Most of us know that if we have a medical emergency, we go to the emergency room.
However, when we face less urgent but similarly important medical needs (or situations based upon medical needs), where to turn can be less clear. For instance, if someone is prone to falling or can no longer undertake certain daily life tasks (such as eating, bathing, cooking, etc.) without help, that person can wonder where to turn.
Fortunately, there are resources for members of our community who need assistance due to age or medical conditions. This column does not include an exhaustive list of resources, but it should give some idea of where to start when facing these challenging situations.
People over age 60 can seek help in living at home as long as possible through their local, county/area Council/Agency on Aging. In addition to transportation to medical appointments, many of these local agencies provide help with chores around the home and sometimes even some light home maintenance. Even more importantly, many of these agencies serve as a referral source for government assistance programs and can sometimes even help people get eligible for those programs.
Those other programs include Medicaid, which pays for medical care for people who have limited assets (and technically limited income). There are different types of Medicaid. Some Medicaid acts like medical insurance, and more than 20% of Ohioans are covered by this type of Medicaid. Other Medicaid can include the cost of room and board in a nursing home (institutional Medicaid).
If someone could use the help of Medicaid due to medical issues and limited financial resources, that person might be eligible for a Medicaid alternative program that could help that person stay at home or otherwise avoid relocating to a nursing home facility. In Ohio, there are two primary Medicaid alternative programs.
First, seniors with limited financial resources may be able to participate in the Passport alternative. Passport provides resources to help people stay home and not relocate to nursing homes. To be eligible for Passport, a person must be eligible for Medicaid.
Notably, Passport can be used to pay family members to provide part or much the care needed at home. Obviously, these financial payments to the family member can allow that family member to decrease other employment in order to have more time, energy and ability to help the loved one.
Second, if someone needs more intensive care than what can be provided in his or her home, that person may be eligible for the Assisted Living Waiver alternative. The ALW alternative can provide financial resources for people who reside in one of the various types of assisted living and/or independent living facilities in our area. The ALW alternative also requires Medicaid eligibility. Explained simply, ALW pays for the care portion of an assisted living (or similar) facility bill so that the resident can use his or her Social Security income, pension, etc. to pay for the room and board portion of the bill at the facility.
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.