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New York Elder Law Attorney Blog

Nursing home and home health care expenses higher than expected

For many residents of New York, the question is not if they will need long-term health care, but when. Despite this, few individuals adequately plan for such an eventuality. Unfortunately, the cost of nursing home and home health care expenses is often much higher than most people think, and without proper Medicaid planning, a regrettable number of seniors and their families find themselves worrying and unprepared.

Many aging individuals are under the mistaken belief that their long-term care costs will be covered by Medicare. In reality, Medicare pays for only a portion of long-term care, and then only under limited circumstances. Medicaid is a federal program that does help pick up the costs, but it is a needs-based program for which individuals must qualify based on income and assets.

Nursing home care costs continue to increase

Throughout your life, you may have taken pride in keeping yourself as healthy as possible. With a balanced diet and exercise regimen, you could feel much younger than your years. However, you likely also know that you cannot control every aspect of your health, and a sudden issue could come up at any time.

As you get older, the chances of experiencing health issues may increase, and numerous individuals over the age of 65 will likely need some sort of nursing home stay due to health problems. In order to prepare for the potential need for this type of care, you may wish to better understand the costs associated with nursing care.

Knowledgeable guidance for advance health care directive planning

For aging residents of New York, preparing for the future doesn't always just mean planning for future generations. Beyond wills, trusts and beneficiaries, one oft-overlooked aspect of elder care planning is that of an advance health care directive. What, exactly, is this official document and why is it so important?

An advance health care directive is also known as a living will. It's a legal document that outlines wishes for medical treatment in case a time comes when the person does not have the ability to make such decisions for him or herself. It also names a trusted individual to make medical decisions on the other's behalf in the event that he or she cannot express these wishes due to a physical or mental condition.

With nursing home stays on the rise, Medicaid planning is vital

Like many people, most elderly New York residents probably don't like thinking that they may eventually need to rely on nursing home care. Many assume they'll never need a nursing home stay because their families will care for them, while others may think they can rely on government programs to cover the costs. The reality is that more than half of Americans will end up needing nursing home care, the costs of which are staggering and can quickly wipe out a lifetime of savings without proper Medicaid planning.

Researchers in a new study showed a marked increase in lifetime nursing home stays to over 50 percent, an increase from the previous estimate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services of 35 percent. This lifetime use of nursing homes is notably higher and brings with it concerns over how this rising need will be financed. Out-of-pocket payments for long-term nursing home stays are astronomically expensive, sometimes upwards of $50,000. Financial risks are even larger for married couples.

Counsel of New York estate planning lawyer often invaluable

Estate planning is not just for the rich. In fact, despite the name, estate planning doesn't even require someone to own an estate. Especially as family members age, estate planning can become increasingly important, and the guidance of a New York estate planning lawyer often proves invaluable.

When it comes to finances, experts strongly recommend that adult children begin the estate planning process as early as possible so that essential elements are not rushed and hurried at the last minute and aging relatives are able to relax and enjoy their golden years. A discussion about personal finances with loved ones can sometimes feel awkward, so common advice holds that -- regardless of the budget involved – the help of an elder care and estate planning attorney is priceless. These types of attorneys have experience in helping families with aging members find cost-effective ways to plan for the future.

Medicaid planning crucial as cost of care continues to rise

When they hear the term "Medicaid," many residents of New York may think of a government program whose main purpose is to help the poor. In actuality, almost 30 percent of the program's budget goes to pay for nursing home care and other types of long-term care for the elderly. Medicaid planning is an important part of estate planning, as this long-term care for the elderly is incredibly expensive.

In the United States, the average cost of a shared nursing home room is more than $82,000 per year, and private rooms are even more expensive. What's more, these prices are only expected to increase, since costs have risen by nearly 20 percent in the past six years. Even assisted living facilities are more than most people can afford, at a yearly average cost of almost $44,000 without the skilled nursing care provided by nursing homes.

Few have advance health care directives, despite known importance

From Medicaid to living wills, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who claimed planning for end-of-life care in New York isn't important. However, admitting an issue is imperative and actually taking steps to address it are two separate things. Despite the fact that elder law attorneys and others in the United States have been promoting advance health care directives for almost half a century, a recent study reveals that only approximately 30 percent of adults have one.

So what are advance health care directives, and why is having one so important? Advance directives, typically drawn up with the help of a lawyer who focuses on elder law issues, outline a variety of medical decisions in case an individual becomes incapacitated and unable to make his or her desires known. Without one, life or death decisions are left up to doctors or relatives who may not be aware of an individual's preferences.

Forming a special trust for a special needs family member

Estate planning is a necessary step for every individual looking to have a certain amount of control over what happens to his or her estate. However, a complete estate plan also offers many advantages outside of simply outlining who gets what, and one of these includes the ability to plan for the care of a loved one who cannot care for him or herself.

If you are currently caring for a loved one with special needs, you know how stressful it can be when you consider how you will continue to care for that person after you are gone. You can do this by adding a special needs trust to your existing estate plan. This protects your New York family member and gives you additional assurance regarding the future.

Medicaid planning for nursing home and home health care expenses

Often, as individuals age, the responsibility for their care falls to family members. In fact, there are approximately 44 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S., and residents of New York are no exception to these statistics. The downside of this is that, without Medicaid planning for nursing home and home health care expenses, this often takes its toll on family members – usually adult children -- financially, career-wise or both.

A recent survey indicates that half of working caregivers (statistically likely to be women) feel that they are forced to choose between their jobs and their aging parents' needs. A separate joint study by MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving indicates that these women lose approximately $324,044 in wages from cutting work hours or taking jobs with less responsibility – to allow time for caregiving – or quitting completely. Those who try to do both – keep their jobs and make time for caregiving duties – often face penalization in the workplace.

New York City advance health care directive can help prevent pain

Anyone can potentially benefit from a living will. However, having one is especially important for aging residents of New York City. A living will, which is a type of advance health care directive, communicates an individual's preferences regarding medical treatment in the event that he or she becomes incapable of expressing those wishes.

For individuals who have strong desires regarding the type of medical care they would like to receive -- or conversely, that they would prefer withheld – living wills can be crucial. The official document ensures that if, for example, the person becomes comatose or experiences a rapid decline in mental faculties, his or her wishes have already been recorded. For example, the patient may not wish to be resuscitated or placed on life support indefinitely. Health care professionals are legally required to follow these instructions.

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