With an aging population and financial and medical systems that seem to get more confusing each year, it can be difficult to make sense of getting older. An Elder Law attorney can assist you with navigating the complicated systems surrounding aging and long-term care.
Elder Law planning should account for your current and potential care needs and how to pay for them. Your resources, family structure, and preferred care setting are important aspects to discuss during the planning process.
Some older adults can rely on family members or other caregivers to perform small assistance tasks, but people without family or with more severe medical concerns may need to relocate to community-based long-term care facilities.
A few popular options are remaining in your home or relocating to an assisted-living facility. Another option, in-home caregiving, is where a caregiver goes to your home to assist with the activities of daily living, including bathing, hygiene, dressing, mobility, transfers, and cognition. Caregivers can include family members, independently hired home-care workers, and in-home care agencies.
Long-term care facilities (nursing homes) also provide care and assistance with the activities of daily living, but the staff is present during the night to respond to issues more quickly. To receive care in a nursing facility, you typically would qualify if you were unable to do the activities of daily living by yourself.
Memory care facilities, or residential-care facilities, are for people with cognitive deficits. They have locked units to prevent elopement, activities appropriate for memory decline, and more supervision than other community-based care settings. The interior layout of the locations is also designed to accommodate residents’ needs.
Elder law attorneys will consider how you can meet the rising costs of caregiving. How early you start planning may impact your options and how your future needs may be funded. Some options are long-term care insurance policies, utilizing your income and assets to pay privately or Medicaid.
Paying privately for in-home care or long-term care facilities can be expensive, but it’s the least complicated method because it does not rely on filing a Medicaid application with your state.
Long-term care and life insurance policies may be available, but they become less viable options as you age. Long-term care insurance that can cover care expenses later may have premiums of thousands of dollars per year, and it needs to be purchased when you’re healthy. Certain life insurance policies may be amended to help finance in-home care, adult foster homes, assisted living, and nursing facilities. Beginning those plans early — even before retirement — may minimize the pressure of paying for care.
Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs have programs for qualifying individuals that can help pay for long-term care. An elder law attorney can help determine whether you are eligible for either program, discuss strategies for spending, advise whether it is in your best interest to apply, and help with the application process.
Medicaid may be able to serve as a partial funding mechanism even if you have significant resources available. A couple’s resources are assessed together to determine how much a spouse can keep. Some of your income could also be diverted to your spouse to help pay for living expenses, which will reduce how much you pay for monthly care supplemented by Medicaid.
When you or your spouse pass away, if you were receiving Medicaid, the government may have a claim on your estate and may collect some or all of what it paid for care. There are many aspects to this process called “estate recovery.”
It’s never too early to seek the counsel of an elder law attorney. Planning your affairs — even before retirement — can save years of headaches. PUT LANGUAGE IN HER TO GIVE OUR OFFICE A CALL OR SOMETHING.