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The Rising Cost of Healthcare: Are You Prepared for the Long Term?

Posted April 21, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Over the next 20 years, the number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to double to 71 million, which is estimated to comprise 20% of the total US population.  And thanks to advances in medical science, those surviving to the age of 65 can actuarially expect to live an average of 20 more years.  

Statistics show that nearly 70% of people over 65 will require some form of long term care in their lifetime.  According to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, the national average cost of care in an assisted living facility is $41,124 per year; in a nursing home, that cost doubles to $82,855 per year.

Helen Whelan, one of the estate planning attorneys here at Miller, Miller & Canby, has focused her practice on the legal needs of seniors and those with disabilities.  She offers this simple advice to clients interested in preparing for long term care:  plan early and take the time to do your research. “It’s a good idea to start early and to keep your planning up to date since there can be unexpected changes in your life that need special consideration,” she says. Long term care is basically used to describe various home and community-based services for the elderly and/or disabled who may not be able to perform certain activities of daily living.  This can range from home care and day programs to assisted living, retirement communities and nursing homes.  “It's important to start researching your options early, before you need the care, so you are not forced to make hasty decisions under pressure,” Whelan suggests.  

When researching care for a loved one, make sure to listen to the concerns of that person. “Sometimes bringing in a neutral third party, such as a social worker, is helpful in approaching the subject,” Whelan adds. There are many resources that families can use to help map out a plan for long term care. Most people use a variety of options, including health insurance, long term care insurance, personal income/savings, life insurance, annuities or trusts.  “Additionally, Medicaid and/or Veteran’s Benefits may be available when other resources either don’t exist or run out.”  Whelan adds.   “However, Medicare will not cover Assisted Living or residence in a Nursing Home; studies have shown that 60% of people are unaware of this important fact.”

Whelan listens to clients and after ascertaining their needs can offer valuable resources to help those interested in beginning to care for an elderly or disabled person.  To learn more about your options, contact Helen at 301-762-5212 or send her an email.