One of the most common planning concerns that advisors hear raised by their clients is the prospect of providing care for their parents or other elderly family members. If you face that possibility, here are some thoughts that may assist in the discussion with your family and advisors:
1. Watch for signs that care is needed
Generally speaking, some form of professional, long-term care is warranted for people who are unable to perform two of the six “activities of daily living” (eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, continence, and transferring out of bed). It also is warranted for those who have a cognitive impairment that might make them a danger to themselves or others.
2. Know the options
Obviously, one option for providing care to an elderly family member who needs it is for other family members – perhaps you – to do so. Other available options include: at-home care by a professional nurse or other practitioner; adult day care, a drop-off/pick-up option that can include health and social services; an assisted living facility, which can provide few or many on-site support and nursing services; and a nursing home, which provides the broadest range of skilled care resources, 24 hours a day.
3. Understand the potential cost
If you are curious about the average cost of care options, check out the data provided by Genworth (one of the leading long-term care insurance companies).1 Each year, Genworth sponsors a survey of more than 15,000 care providers around the country. You can find out the average cost of each type of care in your area by clicking on your state on the Genworth site, then selecting your city or region in a drop-down list.
4. Take advantage of Medicare
Medicare Part A provides financial support to covered individuals who require skilled care after a minimum of three days of hospitalization. It can cover care provided in a facility with a semi-private room and reimburse 100% of the cost of skilled care for the first 20 days and up to an annually-adjusted daily maximum for the next 80 days. You can learn more at www.medicare.gov.2
5. Discuss Medicaid eligibility with an elder care attorney
Eligibility for Medicaid support for long-term care needs is dictated by state law, but generally speaking it is limited to those age 65 or older who have very low annual income and few personal assets, or who incur a cost of care so high that their income and assets can’t cover it. If you believe a family member could be eligible for Medicaid assistance when long term care is needed, consult with a qualified elder care attorney in your area to discuss strategies that should be put in place beforehand to help ensure eligibility.
Advanced planning can go a long way toward ensuring that your family member receives the skilled care they may require with the smallest potential impact on the family’s estate.