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Elderly parents

Seriously Ill Father - Equity Release?

15 replies

hf128219 · 16/08/2012 15:23

I am after some advice.

My father is 83 and incredibly ill - he has dementia, heart problems and leukaemia. My mother is 79 and is his sole carer. I live 450 miles away - and am the only child. I visit when I can but it's just not enough.

My dm is struggling with the care aspect - he is falling over, incontinent, frail, has to be fed etc.

After a crash team had to go to their house yesterday to get him back to bed after he collapsed the GP has decided he is at risk of serious falls and should - most likely - be in a Care Home.

Carers are going to start coming in twice daily.

He is happy at home (as much as he can be) but the house has 4 storeys and dm is exhausting herself.

All in all it is an incredibly sad and difficult situation for all involved.

Now to the 'money' bit. Sorry. They are asset rich (in terms of their house) but do not have much cash savings. The only way dm would be able to afford care home fees is to sell their house and downsize - but then she is 79 and has all her good neighbours and friends nearby. It would also be a huge upheaval at her age.

The only other option I can think of is 'Equity Release'. I know this has mixed reviews but does anyone know of any other alternatives - or of any reputable Equity Release plans?

We are not in a position to help financially. Thanks so much for reading.

OP posts:
Selks · 16/08/2012 15:27

I don't know much about equity release, sorry, but I have heard that it needs to be approached with caution - some companies offering it can be highly unscrupulous.
You might want to take a look at the 'moneysavingexpert' website - I bet they have some info on equity release.
Also you could contact Age Uk (What used to be Age Concern) - they may be able to offer you some advice.
Sorry to hear that your parents are in this very difficult situation.

hf128219 · 16/08/2012 20:53

Bumping for any other advice. Thanks.

OP posts:
Selks · 16/08/2012 22:01

bumping for you

pinkteddy · 16/08/2012 22:13

I would avoid equity release, the interest rates are extortionate and it won't be long before they own the house and your dm will be left with nothing.

I believe if she has cash savings of less than £16K then she will not have to pay for care home fees for him, I don't think they expect the house to be sold when there is still someone living it in. However, I may be out of date on this and different councils have different eligibility criteria. Please get some advice from citizens advice or age concern as others have said. Don't offer to pay anything at the moment, maintain that they can't afford it. Its better for the council to assess him for the care home anyway as then I believe they won't quibble about picking up the tab when/if any of the family funding runs out.

membershipcard · 16/08/2012 22:17

Try reading the fact sheet for this on the Ahlzeimer's uk website. Very useful.
Sorry I can't link as on rubbish connection Sad

membershipcard · 16/08/2012 22:18

I think pink teddy is right, but I think it may be 16k each

AgentProvocateur · 16/08/2012 22:26

Scottish, so law may be different, but if there's still a spouse living in property, its value is disregarded for means testing. DO NOT do an equity release. I looked into it for my gran, and it was bad for lots of reasons - none of which I can remember off the too of my head. There are other options.

hf128219 · 16/08/2012 22:59

Thanks everyone.

AP - they are in Scotland. I have been reading various websites re this issue.

So I think I am right that if my mum stays in the house it cannot be counted as an asset and the value of the property is disregarded.

What about their sources of income? 1 state pension each and a Civil Service Pension (dad's). Is that counted?

No other sources of income. So just cash savings in ISA's etc.

God it's difficult being so far away - I feel quite useless really. I am going up next weekend to see them.

OP posts:
neversaydie · 16/08/2012 23:51

Firstly, if he and your Mum both want him to stay at home, and you can get him set up so he doesn't have to cope with stairs and equipped so carers can cope, then no-one will force him into a nursing home. It is far better for him and for your Mum and far cheaper to have carers going in several times a day than it is to distrupt their lives at this stage, and have to pay nursing home fees.

Secondly, if he is in as bad a state as it sounds from your OP, you will probably find that in Scotland the cost of the carers is covered by social services.

Basically, if they have no savings or your father is ill enough (which he may well be, by the sound of it) then they will not be expected to pay for the carers, and should also be loaned essential equipment - hospital bed, hoist, commode etc. You will probably have to move his bed into a downstairs room, though, so he doesn't have to cope with stairs or a stair lift - or assume that he stays in one room upstairs.

Try and get a carers assessment for your Mum, as well. She is entitled to it, and it opens the door to respite care - even if that is only someone to sit with your Dad a couple of mornings a week, so she can get out to the shops, or to meet friends. Caring for someone so vulnerable can completely take over your life, and some sort of time off is absolutely essential.

Having had experience of both Scottish and English care systems, I can assure you that your parents are much better off North of the Border!

AgentProvocateur · 17/08/2012 08:20

OP, I got good advice from Age Concern Scotland (which may now be called something else) at the time. I'll see if I saved any of the info, and will link when I'm home from work.

It's hard when you're so far away.

gingeroots · 18/08/2012 09:38

Talk to Age UK
They have stuff relating to Scotland

But I agree that it might be preferable for them ( though maybe more worrying for you ) if they stay where they are with support .

QuintessentialShadows · 18/08/2012 09:48

In my experience, Alzheimer patients tend to wake early, and get up in the night not realizing it is still night. They may start cooking, go out, etc.

In such situations, care assistants coming in twice a day, is going to be very little help, and wont offer your mum much in terms of support. She might have spent her night battling your dad, and need rest in the day, which she wont get as she will have to keep going to ensure he does not come to any harm, or set the house on fire, etc.

I know care homes sounds terrible, but it has been a real blessing for my dad, he can relax at home, and see mum at the care home every day. He does not have to care for her, but can spend time with her in a safe environment.
Another aspect is, an Alzheimer patient is not the same company as before the illness, so very tiring to deal with full time. Elderly couples tend to have a certain co dependency, and your mum might not welcome the idea of a care home, even if it will be better for them both over time.

gingeroots · 18/08/2012 09:54

Good points quint which I hadn't even considered .

I don't have experience of Alzheimers and should have said that before offering an opinion about staying at home homes .

hf128219 · 18/08/2012 11:14

Thanks so much everyone - I really value the advice.

Well the NHS have been brilliant - he had another fall and has been taken into hospital. Their GP was worried about my mum and her own health. So she is resting this weekend and getting her own strength back. She has been told not to visit the hospital until Monday.

This is an indefinite stay and SS are coming to do a financial/care assessment.

The GP, District Nurses, Paramedic Team and SS have been utterly brilliant.

OP posts:
neversaydie · 18/08/2012 17:07

I am glad to hear that your Dad and Mum are getting the support needed.

Incidentally, I agree that coping at home with carers would be much harder if your Dad is mobile. For most of his decline, my Dad wasn't. It was very hard initially (he used to nip into the loo, lock the door, fall over and get stuck!) but once he was confined to bed/chair it was impossible for him to do anything too hair-raising.

Also, he stayed very much himself, albeit very confused. Mum had friends whose husbands became verbally and physically aggressive as the dementia developed, and that made it virtually impossible for them to remain living at home.

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