My mother is 90, and she is almost out of her life savings. We knew that, in Michigan at least, there is a safety net when one gets below $2000 in their bank account they are allowed to apply for Medicaid. This will subsidize the cost of her living in the nursing home (a.k.a. Medical Care Facility) from now on out, using her social security checks and giving her $60 a month for extraneous expenses.
In order to apply, my sister and I had to use up the last couple thousand dollars of her savings before mid-September and get the application in at the first of October. The money may only be spent on my Mother’s needs. We had to confer on what she may need in the future that we could buy ahead of time. We’ve already set up a trust for her funeral expenses. The nursing home provides most of her day to day supplies, and she does not have that many desires or even space for “stuff.”
We measured her small corner of a room and went out to purchase a new chest of drawers and free-standing bookshelf to hold her photos and little nick nacks from years of travel and experiences. Extra clothing for when she wears out what she has can fit into the drawers. She is wheelchair-bound so the soles of her shoes do not wear out, but the shoes are beginning to look pretty ratty so we found a new pair that may carry her for several more years if necessary. It apparently is against the rules to donate the last bit to a charity she cares about. It must be spent only directly on my mother.
It feels odd to spend her money freely. It would be used up immediately with one more month of nursing home fees, with not enough left to pay for that month. So, now we are looking for whatever else we could buy for her to spend it down. I bought magazine subscriptions and extended her local newspapers. My sister handles the finances and keeps asking me if we could buy her this or that. At this point, I’m just going to say, “Spend away.” It is such a strange situation to have to spend the rest of her money, whether she needs things or not. I am really grateful that Medicaid will help her from now on out, because without it we’d be using up our own life savings.