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Challenges of long-term care planning and skilled-nursing care

As our loved ones get older, the reality is that many of them will need increasing levels of medical assistance. The stress of coping with these changes emotionally can be difficult enough for families in Massachusetts. Add in the confusing paperwork, the rigid restrictions of certain care programs and the high costs of certain levels of care and it can all be too much for a spouse or family member to handle.

An increasing number of families may find themselves in the position of examining the options available for the care of an elderly loved one. In fact, by the years 2030, there will be more than 72 million people over the age of 65 in U.S. This is more than twice the number reported in 2000. For this reason, it can be crucial to work with an attorney to develop a long-term care plan.

Skilled-nursing care is something that many families pursue as they look to help an elderly family member. However, the high cost of maintaining these services make in an unrealistic option for many people. For this reason, families generally have to consider many programs and plans to cover the cost of elderly care.

Medicare can cover the cost of the first 20 days that a person is in a nursing facility, but after that there is a significant co-pay that a family or supplemental plan must cover. In terms of Medicaid, the primary payer for elder care services, there are rigid financial and medical requirements that must be met consistently. There are also folks who end up paying for care by themselves, which can end up being extremely costly.

There are currently groups who are working to develop clearer and more accessible long-term care solutions, but an immediate or definitive plan is not expected to be available any time soon. Until and unless this happens, families can work with an estate planning attorney who understands the challenges that many people face when it comes to the issues of elder care. Developing a long-term care plan can make this transitional time, which is already difficult enough, a little easier to cope with.

Source: ModernHealthcare.com, "Long-term tab," Jessica Zigmond, March 9, 2013

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