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Nursing Home Costs Forcing Elderly Couples to Divorce


For some elderly people, nursing home care is a costly reality. A recent story in TheState.com detailed how some elderly couples have been forced to divorce in order to pay for the costs of nursing home treatment for one spouse.

The story detailed the case of a 68-year-old woman who suffered a stroke that left her unable to swallow or communicate. The stroke essentially left this woman unable to eat unless being tube-fed.

In this instance, the woman had been the primary bread-winner in her family. More specifically, the woman had $100,000 in savings, a $230,000 IRA and the house in her name. On the other hand, her 70-year old husband of 44 years was a diabetic with little savings and no pension.

When the woman was forced into a nursing home at a pricey $7,000 monthly bill after her stroke, her husband was left in a bit of a financial predicament. Since his wife never signed a power of attorney, the husband was unable to access her funds to pay for the nursing home bills. And when he filed for Medicaid to pay for the bills, he was told that his wife and he had too much money to qualify.

This man then had to go to a probate court and establish guardianship actions. However, two of the couple's estranged children objected to their father taking any money out of their mother's account, and the diabetic husband is still left in quite a predicament.

Divorce and the Elderly: A Closer Examination

With this story in mind, TheState.com piece detailed that many elderly couples in similar situations are taking matrimonial actions as opposed to going to probate courts like the man in the example above. In other words, they are choosing to divorce to survive financially.

Essentially, the story raised an important question, asking what's wrong with a system in which the healthy spouse does not have the financial ability to live when having to pay nursing home costs ranging from anywhere to $5,000 to $12,000 a month.

TheState.com story basically then went on to state how disconcerting and embarrassing it is that elderly couples with tight budgets because of nursing home costs are being forced to divorce in order to financially survive. When you consider this commentary with the fact that divorces among elderly people are rising, the situation becomes even more worrisome.

Now when elderly couples are divorcing because they are unhappy or have other valid reasons, there's nothing wrong with that, but when older couples are being forced to divorce because of health and financial issues, something is clearly wrong.

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