Somber news rang forth last week, as a woman was reported to have shot and killed her son because the son expressed his intention to relocate his mother to an assisted living facility.
Unfortunately, the angst of facing relocation to nursing home or other long-term care facility is particularly acute in our region. We love our independence here in northwest and west central Ohio, where there is little public transportation and where most of our neighbors do not live upstairs or downstairs from our residence.
I have counseled dozens of families as they have discussed the need for a loved one to move from a long-time home, often a lifetime home, to independent living, assisted living or a nursing home environment. Seldom is there excitement or even acceptance by the family member whose move is being contemplated.
Ohio and federal law does not require people to relocate to long-term care living environments. I have no magic words of wisdom in these contexts, but I do tell those who reluctantly face relocation that the decision is not one made by family. Rather, the circumstances of age, life experience and medical need are forced upon families who would sincerely rather keep mom and dad home literally forever.
People can usually identify the negative aspects of relocating to a long-term care living environment. Although seldom put into words, the challenges often include overwhelming fear of living with strangers in a strange environment with unfamiliar food and less freedom than the person has become accustomed.
Nonetheless, we attorneys are frequently hired to help compare, contrast and otherwise analyze all of the pros and the cons of such potential moves. There are often at least four positives of a move to a long-term care living environment.
First, as I have witnessed in my own family, healthy meals and a safe room can help a person live longer, giving more joy (in quality and time/duration) to kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.
Second, a move can help kids or grandkids inhabit a family home sooner than if they waited until the loved one passed away. In other words, when mom or dad move out, the kids or grandkids can move in and begin to build their own family memories in that home.
Third, the move to a long-term care environment can actually save money. As crazy as it can sound, residing in a long-term care environment can sometimes be a prerequisite to accessing military pensions, the death benefits of some life insurance before death and long-term care insurance coverage. Of course, we attorneys also help clients become eligible for the Medicaid and other government benefit programs into which those clients have paid taxes for decades.
Fourth, as much as family members love each other, caring for a sick or elderly loved one can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. Most family members will not complain of being caregivers, but the stress exists nonetheless.
People facing this situation are encouraged to avoid shooting the messenger, figuratively and literally.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.