If a parent needs long term care - either at home or in a nursing facility, children may watch as their parent's savings dwindle to pay for the care, which can cost upwards of $5,000 - 10,000.00 per month. If the parent ends up meeting the eligibility criteria for Medicaid (called MassHealth in Massachusetts), then Medicaid will begin to pay for the care. But what if states required the children of the elderly to contribute to the cost of nursing home or at-home care?
The New York Times blog, Aging Well, has a recent column about the idea that children should have to financially contribute to their aging parents care. The author writes about her experience watching her mother spend her savings on health care, and then having to turn to Medicaid to pay for the care. She writes
Massachusetts does have one of those laws on the books ( link to the Massachusetts general law on filial responsibility) although I doubt it's been enforced in the recent past. However, as Medicaid regulations tighten you never know what might happen in the future.
Most of my clients who end up needing nursing home care have been cared for by their family members for years, first small things like a ride here or there, or meals and cleaning every so often, progressing up to full time live-in care before the health and safety of the elder requires more professional care. And while there are certainly some clients whose children haven't been involved with their care for whatever reason, they seen to be the exception rather than the rule.