Long term care (LTC) covers a variety of services to support the medical and non-medical needs of individuals who are unable to care for themselves over an extended time period. It is a highly individualized care system that can be provided formally—by an institution—or informally. Institutions providing long term care are known by various names such as residential continuing care facility, assisted living facility, personal care facility and nursing home. Informal long term care is often provided, in its earlier stages, by a family member who provides personal care, meals, laundry services, housekeeping, and transportation services to a parent or senior loved one.
Family care providers are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” – individuals who support their own children while caring for aging parents. The stress of providing practical living arrangements, emotional care, and financial support for two sets of generations as well as themselves will eventually overwhelm even the most dedicated family care provider. Consequently, at some point institutionalized LTC must be considered.
When the time comes for your parent to be placed in a formal long term care arrangement things can get complicated very quickly. If a parent has not planned for his or her own aging process finding the right facility that accepts their healthcare coverage can be daunting. If a parent has very little income and assets, they may be able to qualify for Medicaid. However, because Medicaid has strict income and asset requirements, this can leave the spouse at home with very little to live on.
Conversely, if a parent is financially stable, then it may be possible to cover the monthly costs for a quality health care facility, at least initially. However, years of paying thousands of dollars a month can severely impact the parent or senior’s savings and ability to leave a legacy to their children.
Long term care is becoming increasingly more expensive and less accessible as the aging baby boomer population continues to put a strain on the US health care system. Now is the time to engage your parents in discussions about the type of long term care they would want, including where they want to receive the care, and how it should be paid for.
Engaging an elder law attorney to help you make longterm care decisions for your parents and seniors is a must. An experienced elder law attorney will help you navigate through the Medicaid eligibility process and–through legal planning strategies–may be able to protect more assets for the parent who remains at home. An elder law attorney will also be able to develop a plan that allows your parent or senior to pay for longterm care and still leave a legacy for his/her children and family members. And importantly, the attorney will see to it that your aging loved ones properly and legally designate the persons who are authorized to make financial and health care decisions for them when they are unable to do so.
We would be happy to help you and your family establish a plan to ensure that your parents and seniors get the best care possible without losing their life savings.
Please contact us at 678-319-0100.