Finally spring is around the corner; the sun is brighter and the days are getting longer.Â Children’s spring school projects now underway. This morning you received a phone call fromÂ a friend whose mother had a stroke about a month ago asking for your thoughts. Life today isÂ active, especially for women aged 45 — 55 who care for both their parents and children. TheseÂ are the people caught in the “sandwich generation”.
Her mom, let’s call her Helen, was young for this stroke that left her partially paralyzed on theÂ right side. She is only 58 and has been in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for therapy followingÂ her hospital stay. Now, she is being given notice that she must either pay privately to stay thereÂ or find another place to live.
Helen is not able to care for herself yet, and this is the hope. So, she is told she can haveÂ outpatient therapy to assist her gain control and strength back. Yet, her insurance has deemedÂ that she has reached full potential and will no longer pay for a SNF. Helen cannot move backÂ home; she will need help. She cannot afford to pay $7,000 a month for the SNF. Helen has aÂ daughter in the Chicago area and family in Peoria. What are her options?
Her age of 58 works against her. Locally, she must be age 65 to get into a supportive livingÂ facility (SLF). These are like assisted living facilities (ALF) and much like an apartment withÂ limited assistance for one’s needs. Unlike ALF, SLF will allow a person to stay even after theyÂ have spent through their assets. She could probably qualify for SLF, but in Central Illinois theyÂ are licensed for people 65 and over. Therefore, she could not get into a SLF.
The Chicago has at least one SLF that is licensed to accept people under age 65. This is herÂ second option. Her daughter in the Chicago area would be more involved to make this work.
The third option is home health care. Helen does not have the funds to pay about $20 an hour forÂ services every day; nor does she have long term care insurance to help with these expenses. ThisÂ option s is not practical.
A fourth option would be staying with family and going to outpatient physical therapy. Due toÂ the design of her adult children’s homes, this is not an option.Â The purpose of this month’s column is to discuss a need here in Central Illinois. Helen’s caseÂ is not unique and there are more people suffering from dementia and other conditions that couldÂ benefit from a SLF for people under age 65. . Supportive living could cut the state’s MedicaidÂ costs by allowing people like Helen in living in supportive living. When a person is under ageÂ 65, the most often used alternative in Central Illinois is a nursing home which has a greater cost.
In addition, a SNF provides for a better quality of life in most cases. This author would suggestÂ Illinois issues a certificate of need for a SLF for Central Illinois and let a private company buildÂ and run this facility.
Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do toÂ manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mentalÂ and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationerÂ should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while beingÂ careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking,Â making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis.