The New Year is here and the month of January is underway and we know many of our friends and clients are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. Did your resolutions focus on your work or your health or your family or on all three? Most importantly, did how to reach your estate planning goals or your long-term care goals make the list?

We want to let you know that one of the most important things you can resolve to do this year is being sure your long-term care plan reflects what you need right now, as well as in the future. Did you know that, unfortunately, less than half of all Americans have a current estate plan and even fewer have a long-term care plan in place? The reason these statistics are concerning is that research tells us that over 70% of Americans over 65 years old will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime. With that previous statement, keep in mind that the current cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home in Ohio is around $7,000 per month. This amount only covers the cost of the room.

Most of us, at over $80,000 per year in out of pocket costs for this type of care, cannot afford to put off planning for the long-term care that may be needed. In fact, we often find that many of our clients are surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover long-term nursing care. Let us share with you that traditional Medicare only fully covers up to 20 days, and up to 100 days with a daily coinsurance payment, of nursing care after a hospital stay. Be aware, if you need long-term care, in a facility or in your own home, it can be extremely expensive. This is why it may be important for Ohio seniors to have a long term care plan in place as soon as possible.

When talking with our clients, most of them also let us know that they have no desire to reside for the long-term in a skilled nursing home. We understand this desire, as well as the fact that much of the care that is needed can be provided by skilled care providers in the home, as long as it can be paid for. This again is where the Medicare program falls short because in almost all circumstances, it does not pay for this form of care in the home.

Know that you limit your options for being able to afford long-term care without a long-term care plan in place that you create with your experienced elder law attorney. Without a plan in place, the reality that you must face may be to:

• Rely on your own savings and expend them, which will cost you your legacy
• Lose your legacy to afford the ever rising cost of long-term care
• Try to buy long-term care insurance, although the premiums may be both expensive and unavailable if you wait too long or have an underlying health condition
• Rely on adult children, often called the “Sandwich Generation,” for financial support

With the help of an experienced Ohio elder law attorney, you can develop a long-term care plan that can help you access much needed public benefits for this needed assistance.

Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is a qualification program to help you afford long-term care and not lose a lifetime of savings to meet long-term care needs. Unfortunately, many people will not qualify because their income and assets are “too high”, and they mistakenly believe they must pay for long-term care on their own. Now it is true that when the money runs out, they can qualify for Medicaid coverage, but it does not have to be that way. Your Ohio attorney can help you navigate your questions and find the answers you need. Very importantly, in fact, if you are fortunate enough to have a family caregiver you rely on as well, your elder law attorney can help you create a relationship together that allows you to get the services you need and provide financial compensation to the caregiver as well, in a way that does not penalize you for accessing needed future benefits.

With all this information what should you do? Begin your long-term care planning. There are ways to qualify for Medicaid earlier, but it does require careful planning. Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive probate, trust, medicaid, asset protection and elder care legal help in central Ohio. Our office can assist with the planning necessary to achieve the goals of our clients. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic to broach, in the long run, helping loved ones plan for the future is critical. Elder care attorneys can help families navigate specialized areas of the law, including matters of long term care, social security, and health care directives, so loved ones get what they need no matter where they are in the continuum of care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.