RN Brandon Steffens is truly a jack of all trades with his home repair business.

By Bobby Anderson, staff writer

Growing up on the family farm, Brandon Steffens, RN, never saw a contractor’s truck pull up in the driveway.
No plumber, no electrician, no drywall guy and no painter ever set foot inside the house.
“I just grew up always working on the house with my dad. We never hired anything out,” Steffens said. “We did all the electrical, all the plumbing – whatever it was we did it ourselves.”
That work ethic carried the eventual float pool nurse through a seven-year stint with Home Depot and now to his current side business, Brandon’s Home Improvement.
Before he was working in the ICU and the ER, Steffens was plying the knowledge bestowed on him by his dad.
Elbow grease and a passion to make things better would make his dad proud.
Then nursing school and working with his hands took on a new meaning.
“People come to you in nursing in their worst states and it’s an emergency,” Steffens said, taking a break from an apartment remodel in Midwest City. “They’re dilapidated, sick or injured and we get the opportunity to put our hands on them and fix them and make things new again.”
Working nights four to five days a week for the past five years brought Steffens to a crossroads.
“Everyone told me to watch out, you’ll get burned out,” Steffens recalled. “I said ‘No, I wouldn’t’ but you get burned out.”
So Steffens decided to pour more of his time and talents into something else.
Being a contractor was a vocation he held before nursing. That took him into Home Depot, where he oversaw the entire local install business for the big box company.
Whether it be a sink or a door, a microwave or a dishwasher, Steffens was in charge of the contractors who carried out the work under Home Depot’s name.
It taught him even more about the business.
“I realized there is a huge need out there for people who just don’t know how to do home improvements or they didn’t have the time,” he said.
Or too often, they didn’t have a ton of money.
Home improvements are expensive. Steffens knows all too well the retail costs associated with a remodel.
And he knows the sizeable markup that goes with it.
Figuring things out and finding ways to save people a dollar are a challenge for him. Sometimes he challenges himself right out of a bigger check.
He showed up for a recent garage door opener install job one night. The customer had the new opener waiting for him in the box.
Steffens went up to unplug the old wire and noticed an electrical short.
“I saved him $400,” Steffens said. “I like that sense of accomplishment.”
For some reason Steffens’ specialty has always been tile. Projects that most contractors avoid like the plague, Steffens has a certain affinity.
“Most contractors shy away from it because it’s hard, lot of up and down and on your knees. That never bothered me,” he said. “I like the perfection of it, just to lay each piece of tile in a certain way. It’s kind of like art because you can do different things with tile that really finishes a house off.”
For Steffens, the business venture has been a source of freedom. It’s not a straight 12-hour gig, meeting sometimes unreasonable expectations with limited resources.
“I like the sense of accomplishment,” Steffens said. “In nursing, I talk to people all day long and doing home improvement I get a lot of alone time. I get to just lose myself in work for some time and get to be creative.”
“You go in and see something nasty and absolutely turn it around and make it new,” says Steffens, who has remodeled two of his own homes. “I like to touch every surface. I like when people come in to a house I’ve remodeled and every surface in that house has been touched by me.”
He admits he really hasn’t advertised since taking on more work.
He hasn’t had time.
“You do a good job and people tell people,” explained Steffens, who can be found on Facebook under Brandon’s Home Improvement. “People are always asking if you know anybody. It just snowballs from there.”
With four kids, age five, 10, 15 and 22 – Steffens has a full plate at home. But he’s already taken a couple of his kids along to start learning the trade.
“My 10-year-old has shown interest,” Steffens beamed. “He helped with carpentry on a door frame. He had all these wonderful better ideas how to fix it. There’s no science behind it.”
But there’s definitely an art.
And for now, the combination of science and art suits this nurse just fine.

by Kaylee Kain, Director of Communication

Art becomes the platform for discussion surrounding history, race, sex and injustice in The Westheimer Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair: Mildred Howard and Testimony: The Life and Work of David Friedman, both opening on Jan. 25 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
San Francisco-based artist Mildred Howard, who has achieved an international reputation for her collages and installations, will serve as the seventh Jerome M. Westheimer, Sr. & Wanda Otey Westheimer Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair. An exhibition of Howard’s work will open at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on Jan. 25 with a public opening at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24.
Mildred Howard’s work incorporates a variety of media to create nuanced examinations of gender, race, politics and other issues central to contemporary society. Through her use of collage, sculptural assemblage and large-scale installations, Howard blends American folk art and family photographs among other appropriated objects to explore these increasingly relevant issues of sexual harassment, racial oppression and class struggles found in America.
Her methods for creating these pieces is just as diverse as the themes behind them. Over the course of her influential career, she has not limited herself to any one medium. Her Casanova series is a perfect example of her versatility, in which she uses both collage and jacquard woven tapestry. The endless possibilities and combinations for multiple materials is what fascinates Howard most. “I started off with collage, and I love the mixture of materials,” says Howard. “That’s always interested me – patterns within patterns. You can make art out of anything. That’s my reason for using those materials, because I’m interested in history, because I’m interested in memory and in place, and looking at objects in other kinds of ways that what they were originally intended for.”
Her work in this exhibition provides a platform for discussion revolving around political and sociological topics currently making headlines in regard to the #MeToo movement and immigration, among others.
Also opening this month is Testimony: The Life and Work of David Friedman, which surveys the artist’s long career, with a focus on his series Because They Were Jews!, a visual diary of his time in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland and his internment at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Friedman(n) was born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic), but moved to Berlin in 1911, where he studied under German impressionist Lovis Corinth. With the rise of Nazism, he and his family escaped to Prague in 1938, where he continued to paint for himself and sold artwork until 1941 when the family was deported to Lodz Ghetto. Most of the work from earlier in his career was lost, destroyed, or looted by Nazis.
In 1944, Friedman was separated from his wife and daughter, never seeing them again, and was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Friedman survived his internment at the infamous concentration camp and married fellow survivor Hildegard Taussig. After living in Israel for five years, the family immigrated to the United States in 1954, eventually becoming citizens and settling in St. Louis, where he worked as a commercial artist for an advertising company, later retiring in 1962. As a Holocaust survivor, Friedman found a new purpose in life to fight anti-Semitism and racial hatred by depicting the horrors he had witnessed and to show them to the world.
Testimony offers a glimpse into the lifelong effects of the Holocaust, but also serves as an affirmation of survival. An event is scheduled on Feb. 28 featuring the artist’s daughter, Miriam Friedman Morris, and Lorne Richstone, associate professor of music at OU, will honor the legacy of Friedman’s work and will include musical excerpts from Jewish composers who were lost to the Holocaust.
More information about these exhibitions and related programs is available on the museum’s website at www.ou.edu/fjjma.
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is located in the OU Arts District on the corner of Elm Avenue and Boyd Street, at 555 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus. Admission to the museum is complimentary to all visitors, thanks to the generosity of the OU Office of the President and the OU Athletics Department. The museum is closed on Mondays. Information and accommodations are available by calling (405) 325-4938 or visiting www.ou.edu/fjjma.
A new exhibition at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art focuses on artist Mildred Howard (b. 1945) and her influential career. She has used a variety of media to engage in pointed yet nuanced examinations of the history and politics of gender, race and other issues central to contemporary society. Howard serves as the seventh guest artist in the university’s Jerome M. Westheimer, Sr. and Wanda Otey Westheimer Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair program. A native of San Francisco, Howard received her master of fine arts degree from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, in 1985, and has worked in the Bay Area for the majority of her career. This exhibition will be on display Jan. 25 through April 7.
Mildred Howard (U.S., b. 1945)
Casanova: Style, Swagger, and the Embracement of the Other I, 2018
Jacquard tapestry, 72 x 54” Courtesy of Magnolia Editions and the artist
Testimony: The Life and Work of David Friedman surveys the career of artist David Friedman (1893-1980), from his early days in Berlin to his late career in St. Louis, Missouri. The exhibition includes portraits and landscapes as well as his powerful series Because They Were Jews!, a visual diary of his time in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland and his internment at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.Testimony is both an indictment of the horrors of the Holocaust and an affirmation of survival. This exhibition will be on display Jan. 25 through May 26.
David Friedman (Austria, 1893-1980)
Cattle Train to Auschwitz from the series Because They Were Jews!, December 1963, Charcoal, 18 x 24”
Copyright © 1989 Miriam Friedman Morris All rights reserved

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Vice President of Development Penny Voss with memorabilia from 'Oklahoma!'. Through a generous gift, OMRF has received more than ,000 for medical research through ticket sales for the musical.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has received its share of interesting donations over the years. Along with the typical gifts made by check and credit card, there have also been cars, houses, jars of change collected at a lemonade stand, and even a toy soldier collection.
But none quite rival the estate gift that Claremore’s William Edgar Riggs left to the Oklahoma City nonprofit.
Riggs’ brother Lynn penned “Green Grow the Lilacs,” the 1931 play that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II used as the basis for the musical “Oklahoma!” When Lynn died, he willed equal shares of his 1-percent royalty on the musical to William Edgar and his three other siblings.
William Edgar lost his wife to heart disease and his daughter to cancer. So, when he passed away in 1977, he left his royalty share to OMRF to benefit research for those two diseases.
“It was a really generous and foresighted thing to do,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
With the gift, OMRF receives one-quarter of 1 percent of the musical’s box office share each year.
The show enjoyed a series of revivals from 1979 through 2002, including two on Broadway and one in London’s West End starring Hugh Jackman, and is still performed approximately 700 times a year. As a result, William Riggs’ gift has now provided OMRF researchers with more than $700,000.
“I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector my whole life, but I’d never heard of a donation like this until I joined OMRF,” said Penny Voss, OMRF’s vice president of development. “It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.”
Indeed, the donations will continue as long as “Green Grow the Lilacs” remains under copyright. In 2017, OMRF received just over $10,000 in “Oklahoma!” royalties.
With “Oklahoma!” celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2018, the musical saw a surge in the number of productions. That should mean a corresponding boost in revenues for OMRF.
“Even though OMRF didn’t yet exist when Lynn Riggs wrote his play, I hope he’d find it fitting that his work benefits Oklahoma’s homegrown research institute,” said Voss.
Grassroots support from Oklahomans in all 77 counties helped make OMRF a reality in 1950. “Those are the same kind of people portrayed in the musical—strong, caring, forward-looking,” she said. “We still see that spirit in our donors today.”

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D. (Photo Courtesy Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation).

Eliza Chakravarty’s journey to better health started with an impulse buy in a checkout line.
“It wasn’t some grandiose plan to get in shape,” Chakravarty, an immunologist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, said of the beginner’s Pilates DVD she tossed in her grocery cart years ago. “It was just a small step in the right direction.”
Despite her busy schedule as a new mom and medical resident, she committed to doing the 17-minute video every evening while the baby napped.
It didn’t seem like much, she said, but soon she felt more energized, happier and, generally, better about herself.
“That was several years ago, and I’ve slowly built on that foundation. This year, I completed my first half-marathon, and it all started in that check-out line.”
Chakravarty said it’s these small, positive decisions that ultimately lead to real lifestyle changes. Overly ambitious goals are a big reason more than nine out of 10 Americans fail to stick to their resolutions.
So instead of pledging to drop 30 pounds or run a marathon, start slowly instead. Go for a walk three days a week or give up one poor food choice. Then, once the changes become routine, add on new goals in bite-sized pieces.
OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D., agrees. “You only have so much willpower and self-discipline, and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Focus on one tree, not the whole forest.”
Big goals can lead to setbacks that discourage you and knock you off course. Small, manageable goals have the opposite effect. “Small steps allow you to build gradually on your successes. The more you succeed, the more you crave that feeling of accomplishment,” Chakravarty said. “The little lifestyle changes really add up.”
These principles, she said, can be applied to anything from fitness to passion projects or even financial health. For example, consider saving just $10 a week in a separate account, Chakravarty suggested. “It might not seem like a lot, but by the end of the year, it adds up and might help adjust your attitude on spending.”
Over time, she said, little changes can pay off in a big way for your health, both physically and mentally.
“Before you know it, you’ve done something you didn’t think you could—and it didn’t require a total system shock or radical lifestyle change to do it,” said Chakravarty. “That can be incredibly empowering.”

The Oklahoma City Police Department’s Triad program has been around for close to 18 years. Triad is a program which provides a joint approach to crime issues which affect older citizens and provides the enhanced delivery of law enforcement services to our more mature population. Triad sponsors crime prevention and victim/witness programs for older persons, offers reassurance programs for older persons to reduce fear and provide moral support; provides a forum for law enforcement and the community to share needs, concerns, and develop solutions. TRIAD unites senior citizens, sheriffs and local police to identify problem areas for senior citizens in order to develop and implement community-wide solutions.
The Oklahoma City Police Department started the Triad program in November 2001. Sheryl Presley is the department’s Triad coordinator and runs the Triad groups in the metro. Triad North meets the second Thursday of the month at 1:30pm at India Shrine. Triad South meets the third Thursday of the month at 1:30pm at Woodson Senior Center 3401 S May, and Triad East meets at our Springlake Station (4116 N. Prospect) on the third Monday of each month at 10:00am (except January & February when the meetings are bumped to the fourth Monday of the month). There are no meetings in September & December. Each meeting typically features a guest speaker who provides informative information. Current scams and frauds targeting senior citizens are also discussed.
Tax season is a time when we see IRS scam ramp up. Seniors are targeted primarily because they are viewed as easy prey. Usually the scammer will call from a number they have spoofed to make it look like it is the IRS calling. The caller will usually say something like they are with IRS and you owe them money. The victim, thinking that it is the IRS, reacts out of fear and suddenly believes that they had better pay the IRS. First, the IRS will never call you if you owe them money. Second, the IRS will not threaten you and tell you that you have to pay them right now. If you owe money to IRS, they will send you a letter in the mail. If you choose to ignore it, they will send you another letter. If you still ignore the letter, then the IRS will turn your case over to a collection agency. This type of scam is something we go over in our meetings with our Triad members and talk to them about what to do. You can also report the call to the IRS impersonation scam line at 1-800-366-4484 or website at www.tigta.gov.
Scammers also use a ploy known as phishing to obtain your personal information. Phishing scams are typically carried out by a scammer sending you an email that claims to be from a financial institution, business, or a government entity like the IRS. The email usually asks for personal identifying information such as your date of birth or your social security number. It is not uncommon for the scammer to ask for your credit card number or the PIN from you debit card. Never give out this type of information to anyone who requests it in the form of an email. Again, the IRS will not send you an email claiming that you owe them back taxes.
This is but one of several IRS scams of which senior citizens should be mindful. Over the past few years, we have seen a trend of thieves stealing identities to fraudulently obtain IRS refund checks. It begins when a scammer assumes someone else’s identity and then fills out a tax a tax return in that person’s name. The IRS then sends the scammer victim’s tax refund check, and since they have already assumed
the victim’s identity, they simply cash the check and pocket the money. Please remember that if something seems suspicious, always err on the side of caution and call police.
A great way for senior citizens in our community to stay current on the latest scams and threats is to get involved in Triad. Having knowledge of scams and crimes targeting the elderly is a great way to help yourself stay safe.
If you have questions regarding Triad, please contact Sheryl Presley at 316-4336. Sheryl is also available at no charge to give presentations on scams, identity theft, mail safety, neighborhood safety, personal and home safety, holiday shopping tips, purse safety, and elder abuse.


The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages the public to take safety precautions for the upcoming winter weather. Proper planning can reduce the risk of injury and illness while also ensuring a family is prepared for a major winter weather event.
Cold outdoor temperatures require residents to monitor not only their home temperature, but their body temperature as well. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises infants less than 1 year of age should never sleep in a cold room because infants lose body heat more easily than adults. Room temperatures should remain above 65 degrees.
In a sleeping area, babies should not be wrapped in blankets, but rather dressed in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas. Also, a baby’s face and head should not be covered while sleeping. It is important not to over bundle a baby, because overheating can be dangerous as well. Parents and caregivers should watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the baby’s chest feeling hot to the touch. If a comfortable indoor temperature cannot be maintained, temporary arrangements should be made to stay elsewhere.
It is also important for adults age 65 and older to remain in a warm environment as they often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity.
Scott Sproat, director of the OSDH Emergency Preparedness and Response Service, said it’s important to use caution when heating a home with a fireplace, space heater or wood stove, using them only when they are properly vented.
“You can protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector,” said Sproat. “Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside the house, in basements, in garages, or near windows. It’s also important to have chimneys cleaned and inspected each year.”
Other tips to prepare for winter weather include:
*Wear multiple layers of clothing to stay warm, as well as a hat, scarf, mittens, a water-resistant jacket and boots. Stay as dry as possible, as water against the skin from wet clothing can chill the body quickly.
*Be prepared if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones are cut off for an extended period of time. Those who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements.
*Vehicles should be winterized before winter storm season. Check the tread on all tires and make sure they are not too worn to risk losing traction on the road. Keep the gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
*Carry extra clothing, blankets and high energy snacks, such as trail mix or protein bars in your car for protection if the car stalls.
*Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
*Stay informed. Know what National Weather Service winter storm and blizzard watches and warnings mean. Learn more about weather advisories at nws.noaa.gov .
For more information about preparing for winter weather and other events, visit www.ready.gov.

A new research study co-authored by an OU Medicine physician shows that a comprehensive, coordinated care program for people with dementia and their caregivers significantly decreased the likelihood that the patients would enter a nursing home. The study also shows that the program saved Medicare money and was cost-neutral after accounting for program costs.
The research, conducted at the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, was designed to evaluate the costs of administering the program, as well as the health care services used by program participants, including hospitalizations, emergency room visits, hospital readmissions and long-term nursing home placement.
“The most striking finding was that patients enrolled in the program reduced their risk of entering a nursing home by about 40 percent,” said lead author Lee Jennings, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Jennings began the project while on faculty at the Geffen School at UCLA and finished it after arriving at Oklahoma.
The study was published Dec. 21 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The research focused on the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program. In the program, people with dementia and their caregivers meet with a nurse practitioner specializing in dementia care for a 90-minute in-person assessment and then receive a personalized dementia care plan that addresses the medical, mental health and social needs of both people. The nurse practitioners work collaboratively with the patient’s primary care provider and specialist physicians to implement the care plan, including adjustments as needs change over time. A total of 1,083 Medicare beneficiaries with dementia were enrolled in the program and were followed for three years. The study compared them to a similar group of patients living in the same ZIP codes who did not participate in the program.
There were no differences between the two study groups in hospitalizations, emergency room visits or hospital readmissions. However, cost was another important element of the study. Participants in the program saved Medicare $601 per patient, per quarter, for a total of $2,404 a year. However, after program costs were factored in, the program was cost-neutral and might result in savings in other health care systems. That was good news to the study’s authors.
“The findings of this study show that a health care system-based comprehensive dementia care program can keep persons with dementia in their homes and in the community without any additional cost to Medicare,” said the study’s senior author, David Reuben, M.D., Archstone Professor of Medicine and chief of the UCLA Division of Geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Jennings added that individuals with dementia typically have not received good-quality care. “Part of the reason,” she said, “is that the care takes a significant amount of time, which primary care physicians don’t have in abundance. In addition, pharmacologic treatments for dementia are limited, which makes community resources all the more important for both patients and caregivers. However, community programs tend to be underutilized.”
The intervention featured in the study addresses those issues directly. The assessment looks not only at what the patient and caregiver need, but also at their strengths, such as financial security, family assistance and proximity to community resources. It is designed to be interdisciplinary and to address the needs of both patients and caregivers.
“This study aligns with similar studies of collaborative care models for other chronic diseases, such as heart failure,” Jennings said. “It underscores that we need to be thinking differently about how we provide care to persons with chronic illnesses, like dementia. This study shows the benefit of a collaborative care model, where nurse practitioners and physicians work together to provide comprehensive dementia care.”

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak is praising the ruling by a federal judge that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Judge Reed C. O’Connor said the tax bill passed by Congress in Dec. 2017 effectively rendered the entire health law unconstitutional because it eliminated the penalty for not having insurance. O’Connor, judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ruled that without that penalty, the law was no longer valid.
“I applaud the decision by Judge O’Connor to rule that the ACA is unconstitutional,” said Doak. “It offers an opportunity to refocus efforts on choice, affordability and consumer protections, elements that have been absent in the marketplace since the inception of the ACA. Whether the ruling is upheld through the appellate process or not, it is now time to apply sensible free market alternatives and fix the ACA problems legislatively. Part of this strategy should be the promotion of consumer alternatives such as association health plans and short-term limited duration plans.”
The administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees federal insurance exchanges, said the ruling will have no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan. An appeal is expected in the case which will likely end up in the Supreme Court.

Dear Savvy Senior,

What are the eligibility requirements to get Medicaid coverage for nursing home care?

Caregiving Daughter

Dear Caregiving,
The rules and requirements for Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care are complicated and will vary according to the state where your parent lives. With that said, here’s a general, simplified rundown of what it takes to qualify.
Medicaid Eligibility
Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that covers health care for the poor, is also the largest single payer of America’s nursing home bills for seniors who don’t have the resources to pay for their own care.
Most people who enter nursing homes don’t qualify for Medicaid at first, but pay for care either through long-term care insurance or out-of-pocket until they deplete their savings and become eligible for Medicaid.
To qualify for Medicaid, your parent’s income and assets will need to be under a certain level that’s determined by their state. Most states require that a person have no more than about $2,000 in countable assets that includes cash, savings, investments or other financial resources that can be turned into cash.
Assets that aren’t counted for eligibility include their home if it’s valued under $560,000 (this limit is higher – up to $840,000 – in some states), their personal possessions and household goods, one vehicle, prepaid funeral plans and a small amount of life insurance.
But be aware that while your parent’s home is not considered a countable asset to determine their eligibility, if he or she can’t return home, Medicaid can go after the proceeds of their house to help reimburse their nursing home costs, unless a spouse or other dependent relative lives there. (There are some other exceptions to this rule.)
After qualifying, all sources of your parent’s income such as Social Security and pension checks must be turned over to Medicaid to pay for their care, except for a small personal needs allowance – usually between $30 and $90.
You also need to be aware that your parent can’t give away their assets to qualify for Medicaid faster. Medicaid officials will look at their financial records going back five years to root out suspicious asset transfers. If they find one, their Medicaid coverage will be delayed a certain length of time, according to a formula that divides the transfer amount by the average monthly cost of nursing home care in their state.
So if, for example, your parent lives in a state where the average monthly nursing home cost is $5,000 and they gave away cash or other assets worth $50,000, they would be ineligible for benefits for 10 months ($50,000 divided by $5,000 = 10).
Spousal Protection
Medicaid also has special rules for married couples when one spouse enters a nursing home and the other spouse remains at home. In these cases, the healthy spouse can keep one half of the couple’s assets up to $120,900 (this amount varies by state), the family home, all the furniture and household goods and one automobile. The healthy spouse is also entitled to keep a portion of the couple’s monthly income – between $2,030 and $3,022. Any income above that goes toward the cost of the nursing home recipient’s care.
What about Medicare?
Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors 65 and older, and some younger people with disabilities, does not pay for long-term care. It only helps pay up to 100 days of rehabilitative nursing home care, which must occur after a hospital stay.
Find Help
For more detailed information, contact your state Medicaid office (see Medicaid.gov for contact information). You can also get help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see ShiptaCenter.org), which provides free counseling on all Medicare and Medicaid issues.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.