Facts About Senior Care

So few of us plan for our long term care, yet the majority of us will need to avail ourselves of professional senior care at some point in our lives. By 2030, the U.S. population aged 65+ will exceed 70 million. According to the American Geriatrics Society, the vast majority of these older persons will have at least one chronic disease, and substantial numbers need assistance in performing basic and more advanced activities of daily living

There are a variety of professional senior care options to choose from, based on need and cost. Most seniors prefer to age-in-place, at home. If there is no family member to care for them, many times professional in-home care, provided by a trusted Home Care Agency is the go-to option. Residential options include Independent and Assisted Living Communities, and nursing homes. Nursing home costs vary widely based upon the state in which you live.

Our good friend, colleague, and elder law expert Ben Neiburger writes about the five key facts of long-term care.

1. Statistics
Nearly 41% of people under 65 and approximately 70% of people who live to age 65 will need some type of long-term care.
2. Medicare
Medicare covers skilled short-term medical care as well as short-term assistance with nursing home costs, but only if the circumstances meet strict requirements. However in most situations, this is simply not a viable long-term care option for most people.
3. Medicaid
Medicaid is a state-based program supplemented by Federal funds that provide health services to the poor and impoverished. Medicaid might cover your loved one, if he or she meets your state’s poverty criteria.
Many people attempt to spend down their assets to state-required levels or transfer their assets to family members to become eligible for Medicaid, but the state has the right to look back into your finances for 5 years before the date you apply for coverage, and may refuse to pay for your long-term care if you don’t handle your money “appropriately” during those 5 years.
4. Nursing Homes and other Long Term Care
Both Medicare and health insurance are intended to cover skilled, short-term medical care as you recover from an illness or injury—NOT long-term care. That means a health insurance policy rarely covers ongoing long-term care, especially if one is over 65.
5. Private Pay
Personal savings are one way to cover long-term care expenses. Keep in mind however, that in 2011, the national average annual cost of long-term care services in a semi-private nursing home room was $75,555. Since the average length of stay in a nursing home is 2.4 years, that would come to approximately $181,000 out of your savings.

We now know that, due to the longevity of our nation’s population, most of us will indeed need long-term care. Seniors once relied upon family members for elder care, and while there are many, many family caregivers (43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age), many seniors will need to look to professional caregivers for their senior care needs.

Ways to pay for care that don’t include Medicare, Medicaid, or private pay includes long-term care insurance and reverse mortgages. Be vigilant in your research, however. Some long-term care insurance pays only for nursing homes and not for in-home senior care.
A reverse mortgage has its own pitfalls, making it an option of last resort.

U.S. veterans may be eligible for Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Benefit. For this benefit, you’ll need to apply and be persistent and patient. Those wheels tend to grind slowly.

Caregiverlist® understands the process involved in finding the right senior care can be arduous. Estate planning can assist you in determining your best options in how to pay for professional senior care for you or your senior family member.  

Ben Neiburger is an active member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and through frequent speaking engagements and ongoing course work both locally and nationally, is in continuous pursuit of knowledge and insight to the laws and finances that affect our families and senior citizens. He brings this wealth of knowledge, his clear and common sense explanations, his patience, gentle humor and sensitivity to each of his legal consultations.To learn more about Elder Law, visit generationlaw.com.

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