I am recently widowed, age 84, with $10,000 cash and a duplex worth about $50 ,000. How can I handle my affairs now and prepare for acceptance in a retirement home when I need one. I wish to dissuade relatives from putting me into a nursing home. M. M.
Yours is not an uncommon problem, but it is one that is often not addressed until only limited options remain. Many retirement homes offering housing accommodations, plus communal eating, require entrants to be in reasonably good health. A lifetime commitment to the home is usually required in return for a commitment by the home to provide lifetime care. Many variations of this agreement are offered by proprietary homes and those run by religious organizations.
Most elderly persons wait too long before applying, or they fail to foresee the delay of a waiting list. As a result, when they can no longer care for themselves, they wish to move to the retirement home, only to discover that the home will not accept them because of their pysical condition.
You should begin investigating available options and applying to the home of your choice. Take time, as this is a choice not to be rushed. To avoid the risk of relatives putting you into an undesirable nursing home, you could establish a living trust. The trustee would manage your resources for your exclusive care even if you should be incapacitated mentally or physically.