PLANNING TO STAY AT HOME - THE FRAIL ELDER WAIVER
Most senior citizens spend substantial time thinking and worrying about whether they eventually will need nursing home care and how they will afford it. Everyone seems to have family members or neighbors who have become too ill to be cared for at home, necessitating a move to a nursing home.
However, many people are not aware of an existing MassHealth program that allows frail seniors who need nursing-home-level care to receive substantial services aimed at enabling them to remain at home. The "Frail Elder Waiver" or "Home and Community-Based Services" was created several years ago to help frail seniors and their loved ones avoid the substantial expense of moving into a nursing home.
In order to be eligible for the program, the elder services agency designated by MassHealth for the area in which the senior lives must certify that the senior requires-nursing-home level care unless such services are provided at home. The home can be the senior's home, a relative's home, or even an assisted living facility.
The senior must also qualify financially, meaning possessing only $2,000 in countable assets. Countable assets do not include up to $750,000 in equity in the senior's home. In addition, countable assets can be used to purchase an annuity to create an income stream, as long as the total income does not exceed $2,042 per month. It is important to note that neither the assets nor income of a spouse count in determining financial eligibility.
Once qualified for this program, the senior can receive home-based care such as: home health aides; adult day care; transportation; home-delivered meals; a personal emergency system (i.e. life line); drug dispensing machines; and/or visiting nurses. The program will even pay family members to provide care for the senior.
For seniors who want to stay in their house, proper planning coupled with knowledge of the extensive programs offered by MassHealth, such as the Frail Elder Waiver, can make all the difference.