Your concern and challenge are very common. Alzheimers is a cruel disease which makes both the ill spouse and their entire families suffer. Although the law differs state to state I believe that every state allows an ill spouse to qualify for nursing home publich benefits without their house being sold during the lifetime of the well spouse. Your state may cap the amount of equity in your house that you are allowed -- but usually this cap is more than the average home is worth. Unfortunately, unless you take certain steps in advance the State will claim against your home after you pass away. A good elder law attorney in your area can guide you as to what can be done to protect your home from later government claims. Although you feel you do not have enough money to pay for your wife's nursing home care -- you may have more than your state allows you to have while your wife is receiving state benefits. The limits vary state to state with a high a bit over $100,000 and a low of about $30,000 for a well spouse.
One often overlooked possiblity is whether you might qualify for Wartime Veteran's benefits to help pay for her care at home. Qualifying for spousal Veterean's benefits can be trickier than in nursing home benefits, but again a good local Eldercare attorney can help you. If your only asset other than monthly social security or modest pension is your home -- a local veteran's service organization may be able to help you with the VA paperwork. In most cases the fee charged by an Elderlaw attorney with experience in these areas is well worth it. A slip up in pre-application positioning or in application paperwork can cost you months and months of benefits.
If you are unable to find an experienced elderlaw attorney in your area either on Avvo or on your own I do know of a firm in Boise (I'm not sure how far that is from Lewiston) who probably could assist you or steer you to a reputable firm closer to you.
Very truly yours,
Joel S. Weissler
Attorney at law
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