If you talk to any competent eldercare professional, they will stress that pre-planning is the key to making good choices when it comes to long term care. Unfortunately, what generally happens is that family members wait until a crisis occurs, and then, naturally, fast actions lead to hasty, poorly planned decision making.
Now is a good time to take inventory of some of the things you might be faced with when it comes to care options for a family member or yourself.
Make important long term care decisions now, while you can. Pre-Planning is Key.
We recommend the following when working on your long term care pre-planning.
Work with an elder law attorney and financial professionals. It will cost you a little money up front but will be money well spent when it saves your loved one’s time, money, stress, and heartache if/when the time comes to put your plans and wishes into action.
Take the time to research and understand the resources in your area. Senior housing, community centers, and financial assistance are much easier to access if you understand beforehand the application processes and requirements to receive useful benefits.
Notify key people of your decisions. If you assign a power of attorney, for example, it is imperative that your representative understands what your wishes are. The same holds true for financial, medical and end of life decisions.
Preparing for retirement is one thing, planning to pay for senior care is another subject itself. As reported by Genworth, the annual cost of home care in 2015 is $44,616 (based on 44 hours/week), assisted living $43,200, and nursing home care is $80,300. If those numbers are giving you heart palpitations, you aren’t alone. Take the time to understand the following government programs that may be able to help pay for the cost of senior care. Remember, qualifying for programs like Medicaid and VA benefits do not happen quickly in many cases. Research these programs before a crisis.
Medicare: Medicare does not pay for any long-term care. It does pay for short term rehabilitation if specific criteria are met. Many clients I have worked with in the past were very misinformed or misunderstood the limits of Medicare benefits when it came to paying for senior care. Medicare.gov does a great job of explaining what is covered under Medicare benefits.
Medicaid: Medicaid is a federal program, but benefits are administered by each state and vary widely in criteria to qualify. Generally speaking, Medicaid will cover the cost of long term care in certain settings if specific health and financial conditions are met.
VA: The VA offers a variety of long term benefits to veterans and their spouses, again if certain criteria are met. You can find specific information on the VA website about the programs, benefits, and pension options available. My experience with a family member was that it took 9 months for her application to be approved, so plan ahead.