people are taking steps to maximize their benefits and minimize exposure of their income and assets. We’re not exploiting loopholes. We’re playing by the rules, in the open – no apologies necessary.

I can live with that, I think.

Kim and I went over our finances with Susan: savings, investments, life insurance, other liquid and nonliquid assets, income, debt, etc.

We identified our concerns. Short-term, we need help in the home. Additionally, we want to be in a position where if I need long-term care, it doesn’t deplete our assets any more than absolutely necessary.

Susan went over the options. So many options. Long story short, there is no scenario where we qualify for financial assistance toward in-home help. Therefore, there is no scenario where I have to wrestle with ethics. This finding didn’t render the consultation a waste of time and money. We needed to know. Now we do. If we want these in-home services, we’re going to have to pay for them ourselves. Fair enough. We’ll start with a few hours a week to see how it goes.

If I end up in long-term care someday, Susan outlined steps we can take to minimize the impact on our overall financial well-being. I may start taking some of those steps now, just in case.

The idea of someone from outside coming into our home feels odd. The thought of having a stranger attend to my personal needs makes me uncomfortable. But my mother did it for almost 40 years; I grew up with helpers in the house. Once we get used to it, we’ll probably wonder why we waited so long.

10 comments:

  1. Have you contacted your local MS Society? I know several people that have found help through them.

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    1. Mary Ellen, it's on my list now. Thank you.

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  2. Suggest you contact you local Department of Aging. Talk to a social worker. You will need to hire someone trained in caregiving for some tasks. They may have some ideas. Also, check with local colleges to post about hiring a student for other stuff. Do you have a spare bedroom to trade room and board for some household chores? Call the person your personal au pair!

    It's hard for ask for help, I know. You will be providing employment for someone and preserving your wonderful wife's strength and spirit! It will be a change but it could be good.

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    1. Sarabellum, how funny you should mention the spare bedroom idea. Not half an hour earlier, as we were visiting with friends down the street, he had the same idea. In fact we do have something that almost constitutes a private apartment, but it's currently occupied by my daughter, but she plans to vacate it when she gets married in August. So that idea could work!

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  3. Call your local Jewish Family Services. They have 4 levels of care from simple babysitting to full-on aide. They security check, make the aides pass a class, and then match you with a caregiver best suited to your personality and wants and needs. They are middlemen and you pay them an hourly fee and pay the aide directly. The minimum is 2 hours and the max you'll pay is $20/hour combined (maybe cheaper by you). Around here it is the least expensive service since they are a nonprofit. They are my go-to back-up.

    My aide is private and I pay her $20/hour cash for 2 hours a week, sometimes more. It took awhile to get used to having someone see me and help me do things I can't but I'm over it. And LOVE her. And she is great. She takes out the garbage, walks my dog who loves her too, irons, straightens up things I can't do myself, cleans closets and drawers, loves to cook and brings me food, etc etc.

    Go for what you can afford. It will be a godsend for you and Kim once you get into a routine and feel like you've made a friend.

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    1. Michelle, unfortunately our Jewish family services doesn't offer that. Sounds like a great deal though. It's nice to hear that you're having a positive experience.

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  4. I am low income and so qualify for DSHS in-home care. I have a County Case Manager who has set me up with one of the seven agencies in the county that takes COPES clients. The agency gets $24.??/hour (in 15 minute increments), and my CNA caregiver gets just $12.??/hour. She knows that some of the workers take jobs under the table, but that is, of course, cause for dismissal by the agency -- and my caregiver can't risk losing her job.

    Do your homework, Mitch, and find out how much these agencies are paying their workers, then place an ad on social media, like Craig's List and offer them a bit more on cash. It's a win-win.

    Webster (hsfr.blogspot.com)

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  5. This is all such good information and thinking. Thank you!

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    1. I think that reading Enjoying the Ride, and the brilliant comments, raises your IQ an average of 5 to 10 points :-)

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