The Philadelphia Daily News, May
Dear Harry: I am one of three children of an 89 year-old mother who is now in a nursing home. A number of years ago, we were convinced to get all of her money out of her name so she could qualify for Medicaid in case she had to go to a nursing home.
What a mistake!
At the time we did this, none of us lived near Philadelphia, and we had no idea of the quality of care at the various total-care and nursing-care facilities. My oldest brother ultimately took on the responsibility of finding a place for her. It looked OK to him, but it has fast gone downhill.
I just moved back to the area, and what I saw on the night of our move was unbelievable. It reminded me of the descriptions of similar institutions by Charles Dickens.
She was out of there the next day and into a far better facility recommended by friend who is a social worker. Mother cried for joy all that day. We made our original plans under the advice of someone who wanted to protect our "rights to an inheritance."
I can't believe that we fell for that talk. It was her money we took without regard for the fact that it could have made these last few years a lot more comfortable and pleasant for her.
Please urge your readers to get their aging parents into the best possible places for their last years, even if it means that the children have to forego their inheritances and even kick in some of their own money. There is a huge difference in the quality of the various nursing homes in this area.
What Harry says: You have said something that had to be said. Too many of us look to our "right to an inheritance" rather than to the parent's right to her (his) own money.
On the other hand, many parents scrimp on their own care and well-being in order to provide something for the next generation. It's important that such parents (they're mostly women, because they live longer and are more giving than men) be convinced by their children that the remainder of their lifetime savings is there to make the parents' old age more comfortable and pleasant.
Incidentally, long-term-care insurance can go a long way to make Medicaid unnecessary.
Write Harry Gross care of the Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101.
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