Planning in the new year is second nature to most of us. Whether you are creating resolutions, setting goals, or simply want to spend more time with your loved ones, you may find yourself and your senior loved ones planning for the future right now. We know right now in our family we are deciding what is most important for us to finish this year, which includes both projects from last year and ideas for the future of our family.
Often, we find that as we age, life gets a bit more complicated. These complications may include retirement, concern over how to best age in place or new health care diagnoses. We can all agree that things, especially health care, tend to get more expensive each year. This reality makes wisely creating New Year’s resolutions and finding a way to plan forward even more important.
Unfortunately for Older Americans and their loved ones, the cost of long-term care can only be expected to rise in the future. A recent report shared that not only did the cost of a skilled nursing facility increase by over five percent from the past year, the overall cost of care has increased by fifty percent since 2004. We find that many of our clients, friends, and family members are asking the question, how can I prepare myself to afford the care that I could need in the future? As we enter the new year together, let us offer a few recommendations.
- Not all long-term care is the same!
Many Older Americans do not realize that not all long-term care is the same. There is a misconception that long-term care only applies to a “nursing home” and often our senior clients and their loved ones begin the conversation by telling us they do not want to “end up” residing there.
In fact, there are many types of long-term care available in a myriad of different settings. Here are two good examples. Two seniors live next door to each other. The first is an eighty-eight year old senior who may actually need twenty-four hour care because he or she cannot manage his or her activities of daily living. The second, who is a seventy-five year old senior, might only need help with light housework and grocery shopping during the week.
In the first example, the senior would most likely need to reside in a skilled nursing facility to meet his or her needs while, in the latter scenario, the senior would most likely be able to live alone with a few hours of home health care each week. Both examples deal with long-term care costs. The key is to start identifying the types of long-term care that are needed and available.
- Research the costs of long-term care in your community.
Do not wait to research the cost of care right here in California. Unfortunately, most of the Older Americans we speak with and their loved one are under the mistaken assumption that Medicare will cover the majority of their long-term care needs. Medicare is not designed to help with long-term care costs! While it may pay in short intervals to help with the needs of the recipient, Medicare is designed to be an acute care system and will not pay the ongoing costs of necessary long-term care. Do not wait to get a head start on learning the costs of long-term care in our state by using this Costs of Care Calculator from the AARP.
- Discuss your concerns with a lawyer who understands the needs of Older Americans.
While there are many lawyers right here in Orange County and Southern California, not all of them focus on the needs of aging Americans. This is a unique niche within both the estate planning and elder law areas of law. It is important for you to speak with an elder law attorney who can understand where you are right now, but also work with you and your loved ones to develop a plan for next year, the year after, and in the future. You need to be ready to discuss your goals for your care, your person, your family, and your legacy so that you can develop the right long-term care plan for you.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. It is not easy to plan forward for a future that involves addressing long-term care needs. We encourage you to find the answers you need this year and create a plan that will protect both you and your loved ones.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and passionate about educating his community about estate planning, elder law, and how to protect what matters most – family, assets, and legacy.