Thursday, May 26, 2016

One Woman's Voice: Mom's Mental Illness is So, So Sad!

If your aging parent or loved one suffers from mental illness, you suffer, too.  Listen to Kathy's story:

"My mother is 90.  Twenty-three years ago she moved from Washington to Arizona.  About the same time, she began exhibiting extreme paranoid behavior. Looking back, though, her illness may have started in her 40s."

Kathy and her family have attempted to reach out to her mother in many ways:  through contacting neighbors, sending cards and pictures of children and grandchildren and even visits, or attempted visits.

"I visited four times.  Each time she yelled through the screen door, 'Leave me alone!  You're only here to give me those medications.  And I don't want them.'"

The neighbors say they see her drive, and get in and out of the car, without talking to anyone.  When twin granddaughters were born, she did fly to the Seattle area to see them, but stayed only one day and avoided the rest of the family.

"I have nightmares about her dying alone and not having anyone know," Kathy said, adding, "I feel powerless, with no copy of a power of attorney or will."

I'm not a trained counselor or therapist.  I am the daughter of a woman who was diagnosed with mental illness in midlife and who suffered profoundly. 

I can understand Kathy's pain.  I feel so sorry for her family!  She has done so much to try to reach out to her mother.  My suggestions were for her to contact Arizona Adult Protective Services so they could check on her mother for possible self-abuse.  And also to contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for information on support groups and classes.  Sharing with others often eases the pain.

Kathy also allowed me to share her story with you, in the hopes that you might have some ideas for her situation. 

Do you have experience with mental illness in an older adult (parent or other)?  Could you offer Kathy encouragement or any steps she might take to help herself, her family and her mother?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Medicaid Q-A: Can Mom keep her benefits if she moves here from another state?

This is a tough one.  I have a client who wants to move her 90-year-old mother from New York to Washington State.  She's in a nursing home there.  If Mom moves, can she transfer her benefits?

The answer:  It's possible, but not easy.  Medicaid programs are funded through a combination of federal and state funds, and each state has its own program, setting rules regarding eligibility and the application process.

In order for Mom to receive benefits in her new state, she must disenroll in the state where she has lived.  That means someone on her behalf connects with DSHS to tell them about the move so her benefits will be stopped. 

For Mom to receive Medicaid in her new state, Washington, she must establish residency.  She can submit her Medicaid application on day one, when she moves in. (That assumes someone has completed it on her behalf.) The application process isn't immediate.  According to DSHS, applications are taking about two months to process.  The approval includes establishing financial and medical need.

What happens during that waiting period?  Sometimes an adult child can afford to pay privately for care--usually in an adult family home, until benefits are approved.  Another possibility is to bring Mom into the family home temporarily until Medicaid funding is sure.

During that interim time, her medical benefits will be limited until Medicaid kicks in.

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