The Devil and Mrs. Jones

Written by Chris Stieben and Megan Benner Senecal. Posted in Our Community

The thought of going to a nursing home makes most people panic—the thought of giving up your home, your money, and your independent activities. In the next couple of articles, we will explore the thought of the Devil and how Mrs. Jones is able to navigate the unknown and eventually eliminate the Devil mentality as she works her way through the system.

Mrs. Jones, who is 88 years old and lives alone in her own home, had a fall while walking into church. She could not remember the events leading up to the fall. Mrs. Jones was taken to the emergency room and suffered a fracture in her hand and was generally sore. Mrs. Jones’ children are very involved but have busy careers and lives. Mrs. Jones now has trouble putting on her own clothes, cooking, etc. Her children have stopped by every day to help her negotiate doctor appointments and daily life. The conversation about a nursing home was brought up. Mrs. Jones is adamant that she does not want to go into a nursing home and spend her money. Nursing home costs can be around $7,000 a month and deplete savings quickly. Home care costs are lower but still significant without insurance assistance. Mrs. Jones opts to stay home with family assistance.

Mrs. Jones would not be able to access her Medicare benefit, which does cover the first 20 days at 100 percent, with a qualifying hospital stay. Mrs. Jones’ trip to the ER would not allow access to benefits. Mrs. Jones is at home for now with her family helping with food, laundry, and bathing. Mrs. Jones is happy about the increased attention from her children but is anxious to get back to her normal routine.

Many older Americans see this process as the Devil and become anxious when discussing or planning. We are here to take “the Devil” out of the process and de-mystify long-term care, all while assisting consumers with real answers and options to navigate the system. Next month we will revisit Mrs. Jones’ story and follow her through the next step of her journey.

Christopher Stieben is Director of the ABLE Long-Term-Care-Ombudsman Program, which can be reached at 419-259-2891 (, and Megan Benner Senecal is a member of the Ombudsman office.