Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include finding suitable senior housing, which often includes home care options or institutionalized care. Other aspects of Elder law include guardianships, healthcare documents, as well as planning for government assistance through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
As our population ages, more and more of us confront Elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, only then can they qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.
Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify. Furthermore, to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid additional planning may be required.
Medicaid is a division of Social Security. It is a federally funded, but state administered, program designed to provide care to those 65 and older who are medically and financially eligible. Medicaid is a needs-based system that pays the cost of nursing home and/or in-home care for those who cannot pay for themselves.
Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid programs available, from in-home care options to nursing home programs.
The Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs provides a wealth of information for seniors and care givers.
We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid eligibility is appropriate.
Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.
Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that what has been home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime's accumulation of "stuff."
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
If you have a question, a comment, or simply want to have a conversation and explore how we can help, we'd love to hear from you.
Legacy Counsellors, P.C.
117 Pleasant Street
Easthampton, MA 01027
699 Bloomfield Avenue
Bloomfield, CT 06002