F. Tenney Lantz is an attorney and a Certified Veterans Specialist for Lantz Law Inc., in North Dartmouth, MA, specializing in Estate Planning and Medicaid. She has helped many families with protecting their wealth from nursing homes and preserving it for future generations. The work she does comes from a personal place, this is her own story of caring for her aging mother while navigating the Medicaid system.
My Dad died on Christmas morning, 1985.
After that time, my mother’s mental health declined quickly. Although we knew that her memory was fading, my Dad had always been there to keep things on track. Soon after his death, though, Mom was unable to live alone in the family house in Mattapoisett. We moved her into a cooperative living facility in Fairhaven, rented the house in Mattapoisett, and she seemed fairly happy there for a short time. But before too long, the home manager let us know that Florence was not remembering to take her medication regularly or correctly, and they could no longer be responsible for her.
There then ensued a very difficult period during which my brother (who lived in North Carolina) and I struggled with options for Mom’s care. We concluded that nursing homes in Massachusetts were way too expensive in comparison to other areas of the country, and if we moved Mom to a home in North Carolina, my brother and his family could visit Mom regularly. I was working full time, with teenage children at home, so the time I could give to helping Mom was very limited.
It was so difficult to move Mom 900 miles south, away from where she had lived all her life, and away from me. It was simply a financial necessity. During the drive to North Carolina, she asked me and my daughter constantly, “Where we are going?” And she never remembered each time we explained, as gently as possible, that we were on our way to a new home for her.
Within a week after moving Mom to Mooresville, North Carolina, she suffered a stroke. I will never forgive myself for that move because—although the doctors told me repeatedly that the stroke was not related to moving—I blamed myself for being unable to take care of her at home myself and placing stress on her with a totally new environment.
Then began the terrible process called “Medicaid application” and “spend down”. I was totally unfamiliar with Medicaid at the time, and so we didn’t know any better than to drain all of Mom’s financial accounts – and eventually sell the house and use those funds toward the nursing home.
After seven years in the nursing home, Mom suffered another stroke and died at the age of 90. Her money, all her resources, and her self-respect were gone. She died a pauper, thanks to the Medicaid system.
Don’t let the horror of this story happen in your family.
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