We are asked fairly often if spouses can move to a nursing home together. The answer is that legally there is no reason why not. In fact, if people have the money and would simply rather live in an environment where all of their needs are tended to they are free to contract with a Long Term Care facility to provide them with room and board. In this regard, a nursing home is no different than a hotel.
As a practical matter there are two things standing in the way of this arrangement. First, most people do not have the money to pay for tow $5,000 per month bills for room and board. Second, most nursing homes do not allow spouses in care to reside in the same room.
As to the first, unless a person meets the legal requirement of “medical necessity” they cannot access their Nursing Home Benefits under Medicaid. Moreover, the financial qualifications for an applicant whose spouse remains in the Community are much more generous than the qualifications for a couple where both are in care.
Second, Nursing Homes more often than not do not allow spouses to room together for safety reasons. Similar to the problem shown in “The Notebook” spouses with dementia can reach the point where they simply do not know the person who claims to be their spouse. Since this can happen without warning, normal personal affection and interaction with a spouse can become assault at a moments notice.
But, on a happier note, it is most often our experience with clients that the spouse who remains home soon becomes better rested, better fed, and, most importantly, less stressed out and fearful. Spouses facing long term care present special concerns for all.