Nursing Home Takes Money


“We don’t know what to do,” says the son. “Mom needs to go to a nursing home, but we don’t want to just turn her house over to them. Mom would want to leave something to her children.”

“We’ve heard that the nursing home just takes everything,” says the daughter. “Is there any way we can transfer the house out of mom’s name?”

Most people don’t understand how a nursing home is paid for the services it provides. Nursing homes are, for all intents and purposes, leased homes. Obviously, a nursing home differs from a traditional home – my house, for instance, does not have nurses on duty twenty-four hours a day – but a nursing home is the home of its residents.

A nursing home doesn’t take all of your money the second you walk through the door. It might never take all of a person’s money.

Nursing homes do cost a tremendous amount of money – often over $200 a day – so, eventually, a person may end up paying all of his money to the nursing home, if he lives long enough in the nursing home.

But nursing homes, like apartment buildings, earn the rent over time. In fact, nursing homes are paid on a daily basis, so a resident can check-out anytime he wants. In this way, nursing homes are more like hotels than apartments.

In previous columns, I’ve mentioned that people’s misconceptions about long-term care tend to prevent them from getting the help they need. This misconception – that nursing homes or assisted living residences “take all of your money” – is just one of those misconceptions.

People tend to prolong obtaining needed care not only because they fear the lack of independence that accompanies admitting the need for help but also because they have developed so many misconceptions about the manner in which the care is provided and their rights. For instance, if you thought that nursing home and assisted living residences took all of your money the second you walked through the door, would you ever seek care at a nursing home or assisted living residence?

Admittedly, long-term care is a scary subject. Nobody wants to think of themselves as needing long-term care. The very concept conjures up images of a prolonged and undignified death. And the cost of long-term care is very high – a nursing home may cost upwards of $7,000 a month and an assisted living residence upwards of $3,500.

But there are ways to legally plan to save some – or most – of your assets, and you should never think that the facility is going to take all of your money for doing nothing more than allowing you to become a resident. Most facilities provided excellent, needed care. Most facilities improve the individual’s qualify of life and many make life enjoyable again for their residents.

Planning to save money is a good thing, but getting needed care is the most important thing. Too many people forego care altogether because of the misconceptions that they harbor. These people sit in their homes enduring pain and threatening their own safety and welfare, because they fail to understand the options available to them.

Too many people live their lives based upon what a “friend” or “relative” told them. Almost universally, I have found that these friends and relatives get it wrong. For instance, nursing homes and assisted living residences do not just “take all of your money”; people can save a large portion of their assets even after they enter a nursing home; and a person isn’t automatically ineligible for Medicaid for three years.