Flip the Script: Nursing Home Money (#3 of 5, for now)

Posted by Dr. El - March 28, 2011 - Anecdotes, Money Issues - 8 Comments

“It’s not right,” Carlos complained.  “That son of mine isn’t telling me what’s going on with my money.”

“You’re worried about your finances?” Carlos had been anxious and irritable for most of the three months since his admission to the nursing home.

“Yes!”  He pounded one fist into another.  “I know how to take care of my bills!  I’ve been doing it all my life!  Who is he to take over?”

I’d heard similar concerns many times over the years.  “It’s hard when the kids start acting like the parents,” I empathized, “but there really aren’t bills to worry about now.”

“How can there be no bills?  Who’s paying for me to be here?” he asked angrily.

“Well, Medicare and private insurance when you first got here, but now that you’re long-term, your stay will be covered by Medicare and Medicaid.”

“But what about my rent?  And my doctor’s bills?”  His tone softened only slightly.

“All that’s covered, ” I explained gently.  “You’re basically living in a money-free world now.”

He looked puzzled.

“Your food, medication, doctor’s bills — that’s all paid for,” I told him.  “You don’t have to worry about it.  You’ll get $50/month here in New York for things like your telephone, clothes, take-out, or a special trip.  Otherwise you can pretty much live without money.”

“Humph!” Carlos replied, staring out the window for a moment before turning back to me.  “Well, I want to see my phone bills.  My son better bring those to me!”