‘Spending down’

I spent about two hours today going through bills and other paperwork of Mom’s to prepare for the Medicaid application. I’m not particularly organized about bills and records and neither is my husband. I generally know where things are, but I often have to go through a pile of things to find specifically what I’m looking for. I have been putting this task off, but now I am truly nearing the point where I must apply for Medicaid so Mom doesn’t experience a gap during which she has no money at all and no access to government funds. I’m actually still afraid of that happening, but when I touched base with the assisted facility administrator, he didn’t seem alarmed about where we are. He recommended applying now, and said Medicaid will see Mom and me through “spending down” the rest of her money. I’m thinking it should be fairly simple. Mom has no property. No car. No life insurance. Just two annuities left to surrender. Two sources of income. The one sticky thing is a credit card. I have been paying regularly on it for two years, but there is still a balance of some substance. I don’t know how that will factor into spending down. I was also told by a social worker that Medicaid allows applicants to prepay funeral expenses. But my sister said she will handle those expenses so we don’t have to set them aside now.

I visited Mom before lunch today. She was in the lobby. Her hair was sticking straight up in the back, so I figured she had had a nap this morning. We went to her apartment. I asked her how things were on the way down the hall and she said, “Not too good.” I asked what was wrong. She said, “The cat…” and didn’t finish. When we got to her apartment, the door was ajar. She must have absently walked out of the apartment. I was surprised because she is usually attentive to the door. The cat was in his spot on the bench by the window. His fur is getting matted, so I began looking around for the wire brush we have for him. I have seen it at Mom’s before, but I couldn’t find it anywhere today. Perhaps it’s in Mom’s purse. I didn’t look there. I dropped off a new box of cat litter. I found the six pairs of disposable underwear that I had thrown away on Friday now on Mom’s bathroom counter. I asked her about them and she said they were dirty. I realized she had retrieved them from her trash can. She said she didn’t know who had put a huge amount of trash in the can, meaning these underwear, and I said I had, and that that was OK, because a staff member will come and get them. I had put a huge bag of litter on top of these underwear, in fact, to indicate it was all trash that should be taken away. I actually saw some sprinkes of litter on Mom’s bathroom counter, too, making me wonder if she had stored the bag of old litter up there as well. I cleaned the counter. I found two more pairs of plastic underwear on Mom’s bed and asked if they were dirty. She sniffed one pair, to my dismay, and said they seemed clean. I decided to put them in the trash anyhow. One pair had a yellow tint to it, so I knew it was not clean. I noticed Mom still had the same socks on that she had been wearing last Monday. I helped her change into new socks.

Mom said she has been feeling a little depressed. She can’t articulate why, but I asked anyhow if she could tell me what was bothering her. She seemed fine when I arrived, had been sitting next to one of her friends in the lobby waiting for the dining room to open. She wasn’t able to say what was wrong. But if anyone knows what depressed feels like, it is my mom. So I felt kind of sad and wondered what could be affecting her mood. I told her my husband and I want to take her to dinner sometime this week, and she perked up at that idea. Now to actually make that happen… It’s probably easier for me to just take her to lunch. If we’re going to get her to dinner, we’d have to pick her up before 5 p.m., and 4:30 would be best so we catch her before she goes into the dining room. My husband had recommended taking her to brunch today, but I imagined a church crowd that would cause us to wait at Bob Evans, and I just didn’t feel up for that. Knowing she was down today, I will plan to call her this week to check on her.

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