As an active senior living in your own home have you ever thought about how you would pay for long term care when and if you needed it? If you are like many Americans you probably have not thought about how you would pay for a future that might include the need for long term care. Not being able to live independently in your own home, free of mobility and cognitive challenges is not a reality that you may want to face or even to plan for. The truth is, though, when you consider that less than half of all Americans today have completed their estate planning, it is no surprise that there is not much planning for short or long term disability accomplished, including the potential need to live in a nursing home.

However, you need to be aware that right now senior adults are living longer, health care costs are increasing, and there is a lack of government resources to pay for these costs. You need to be actively planning for a possible future when you may need long term care and you will also need to pay for it.

When discussing paying for any healthcare needs, including long term care, most seniors over 65 mistakenly believe that the Medicare system will pay for the cost of this care. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Medicare is an acute payor system. That means, it will help cover part of the cost of your care on a short term basis. For example, if you have surgery your hospital stay will be covered, part of your doctor’s bill will be covered, and even a brief rehabilitative stay in a rehabilitation center or nursing home will be covered. If, sadly, you are not able to improve over time or need round the clock care based on your physical or cognitive needs, it will not pay for long term or custodial care.

So how do you pay for long-term care if you need it? We would like to share some suggestions with you to help you determine how you would pay for any long term care you may need.

1. You need to take stock of your health, understand any unique needs you may have and determine how to plan for long term care. Look at your overall health to understand where you are right now. Are there any preexisting conditions that could affect your health now or in the future? Has there been a new diagnosis that could lead to future disability? Are you aware of physical or cognitive problems you know of but have not wanted to plan for yet? Having a baseline in place for your needs is critical to understanding how to plan for your long term care.

2. Are you able to pay for your own care? Did you know that the average cost of care in the home begins, in most states, at $4,500 per month while the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $9,000? These costs are dependent on where you live and you can learn more about the options in your specific zip code using the Genworth Cost of Care Study by clicking this link. Right now, do you have the money to pay for this care while still maintaining your home and your existing expenses? For many the answer is no and so there is a need for long term care planning as soon as possible.

3. Do you have a family you can talk to? If you do not have a family or anyone to turn to it is critical to now begin the process of planning for long term care. Talking to an experienced Florida estate planning attorney would be a good place to start when planning for long term care.

4. Are you aware of any public benefits you could be eligible for? There are a number of state and federal programs that could help you pay for long-term care. The condition, however, is that you need to qualify based on both your healthcare needs and your financial resources. One such program is the Medicaid program. This program, should you qualify, may be able to take much of the monthly burden of paying for long-term care off your shoulders.

5. We highly recommend that you meet with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through the complex maze of long term care planning. Your attorney will understand your unique situation and be able to provide a plan to not only find the right care for you but identify ways to pay for it. By starting early there are often more planning options available to you and your attorney. However, there are steps that can be taken in a crisis, but the earlier you can make a plan and implement it, the better.

We know this topic may raise more questions than it answers. The long-term care conversation is a serious one and one that you should have sooner, rather than later, so you are able to take advantage of the planning opportunities available to you.

At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.