“Long-term care” refers to those services and supports that help persons perform everyday tasks and personal care needs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 70% of people who reach age 65 will need some form of long-term care during their lives.
Everyday tasks, also referred to as “instrumental activities of daily living”, are such things as cooking, cleaning, driving, managing money, taking medication, using appliances and responding to emergencies, such as fire alarms. Persons who need help with these tasks can no longer live independently. If family caregivers are not available to meet these needs caregivers must be hired, often at great expense. Assisted living facilities (in Pennsylvania these are referred to as “personal care homes”) typically cost $5,000 – $9,000 per month. Home health care through private aides can be just as expensive. Medicare and private health insurance don’t pay for long-term care.
Personal Care Needs
For many, successfully meeting the challenges of getting help with and paying for everyday tasks is not the end of the story. The inevitable aging process is often accompanied by the onset of severe chronic medical conditions. This results in increased physical and or cognitive impairment such that substantial assistance becomes necessary to perform personal care needs, referred to as “activities of daily living”. These include bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring (for example, moving from bed to chair), and ambulating (moving about). Assisted living facilities are not equipped to care for persons who require substantial assistance with multiple activities of daily living. These are the people who populate our nursing homes, technically referred to as “skilled nursing facilities”. Nursing homes in Pennsylvania typically cost $11,000 – $15,000 per month. Consequently, families with loved ones who require nursing home care face financial devastation.
Paying for Long-Term Care
Proper retirement and estate planning takes into account the possibility of needing long-term care. Life insurance that can convert a death benefit to lifetime payments, so-called “hybrids”, long-term care insurance, and certain kinds of annuities all pay for long-term care. Unfortunately, financial products are often not enough or not available to be purchased when needed. Medicaid does pay without any time limits or dollar caps. But impoverishment is the price of admission into the Medicaid program. Fortunately, legal measures implemented by a qualified elder law attorney can achieve Medicaid eligibility while protecting one’s retirement nest-egg for spouse and family.
Want to learn more about how to plan for long-term care and the legal measures available to protect your nest-egg from financially-ruinous long-term care costs? Ask the lawyers at Vasiliadis Pappas for a free copy of their consumer guide How to Protect Your Home and Savings and Pay For Quality Long-Term Care as You Age.