Home Sale Stalled, But Mom Needs To Move
Q: My mother has suffered a stroke and needs to move to an assisted living facilty. She is having problems qualifying for Medicaid. Her only asset is her small apartment that we are trying to sell, but it could take months in this market. Most of the nursing facilities require $3,000 and more per month. Is there anything I can do to help her qualify sooner?
A: Because of the collapse in the real estate market, experts say that thousands of seniors who need assisted living or nursing home care are remaining in their homes longer because they can’t sell or get the price they need to cover their long term care. According to Harris Meyer, in an article for Kaiser Health News, the situation is leaving families under pressure to either pay for their parents’ placement with their own money, or to provide care themselves.
The situation is affecting lower-income seniors with modest resources because states require single seniors to exhaust nearly all of their assets, including their home equity, to qualify for Medicaid. Meyer reports that “Federal Medicaid rules allow states to exempt the home from consideration of financial eligiblilty if the family is making a good faith effort to sell, but not all states do.” Depending on where they live, seniors may not qualify for Medicaid if they can’t sell their home.
What can you do?
- Survey the assisted living and long term care options available in your area. You can start your search by phone or online using the Eldercare Locator 1-800-677-1116. The Eldercare Locator is a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging and connects people with services in your community.
- Talk with people at your local Area Agency on Aging or local senior services organizations. Find out about the senior housing options in your area, what they cost , and whether there are any charitable senior living programs that can help people like your mother until her home sells.
- Talk to prospective assisted living or long term care facility management about your real estate problems. Occupancy rates at assisted living facilities have fallen, coinciding with the collapse in real estate. Find out if the facility offers special terms or agreements for people who are waiting for their homes to sell, and if so, what those terms might be.
- Put your mother’s apartment on the market and work to sell it. This means giving it a thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint if needed, and minor repairs.
- Apply for Medicaid coverage while you wait. Check with a counselor at your local area Agency on Aging or local Medicaid department. Medicaid can take several months to start.
Sources: “Housing Bust Derails Some Seniors’ Assisted-Living Care,” Harris Myer, Kaiser Health News, August 21, 2011.