Monthly Archives: April 2012

Will the Government Pay for My Long Term Care?

A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that “people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home.  About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more. This year, about nine million men and women over the age of 65 will need eldercare. By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need eldercare.  Most will be cared for at home; with family and friends as the sole caregivers for 70 percent of the elderly”. Medicare.gov

A new population of seniors and those nearing the senior status are looking for some type of financial means to pay for long term care (eldercare) in case of failing health.  Many have taken care of family members who had no means to pay for their care or have seen their parents entire retirement savings wiped out because of medical and nursing home costs.

Does the government Medicare program pay for eldercare costs?

A statement on the Medicare.gov website clarifies what Medicare will pay for.

“Generally, Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. Medicare pays only for medically necessary skilled nursing facility or home health care. However, you must meet certain conditions for Medicare to pay for these types of care. Most long-term care is to assist people with support services such as activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Medicare doesn’t pay for this type of care called “custodial care”. Custodial care (non-skilled care) is care that helps you with activities of daily living. It may also include care that most people do for themselves, for example, diabetes monitoring. Some Medicare Advantage Plans (formerly Medicare + Choice) may offer limited skilled nursing facility and home care (skilled care) coverage if the care is medically necessary.”

How does Medicaid cover long term care costs?

Fortunately, there is a government program that will help pay for long term care costs – Medicaid.  Unfortunately, this program is unfairly discriminatory and will only pay for care for individuals who have less than $1,500 to $2,000 in assets (and in about 22 states, the program will only cover individuals who fall below a certain income threshold).  All other individuals wanting help from Medicaid must impoverish themselves paying for their own eldercare services first, before Medicaid will help them.

Planning for the final years of life and dovetailing government programs, care provider systems and funding sources can be invaluable yet complicated.  This area of planning can be one of the most challenging endeavors undertaken by anyone attempting to help seniors in this final phase of life.

The National Care Planning Council has introduced a new long term care planning tool called “Care Resource Planning.”  It is impossible to predict what your future eldercare needs will be.  You cannot determine in advance if you will need home care, assisted living or even nursing home care, but you can have a plan in place that will provide the financial, legal and family support as well as protecting your assets, no matter what happens.

The goal of Care Resource Planning is to provide strategies and solutions pertaining to any or all of the items outlined below that may be unique to the client’s situation.

1.  Understand and Use Eldercare Support Systems

  • Objective 1 — Understand the Nature of Eldercare
  • Objective 2 — Understand Living Arrangements for Eldercare
  • Objective 3 — Understand How to Use the Life Resource Planning Team

2.  Identify Sources of Final Years Funding and Services

  • Objective 4 — Identify Programs to Increase Income
  • Objective 5 — Identify Government Programs to Pay Costs
  • Objective 6 — Understand and Use Community Aging Support Services

3.  Protect the Estate from Depletion

  • Objective 7 — Understand Strategies to Protect Assets
  • Objective 8 — Review and Update Legal Arrangements and Insurance
  • Objective 9 — Identify Tax Saving Strategies

With the help of a trained professionals who understand all of the issues pertaining to eldercare, a plan can be prepared to protect assets, locate appropriate funding and provide the necessary support to ease the burden for the final years of life.

For more information on Care Resource Planning for yourself or loved one please visit www.longtermcarelink.net/care_resource_plan.htm

Many professionals use our Care Resource Planning System to help their senior clients create a plan for their long term care. If you advise seniors and would like to include Care Resource Planning (a fee based planning system) as part of your services, click here to learn more.

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Forgotten and Tossed Aside (Neglect of the Elderly)

About forty years ago, there was a story told about an elderly woman who lived alone and waited everyday for her son to write her. She kept telling herself, “Tomorrow I will get a letter from him.” Then tomorrow came along with an empty mailbox. She loved her son though, and she would never lose hope.

One day as she feebly opened the mailbox, she was surprised by a letter inside. She hurriedly began to make her way back inside her house to read the letter when she had a heart attack. A neighbor rushed to her aid as the elderly woman smiled and said just before she died, “My son sent me a letter. I knew he would.”

The neighbor then opened the letter to see what the son had written to his mother. The son had not written that he loved her or that he missed her. The letter contained only information about the date on which the son was planning to send his mother to a nursing home so she wouldn’t have to live alone anymore.

The co-owner of the National Care Planning Council said, “Children grow up and parents grow down. As parents age they lose their ability to think and act as well as they did before. Some children are nice about it and stay and help their parents through it while others just abandon them.”

In the story told, it was easy for the son to keep himself emotionally distant and caught up in his own life. It was simple for him to decide to toss his mother in a nursing home to save her from the loneliness he had himself caused. The tragedy is, it would have been just as simple and just as easy to write his mother just one letter once a month expressing his love for her.

Many rumors are spread about the difficulties of being a family caregiver and most of them are true. Sometimes rather than face the stress and pain of caring for our aging parents, it seems the better option to seek out a nursing home. Every situation is unique and there is not one solution that works for everyone. Though you may be unable to care for your parents at home, you must never allow their absence from your immediate life to lead to neglect.

The love between parent and child should not diminish as years pass. Though your elderly parents may not be a constant presence in your everyday life, they cannot be forgotten or tossed aside. There are many difficult decisions that must be made as a parent ages, and many elderly lack the ability to make these decisions on their own.

How can you expect to make the best decision concerning your loved one’s future if you are not an active presence in their lives? Elderly parents miss their children when they find themselves alone in an empty house. Children, however, are caught up in their busy lives and may find it easy to forget their parents.

Make a point to visit your elderly parents regularly or at least send them a letter or email once a month. It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. As they approach their elderly years, what your parents really need is to feel the support and love of their children.

Our parents raised us and protected us when we were small and vulnerable. Now that the roles have been reversed it is time for us to provide shelter and love to our aging parents. We may not have hours each day to devote to their care, but we always have a few extra minutes to let them know that they have not been forgotten. Skip the coffee one morning and make a quick phone call to your father or mother. Don’t delay telling them ‘I love you’ because you never how much time they have left.

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