Glad I started this post. Just for my sanity I know I'm going to need to keep a record of events. Glad to see some others are sharing their stories.
It's been a month. Mom is walking much better with a walker now. I can see a near future where she won't need it. That said, stairs are never going to be in her future again on a regular basis.
Memory lapses are becoming more evident to me all the time now. She's passed along stories to other people that conflict reality. One of her friends got into a huff with me when she told them I was restricting her medications. It wasn't true. Further, she's obsessing a bit over medications and thinking there's some magic pill that will heal her. Her doctor disagrees, but what does he know?
Reality is my mom is a happy dementia patient. Thankfully she hasn't gone off the emotional deep end. It might happen, but hasn't happened yet. I can't imagine what it's like to start losing your cognitive ability like this.
I've spent the past month learning about the possible levels of care and how they get paid for. It's a bit scary if you're in the middle. If your dirt poor or super rich the system works well for you. If you're in the middle its tougher. My mom has about $65,000 in the bank and a $2000 net income monthly. Most places don't accept Medicaid (health care for those that are broke), but the ones that do want you to "spend down" your income for at least two or three years before they will accept Medicaid payment for when you run out of money. For those that don't know about the particulars of Medicaid, I suggest you learn about it now if you think you might end up in a situation similar to mine. Medicaid operates as a federal program that's administered differently in different states. In Washington state you won't qualify for Medicaid if you make more that $2300 a month and you have more than $2000 in assets. You have to "spend down" your money paying for care before you can qualify. If you try to hide your money they will find out. In our state they do a seven year background financial check to see what you did with your money. If you gave it to your kids they're going to know and want the family to pay for care. I believe there are ways around this, but I haven't learned about them yet. I'm not looking to scam the system. I just want the money my mom has to go towards her care and not end up bankrupting me in the long run.
There are three basic levels of care
Independent living - still a fully functioning adult and can care for themselves.
Assisted living - needs help with meals, transportation, and possible other hygiene needs like bathing. (this is where my mom is currently at).
Memory care - brain is going. A danger to themselves if left to "wander".
I've been on the phone with nearly every facility in my area this past month learning about getting admitted and how they operate. They don't have to accept patients that they don't want. If you can't prove that you can pay full freight for at least two years no facility is going to admit you. The cost will depend on how well you can care for yourself. In my area these range from about $4,000 to $10,000. At $4000 a month that's $96,000 for two years. My mom will have a total of about $110,000 over this time. I'm hoping I can contract with a place that will let her turn to Medicaid when her assets are toast. The reality looks like she can afford about $4500 a month for two years, then will be broke. At that point a facility would get her whole check each month and Medicaid would "kick in" a contracted amount to make up the difference. These facilities can't kick someone out at that point. This is why they are careful about who they accept.
For the moment, she's insisting that she can continue to rent a room from a friend and doesn't want to move into a facility of any kind. I'm good with that for now, but I think sooner than later she's off to the home. She can't comprehend the idea that we will need to do this before it's too late and she won't be able to afford it.
Legal stuff: We went to a bank and had a notary stamp some papers for us. Health Power Of Attorney (POA) and a financial POA. My mom was good with signing over her financial control to me to manage her accounts. I can now pay her bills and move her money around if needed. The dude at the bank was pretty suspicious of us doing this, and I'm glad he was. I can see how kids can manipulate their parents into signing over all their money. He took a good 10 minutes to talk to my mom with me out of the room to make sure she understood what she was doing.
What next? I'm looking into "guardianship" papers. I fear that I will have to force her into a place and it will go poorly. That said, she trusts me and knows I want what's best for her. I need to make an appointment with an elder care attorney. Hoping that won't cost too much. I think I can manage that cost, but will feel weird if I have to pay for it. I have access to my mom's money to pay for it, but I think I will need to save that for her down the road. I've got a place I'm focusing on close to my house (and my daughters place too). That way we can still see her often. Right now she's about an hour away. I feel like I'm spending way too much time in my car driving to see her each week a couple of times.
Will update. If someone is reading this and has some advice I'm all ears (eyes?). Really I'm just journaling in some form to keep a record of what's going on.