My Frugal Grandma’s Long Term Care

My mom was my grandmother’s long term caregiver the last 10 years of her life.  My grandfather passed away in 1991 and my grandmother blossomed, at least it seemed that way to me. She seemed so much happier when she came over to visit.  My children were just babies at the time.

She was very happy living in her home, practicing her frugal habits which I’ve talked about before on this blog.  Her home was in a quiet neighborhood with businesses across the street.  My mom would bring lunch to my Grandma every day to check on her and make sure she was okay.  Sometime in 1996 my Grandma’s next door neighbor called my mom to report that Grandma was walking up and down the street talking to herself, and she admitted that it had been happening for awhile, but lately more frequently. Unfortunately, Grandma was also making a nuisance of herself at the businesses across the street. My Grandma’s neighbor had been getting her back home safely, but it was starting to happen so often that she knew it was time to let my mom know something had to be done.

Then my Grandma fell and hit her head one day shortly after my mom had left.  My mom always called Grandma every night but she couldn’t get hold of her.  Naturally she was concerned and went over to find Grandma lying on the floor, unable to get up, bleeding from a superficial wound.  Mom called the paramedics and she was taken to the emergency room for an examination and stitches.

It seems to be a common theme: When an elderly person falls, often the family starts to think Grandma or Grandpa might be better off in a nursing home.

My mom was a certified nursing assistant, and she had worked in nursing homes.  She was not happy about some of the situations she ran across and years before had made up her mind that Grandma was not going to live in one.

After Grandma fell, thankfully she did not break any bones, my mom had to make some big decisions. At the same time my mom was being evicted.  She lived in an old house in an ancient dilapidated neighborhood and the city had decided to renovate.  Instead of moving into Grandma’s house, Mom made the decision to sell her childhood home since the neighborhood was growing less “quiet” (read: gang infestation). The house sold for ~$50,000, just enough to buy a manufactured home on a corner lot in a small town.

My mom was a stay at home mom for most of her life.  She rarely held a full time job, instead working part time and living on a desperately tight budget.  My Grandma had worked full time for 50 years, saving and scrimping every penny and had earned a pension for her retirement years.

At the time my Grandma began living with my mom, she was coherent most of the time, but Alzheimer’s was beginning to rob her of her life.  In her lucid moments, she took steps to make my mom joint account holder, putting my mom in charge of her money.  Ironically the money my Grandma earned from her pension, combined with her Social Security allowed my mother more money than she had ever had in her life.  It was only about $2500 a month, but that was a lot to my mom, especially when you consider her home was paid in full.

Mom cared for Grandma night and day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  It would have cost a lot more than $2500 a month to put Grandma in a home, or to hire caretakers.  My mom never took a day off in ten years.  I’m glad my mom was able to be there for my Grandma.   I don’t want my mom to ever go into a nursing home either.  I hope between the six of us children, we will be able to care for my mom if the time comes that she can no longer live alone.

What happens in your family?  Did your grandparents live in a nursing home?  I still think of that old television show, The Waltons and how the whole family lived together.  Those were the good old days.


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4 thoughts on “My Frugal Grandma’s Long Term Care

  1. Wow. I am going through this right now!! My father has always had mental health issues, and now is 90 yrs old. He moved away from me at 70 and I was furious. I asked him who would take care of him etc. and he could not comprehend what I was saying.

    Today he is half way across the US in an assisted living that is costing 3100.00 a month. This is being paid by the little savings he has left, and his 1800.00 a month pension. He need up in assted living last spring, after being very sick.

    One his savings runs out, we will put him on the list for Medicaid. All the rest of his personal expenses will come out of my pocket. I am single, and the only family member that will deal with my dad. I am completely alone in this.

    My father never planned, and the problem I am facing is future personal expenses. My dad was/is a hoarder, and has 5storage facilities filled and paid for through next year. It is a huge mess emotionally and financially. I need to dispose of his junk within the next 8 months. My dads identity is in his stuff, and I am trying to figure out a way to do this with his dignity as #1.

    My father does not have any burial trust purchased either. My dad is still declared his own person, but I am considering putting him in a senior apartment for a while. I just don’t know what to do. I can get home health care in…..the problem is money. I just have a huge burden on my hands. Thankfully right now he is able bodied: can walk, dresshimself etc. just how long will that last?

    Thank you for listening from the bottom of my heart.


  2. How lucky she was. In a strange way.

    No one will take care of me. I’ll stay in my paid-off home as long as I can. Then I’ll sell it and use the proceeds to check myself into a life-care community. Not looking forward to it…


  3. That is great that your mom took care of your grandma like that! It’s weird, but I don’t recall any member of my family ever going to a nursing home! My parents and their parents died fairly suddenly and fairly young, and so I live in fear of having to go to a nursing home but not having enough money to do it and I loathe the idea of expecting my kids to pay for it! Does Medicare pay for a nursing home in that case?
    I’ve never gotten a straight answer on that from anybody.
    Thanks for help if anyone knows!


  4. My Grandma (86)lives with my aunt and probably will to the end of her life and for that I am grateful. My husband and I have had discussions on the future of our parents. His parents are around 70 (he is 30), my mom is 56 (I am 39). We both agree that we are most likely to have to take in my mom. Mostly because his parents actually saved for their future, while my mother has spent her money on DVDs and books. She already lives in my house at a rental discount, although that is helping us in the short term until we can afford to sell it. I am most worried about the two of us. We have no children and don’t have plans for any so we need to make sure we can afford a good nursing home in the future should we need it. Luckily, Alzheimer’s does not run in either of our families, we most likely will end up with bad hearts or diabetes. I am hoping we pass on before we need care.


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