Aging Commission offers help for seniors who need nursing homes

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Even walking up to her South Memphis home can be a struggle for Mary Gatewood. The lawn is overgrown, and the only way on to the porch is to take the steps.

Her daughter-in-law says she pays $550 a month to rent a room in a boarding house on East McLemore.

“You can’t take a bath in the room,” the 69-year-old grandmother said.

She can’t take a bath because there’s only a shower and no tub.

Mary also has trouble balancing.

“She’s not able to live on her own, even though she wants to,” her daughter-in-law Sandra Gatewood said.

Her family is worried.

They want to find a nursing home, but Gatewood is on a fixed income of $750 a month.

“Everywhere me and my husband call she don’t make enough money for,” Sandra said.

“Nursing homes can cost anywhere from the Medicaid rate or up to $6,000 to $10,000 a month,” said Shirley Bondon with the Aging Commission of the Mid-South.

She knows how families struggle with this and said the commission offers free consultations to help.

“The in-home assessment determines if they qualify for CHOICES: Tennessee’s Medicaid program. It can provide in-home care but also nursing home care if they meet qualifications,” Bondon said.

She said anyone can call them and request the assessment; people like Gatewood may qualify if they show they can’t take care or provide for themselves.

“You’re not mobile, you can’t move, you’re incontinent, you can’t bathe yourself,” Bondon said.

“She needs dependent living because she’s not independent. She wants to be but she not,” Sandra Gatewood said of her mother-in-law.

For someone like Gatewood, calling the Aging Commission could be the phone call that leads the way out of a boarding house with no air conditioning and into a better way to live out her life.

If you want to get help with a free consultation, contact the Commission at 901-222-4111.

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