The Challenges of Placing a Parent in Long Term Care

Elder Care Assisted Living Nursing Home Hospice Headlines 3d IllustrationLong term care (LTC) is a term that has many facets to its definition. It is comprised of a variety of services that meet medical and non-medical requirements for people who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time. It is a highly individualized care system which can be formally or informally provided. Formal facilities that provide long term care go by various names such as residential continuing care facility, nursing home, and personal care facility. Informal long term care is often provided, in its earlier stages, by a family member who is willing to provide their parent personal care, meals, laundry services, housekeeping, and transportation services to and from appointments.

These informal care providers are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” – those people who support their own children while at the same time care for aging parents. The stress of providing practical living and emotional care as well as financial support for two sets of generations, as well as themselves, can become overwhelming and have negative effects on the provider’s self-care and well being. It is a difficult decision to make but at some point formal LTC becomes a necessity for some parents.

When the time comes for your parent to be placed in a formal long term care arrangement things can get complicated very quickly. If a parent has not planned for their own aging process finding the right facility that accepts their healthcare coverage can be daunting. If a parent has very little income and assets, they may be able to qualify for Medicaid. However, because Medicaid has strict income and asset requirements, this can leave the spouse at home with very little to live on.  It is important to engage an elder law attorney to help make a decision about Medicaid eligibility. An elder law attorney may be able to protect more assets for the parent who remains at home through legal planning strategies.

Conversely, if a parent is very financially stable, then it may be possible to pay thousands of dollars a month to a quality health care facility. However, years of paying thousands of dollars a month can severely impact their savings and ability to leave a legacy to their children.  With proper legal advice, a plan to pay for care without losing everything is possible.

What of those parents who are financially stuck in between? It is another type of sandwich, the “financial sandwich” – seniors not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but not wealthy enough to cover their own costs. There are still options available to those who fall into this category. It is never too late (or too soon) to talk to an elder law attorney about options to find and pay for long term care.

Long term care is becoming more expensive and less accessible as the increasing baby boomer population continues to put a strain on the US health care system. Now is the time to engage your parents in discussions about the type of care they would want if long term care is needed, including where they want to receive the care, and how it should be paid for. It’s important to document your parent’s wishes in appropriate legal documents that name an agent to make decisions if your parents are unable to. We would be happy to help you and your family navigate these issues and come up with a plan to make sure your parents get the best care possible without losing their life savings. Please call us at 267-288-5765 to schedule an appointment.

Aging is a Success Story

Senior couple on cycle rideAging is the sign of a successful life. After all, when you think about the alternative to aging your perspective about getting older shifts. You should start seeking self-sufficiency for your retirement years well before the age of sixty-five. But, even if you have not done so, don’t shun the planning stages. You need to address planning no matter what your age. Some preparation is better than none at all. It can provide you with some peace of mind and can take pressure off of family members who would have to make their own income adjustments to be able to provide money to support your cost of living. No one wants to become a burden to their children or otherwise extended family. It feels good to be able to provide for oneself (and one’s spouse) no matter how lavishly or modestly. It is a relief to know that you have solid plans as well as contingency plans for the future. Although it can be hard work and tough to realize how much it will take to cover your future living expenses, putting off the planning stage does not lead to easier or better outcomes.

First of all, consider your location. Many seniors prefer the idea of living out their lives in their own home but there is much to consider about that approach. Are you close to family members or someone willing to help drive you to doctor appointments and grocery stores when you are no longer able? Can your home accommodate a wheel chair; is there a bedroom on the first floor or is there a way to get up and down the stairs? How expensive are the property taxes in your area? How mild is the weather? If you want to go to a retirement community, what locations are most affordable as well as most desirable? How would you transition to less independent living over time?

Once you know your location goals, do some worst-case planning. Adverse health and unforeseen life events can ravage your finances unless you are already managing a sizeable sum of assets or have incorporated proper planning. You might look for advice as to how to turn a nest egg into retirement income, or how to add to your long-term insurance care, or to establish some long-term insurance care. Think particularly about in-home care should your goal be to stay in your own home as you age.

You need to know if your state has approved the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, a joint federal-state policy initiative to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. A professional can explain to you how it can protect some of your assets if you would require extensive care in the future, for instance for Alzheimer’s disease, which could potentially exhaust your private insurance policy benefits and require you to apply for Medicaid. A professional can also advise you if there are any federal or state tax incentives available to you for long-term care partnership insurance. You can also discuss implementing some additional life insurance that can remain in force until you are eighty. It can help a spouse with extra money should something happen to you. In the meantime, both of you could sleep better at night knowing the insurance policy is in place. The point is, you need to examine some potential worst case expenditure scenarios and how you would be able to meet the needs of your care should the moment arise.

Your aging is a success story. Embrace how you prepare for your senior years no matter what your age is, and the sooner the better! Retirement requires careful thought, planning and decision making for the best outcome possible for you and your loved ones.

Contact our office today at 267-288-5765 to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Make Sure Your Wishes Are Carried Out

Cute 80 plus year old married couple posing for a portrait in their house. Love forever concept.The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Frances.

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Senior Housing Trends in 2018 and Beyond

2018 TrendsMarkets driven by the consumerism of the baby boom generation are changing senior living, and there are more options available than ever before. Medical and technological advancements and a shift to a more customized, individual lifestyle preference are leading the way for seniors to age more securely and comfortably. Senior communities are looking less like institutions and more like homes. Infusing technology with medical support in assisting seniors is a giant step forward in reshaping the way people provide care and when necessary intervention.

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