The life of a caregiver is never dull. From managing a loved ones care to handling their finances, caregiving is a 24/7 job. While I thought I already knew how to navigate most of the demands of caregiving (while still maintaining my sanity), there was one task that almost put me over the edge: applying for Medicaid to pay for my grandmother’s long-term care.
Most people don’t realize that Medicare (the government insurance you can get when you turn 65) isn’t free and doesn’t cover everything—like long-term care, for instance. I got a whole crash course in Medicare and Medicaid last year when my grandmother first entered sub-acute rehab and later the nursing home. Things like long-term care planning, getting a supplemental Medicare plan, and applying for Medicaid was not what my twenty-year-old self thought of when I first began taking care of my grandmother. I naively believed that if you had a Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Health Care Proxy, you were in good shape. Welcome to Caregiving 101!
This past week, I spent the better part of my days collecting the five years worth of documents (see photo above for reference) needed for my grandmother’s Medicaid application that’s due on the first of the month. I called every financial institution, policy-holder, town and county office of records, cashed out a life insurance policy, and pre-paid a funeral. It was a daunting undertaking and one that I had been dreading for a year now. But I did learn a couple of things along the way, namely that everything you think should take an hour will inevitably take much longer, and nothing is easy. Even some of the simplest tasks, like opening a new account at the bank, took 3-5 business days. My grandfather’s death certificate took a week to arrive. And I’m still waiting for my Power of Attorney forms to be updated on some of her accounts.
At the moment, though, I’m hopeful that we will make the deadline with two working days left to tie up some loose ends. But I feel like it is going to take me way longer than that to recover from the stress and anxiety of this last week. And I will need more time to catch up on things I couldn’t get done for myself (like finishing the website for my new business) because I was running around trying to get all of the required documents for this application in time.
So, for caregivers, there is always something that needs our attention, time, and focus. This week drove home a major pain point for me as a caregiver, which is, how do you do this all and work full-time? Having just left my full-time job to build my own agency, I can tell you that it is still a struggle to find time to manage client work, grow my business, take care of my grandmother, and deal with all of the other tasks that are associated with being a caregiver.
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