Planning Forward for Your Needs and Those You Care for During National Long-Term Care Month
Have you given any thought to planning forward to prepare for a future that may include the need for long-term care for yourself or your aging loved ones? According to research, less than half of all adults in America have completed their estate planning. Most of us do not want to think about a time when we cannot live independently in our own homes, free of mobility and cognitive challenges, so it is no surprise that most of us have not made any plans for short term or long-term disability coupled with the potential need to live in a nursing home.
Are you aware that because most of us are living longer health care costs are increasing and there is a lack of government resources to fund our long-term care, if we need it? Therefore it is important for us to find a way to both identify the right long-term care support for our own unique needs and for those we care about. In addition, we have to plan forward to find a way to pay for the care we may potentially need. Preparing for your future and the future of those you care about is one of the reasons why National Long-Term Care Planning Month was created in the 1970s. We have chosen to focus on it today to make sure you are well armed with the information you and those you care for need to age wisely and well.
When talking about well resourced information, unfortunately, many Americans mistakenly believe that the Medicare system will pay for the cost of long-term care, but that is not the case. Medicare is an acute payor system, therefore, it will only cover part of the cost of care on a short term basis. That means it will cover a hospital stay when you need to have surgery, part of your doctor’s bill, and a brief rehabilitative stay in a rehabilitation center or nursing home. However, it will not pay for long-term care or custodial care when you are not able to improve over time or need round the clock care based on your physical or cognitive needs.
Now that you are equipped with all this information, how do you pay for long-term care? Let us share some pointers you will need for your research as you begin to be sure you and your loved ones are protected in the future.
1. You need to have a baseline of your health in place to understand your health care needs. Take stock of your overall health, and the health of those you care about, to understand where you are right now and how to plan for long-term care if it is needed in the future. Your needs are unique to you. If you have preexisting conditions, could they affect your health now or in the future? Have you recently had a new diagnosis that could lead to future disability? Are there physical or cognitive issues you know about but have not wanted to plan for?
2. Will you be able to pay for your own care? The average cost of care in your own home begins, in most states, at $4,500 per month while the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $9,000. It does depend on where you live and you can learn more about the options in your specific zip code using the Genworth Cost of Care Study by clicking this link. Think seriously, do you have the money right now, to pay for this care while still maintaining your home, your existing expenses, and ensuring your spouse and children are not impoverished? Probably not, so you need to begin planning as soon as possible.
3. Long-term care is a conversation to have with your entire family. Were you hoping a member of your family could care for you? Were you hoping to care for your own family members? In most cases, many people do not have family members who could stop a job to care for a family member who needs long-term care or who have the training to provide this care. That is why it is so important to begin the conversation with your family now. Everyone in the family needs to know and agree to how long-term care is going to be handled.
4. Find out what public benefits you or those you care about could be eligible for. Now is the time to research any and all state and federal programs that could help you pay for long-term care. Qualification for these programs is based on both your healthcare needs and your financial resources. For example, one program you may have heard of is the Medicaid program. If you qualify for Medicaid, much of the monthly burden of paying for long-term care by you and your family may be reduced.
5. Most importantly, meet with an experienced Florida elder law attorney. Your elder law attorney will be able to guide you through the complex maze of long-term care planning. Your attorney will understand your unique situation and be able to provide a plan to not only find the right care for you but identify ways to pay for it. Because you have begun preparing for your future early there are often more planning options available to you and your attorney. That being said, there are steps that can be taken in a crisis, however, the earlier you can make a plan and implement it, the better.
We know this topic may raise more questions than it answers. The long-term care conversation is a serious one and one that you should have sooner, rather than later, so you are able to take advantage of the planning opportunities available to you. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting. To learn more about Meloro Law and how we can help you when you need legal representation for estate planning or elder law issues do not wait to call us today.