Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

More on Long‑term Care

It is important for people engaged in planning for their senior years to understand the difference in the types of long-term care that are needed or are available.

Most think of long term care as nursing home care.  In some instances this is true.  This type of care is Skilled Nursing Home Care.  It means that the individual is unable to meet and care for certain life activities and skills.  This is the type of care that is covered by long term care insurance and once an individual qualifies by Medicaid.

There is, however, often a gap between the elderly individual who is able to reside in his or her home independently and the need for skilled nursing care.  This is assisted care.  In such a circumstance, the individual moves into an assisted living situation which may be similar to an apartment like setting.  Certain of his or her needs are taken care of, however, he or she is relatively independent.

This type of living is NOT covered by insurance.  Neither long term care insurance nor Medicaid covers this type of care.

This distinction is very important.  It is a circumstance that should be carefully discussed by the entire family when the time comes for planning.  If an individual is no longer able to live independently but is not eligible for long term nursing care, where is he or she to live?  Most importantly, if the assets and income of the individual are limited, who will pay for this care?

This is a gap that catches many people by surprise and unaware.

Planning for Long Term Care

Many clients go to great lengths to have a solid estate plan and a very well thought out financial plan.  They do not, however, consider the affect that long term care could have upon their plans.

First, everyone should have a plan.  That may not mean that you have insurance, but it does mean that you discuss your preferences with your family.  You may hope that one of your children will assist you when the time comes that you are unable to care for yourself.

You need to have a discussion with your children concerning this issue.  While many children would prefer not to place their aging parents into a nursing home, they may not have any alternative.  For some families, parents with medical needs come at the same time as children are going to college.  This can financially strap a family so that a child cannot cut back on work to care for their parent.

Another difficulty can be distance.  If you do not live in the same city as your children do, it will make caring for you difficult if you desire to remain in your home.

If one of your children is agreeable to providing care for you when you are declining, it is important to discuss this with the entire family.  How will this work?  Will the care giving child be given a stipend to offset the time and energy that they are devoting to this task?  Will there be a monthly allowance made for food and costs?  If these matters are not discussed in advance, it can become a sore point later.

If care at a child’s home is not possible, do you have sufficient assets for nursing home care?  If you are married, will this impoverish the survivor?  If these are concerns, then you should consult a long term care insurance specialist to determine whether the cost of long term care insurance is a possibility.

The plan for each individual may be different.  The need to plan is important for everyone.