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Catheter Care Can Be a Wee Bit of an Expense When Involved with an Assisted Living Placement

Real-life Story

My clients were the sons of a 94-year-old gentleman. One son lived in town, and the other lived out of state. At the time they contacted me, their father was living at home, could ambulate with a walker, and was having short-term memory issues. He needed assistance with meal preparation, hands on help with bathing and dressing, and a lot of cueing. But his biggest issue was that his body retains a lot of fluid due to medical issues. He has a catheter that has to be emptied at least four times a day. While he is capable of inserting the catheter on his own, the sons had been setting up the catheter and lubricating the tip for him. They also had an aide from a non-medical home care agency helping him several times a week for four hours at a time. Because their dad needed 24-hour supervision, the sons were taking turns watching him for 2-3 weeks at a time. Both were exhausted: One is still working full-time, and they told me they just couldn’t manage his care anymore.

The catheter immediately presented an issue because assisted living licensing does not allow assisted living communities to provide catheter care. Those services must be provided by an outside agency licensed to do so. Unfortunately, the cost to provide the needed service, four times a day, would be an additional $100 per day. Therefore, the cost for the catheter care would be an additional $3,000 a month on top of the $6,000 to $8,000 base cost for assisted living. This gentleman is not yet ready for a nursing home.

There were some funds available to pay for his care, and they were explicitly spelled out to me. However, according to my informed calculations and projections, all of the money would be spent over the next several years. I arranged for my clients to take tours of places that would allow their father to transfer to the skilled nursing area under Medicaid once his funds were exhausted. If he moved to skilled nursing at a later date, the catheter services would be provided at no additional charge. I also presented the option of an assisted living community that allows residents to apply for a benevolence fund once their fund once their personal funds are depleted.

The sons began insisting that their dad could be trained to take care of the catheter himself. However, the staff members at several of the communities expressed their doubts that, at age 94, he would be able to be trained to do so. The sons just didn’t seem to be convinced that their dad could afford the researched options, even though I showed them the numbers and proved that he can.

So here is the situation: I have presented several possible solutions to my clients’ problem by finding several places that could accommodate this gentleman. However, sometimes when people hear the prices involved with professional long-term care, they choose to be exhausted by taking care of their senior loved one themselves. In my opinion, that’s not the best idea.