Housing options under Medicaid when mom's dementia worsens

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    My mother may be 88 and starting to show signs of dementia but otherwise she is very strong and healthy. She is now in an assisted living place that specializes in dementia but we can only afford this kind of care for a year or so. Then what happens? Will she be eligible for Medicaid and what does that mean? Will we have to move her to a place that is not so nice?



    Medicaid is a federal program, administered individually by each state, that provides medical benefits for seniors and others with low-income and few assets. In every state, Medicaid pays the cost of care in a nursing facility for someone eligible for the program. There’s no Medicaid rule that requires a state Medicaid program to pay for assisted living, and most states don’t cover it. But a few states have realized that assisted living usually costs much less than a nursing home. So, the state Medicaid program saves money if some people live in assisted living instead of nursing homes.

    If your mother is eligible for Medicaid and she lives in a state where Medicaid covers assisted living, she might get coverage for the place where she’s now living. She will need to apply for Medicaid coverage through her local county human services, social services office, or online at Medicaid.gov. She’ll have to report her financial records, proving that she has a small income and few assets (usually around $2,000 or less).

    If she qualifies for Medicaid and her state covers assisted living, the next question is whether the place where she’s living is certified to receive Medicaid payments. If so, Medicaid may be able to pay for her to stay there. If not, you may have to find another nursing home for her.

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