Questions Answered on Reverse Mortgages

August 26, 2013

Filed under: Financial — Alexis @ 11:48 AM

The National Council on Aging, a leading nonprofit, has a good page on their website with important questions about reverse mortgages. These questions include “What’s the difference between a reverse mortgage and a regular home equity loan?” and “Aren’t reverse mortgages just scams that give money to big banks?” (no).

They also have written the official reverse mortgage guide for the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, called “Use Your Home to Stay at Home.”

Check out both if you are thinking about a reverse mortgage.

Laughter & Music Can Be Better than Drugs for Dementia Patients

August 19, 2013

Filed under: Alzheimer's — Alexis @ 11:46 AM

There is a lot of movement right now in the US and around the world to move away from drug-dependency for keeping elder dementia in check. Well, here is a three-year study from Australia, with excellent news. Taken from the Sydney Morning Herald article:

“[The] nursing home participated in a three-year study that found weekly visits by clowns, plus the training of staff members to provide humour therapy, significantly reduced agitation among 180 residents in 17 nursing homes compared with a control group. The effect was similar to that of the average dose of risperidone, a drug used to reduce aggression and agitation among dementia patients, the Sydney Multisite Intervention of LaughterBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) study found. It also avoided common side effects like stroke.”

Read the entire article here.

Caregivers are Depressed

August 12, 2013

Filed under: Caregiver Issues — Alexis @ 11:46 AM

Interesting concept in this article – one of those things that you don’t think of on your own, but when someone else verbalizes it, you say, “of course.” The idea is that caregiver stress is in part driven by a tension in the caregiver’s own psyche between giving up who she has been, while at the same time both embracing and rejecting the role of caregiver. It’s a lot for one heart to handle. Read the New America Media article here.

Testifying at the State House

August 5, 2013

Filed under: MassHealth,Medicaid (MassHealth),Uncategorized — Alexis @ 3:30 PM

Last week, I headed to the State House to once again testify on bills that could plug some holes in the MassHealth nursing home payment system and make things a bit easier for families caring for frail elders.

The shorthand for this bill is the “transfer of assets” bill. It comes down to this: As you probably know, should you need nursing home some day, and if you need MassHealth to pay for it, MassHealth understandably looks through five years of bank statements to see if you’ve given any large sums away in the last five years. After all, it would not be fair if we could just give our money away and then ask our fellow taxpayers to foot our nursing home bills.

But the problem lies in abiding by this principle too strictly. The MassHealth regulations (based on federal law) actually state that you cannot transfer assets within the last five years with the intent of qualifying for MassHealth. The MassHealth regulations indicate that applications should be approved where the assets “were transferred exclusively for a purpose other than to qualify for MassHealth.” The problem is, MassHealth is not following its own regulations.

Quite frequently, nursing home placement is the result of a sudden decline, or an unexpected illness. It is fairly common for a healthy, active elder to do what she has always done – birthday gifts to family, donations to her church, help out a child divorcing or at risk of foreclosure – and a few years later be faced with a sudden turn of events and need to move to the nursing home. These elders should not be punished for not only not knowing about the five-year “look-back” rule, but worse – for being healthy and loving their families.

What happens to you if you are one of these unlucky people? Let’s say you were in good health, your child’s home was in foreclosure, you paid off her debt, and then let’s say four years later, out of the blue, your health fails and you need nursing home care. Well, you might pay down most of your remaining assets to the nursing home, and once you run out of money, you apply for MassHealth assistance. If you run out of money before you get to the five-year mark from making that gift, things are going to be difficult.

Imagine this: You are in the nursing home, you have spent all your savings, and you have no choice but to ask for MassHealth to pay your nursing home bill. It is only at this point – when you have no more money – that they impose the disqualification period that resulted from the gift. Let’s say you gave your kid $33,000 – that amounts to four months of disqualification. So you are in the nursing home, you have no money, and MassHealth won’t start paying for another four months. The nursing home isn’t paid to care for you, so now what? Is it fair that the nursing home should provide 24/7 room, board, and medical attention without being paid? They can’t operate that way. They try to evict you for nonpayment. And then things get ugly. You might bounce from hospital to hospital, or you might end up in your last choice of nursing homes. Not pretty.

The “transfer of assets bill” would make it clear to MassHealth caseworkers (the folks that review and then approve or deny your nursing home application) that transfers in the last five years shall not result in denials if the transfers were made for certain various reasons. These are reasons that you might categorize under “living my life” or “taking care of my family,” such as a pattern of small gifts (monthly donations to church or annual birthday checks); helping a relative in financial crisis, foreclosure, or with medical care; or, whatever the reason for the transfer, at the time of the transfer, there was no reason to think you would need MassHealth in the next five years.

The “transfer of assets” bill is actually two identical bills – one filed in the House by Representative John Fernandes (H1021) and one filed in the Senate by Senator Katherine Clark (S503). Please call your state representative and senator and ask them to support these bills. To find your rep and senator and their contact information, click here. And thank you.

Art is for Everyone at the YMCA

August 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexis @ 4:24 PM

It’s back! This year’s free arts event is being held at the South Shore YMCA in Hanover. It’s a unique partership between the Y, the Cardinal Cushing Centers, and the Friendship Home.

Thursday evening, August 15th from 4-8 pm. BBQ, interactive art stations, and then a live auction for art created that very evening right before your eyes.

The schedule of events is as follows:

4-6pm – Family fun festival activities; make a bracelet, tye dye bandanas, paint a bird house, get your face painted or grab a hot dog dinner (small cost for each).
There will be live performances at 4:45pm (Friendship Home) and 5:45pm (YMCA – Charlie Brown scene).
Live Professional artists on site painting – their completed works will be auctioned off that evening.
For the adults – Paintfest sessions – create a painting on the spot in 20 minutes – materials and instruction provided – no talent needed. $10 to participate and you get to take home your painting. We will have two sessions – 4:15pm and 5:15pm for ten people each session.

Shop for artwork created by participants from each organization – open from 5pm to 8pm.

6-8pm is a cocktail reception for adults; a Celebrity Paintfest; and a Live auction.

For more info, click here.

See you there!