Virginia Morris Answers Viewer Questions on Caring For Elderly


But remember that keeping active is really what's keeping him alive and keeping life meaningful for him. You can make suggestions and prod him and introduce him to a local roofing company, but in the end, he has every right to take these risks, as frustrating and worrisome that may be for you. Most people take risks of some sort, whether it's rock climbing or eating junk food or failing to wear a seatbelt. You may not like it, but he does have every right to do it. And honestly, maybe dying with your boots on isn't such a bad thing.

Linda from Sanford, Fla.: What do you do when your parents have made bad decisions and they have lost everything, their house, their car and now depend on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and you their child for help. I have my parents in an assisted living facility and have a sickly parent, a dad who has diabetes, and has suffered from a stroke, he is constantly in the hospital and rehab. My mom is suffering from Alzheimer's and I am left to be the caregiver and provider. They do have their own apartment in the assisted living, but with time and their decline in health, the cost will be more than I can handle where do I go for additional assistance?

Linda, everyone has to make their own very personal decisions regarding money and how much they are willing to shell out for their parents. But unless you are independently wealthy, there is nothing wrong in letting Medicare and Medicaid foot the bill here. These programs are set up for this, and there is no sense in you ending in dire straits because you spent your savings on your parents. Talk to an administrator at the assisted living facility and find out what happens if you stop paying the bills. If they are on Medicaid, will the facility accept that? If not, where would they have to go? Also, as they become even more frail, how will the facility move them to a nursing home? What homes accept Medicaid?

Visit them, love them, pour your affection on them, but do not go broke supporting them. If you need help sorting out their finances, talk with an elder law attorney. (You can find the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at

Theresa from Orlando, Fla.: My grandmother will be 103 in less than a month and it is time to find a nursing home for her. The care for her is becoming to much on my parents and there are no other options for someone to care for her. Where do we start to find out what type of financial assistance is available?? The cost of the nursing home is more than any of us can afford and we feel helpless. In home care would also work but that seems even more expensive than the nursing homes. Any advice would be appreciated!

Most people enter a nursing home and pay whatever they can until they are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid then picks up the bill. A few states have programs that allow people to stay in their own homes while on Medicaid. I would suggest that you let her "spend down" and don't drain your own savings.

Contact the area agency on aging (through and ask them to put you in touch with the local SHIP program – that's the state Health Insurance Assistance Program. The agency on aging can also put you in touch with the local long-term care ombudsman, who should be able to give you some guidance on local nursing homes and some of these financial issues. If you have a nursing home in mind, go talk to an administrator about your grandmother's situation.

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