Serving Clients on Long Island and in New York City
Elder law is an aspect of estate planning focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include senior housing and home care, long-term (or nursing home) care, guardianships, durable powers of attorney, health care documents, Medicare and Medicaid.
Senior Housing & Long-Term Care Options
The Long Term Care Dilemma
As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves, our parents or our other aging relatives. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care costs can vary greatly. In the New York Metropolitan area, a room in a nursing home averages approximately $180,000 per year. The average stay is more than two years and for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia the average stay in a nursing home increases to over eight years. Many people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted.
Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid.
People are often confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an “entitlement” program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, skilled nursing facility care (only up to a maximum of 100 days per spell of illness), some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than nine percent of nursing home care in this country.
Medicare Part B covers clinical research, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, mental health treatment and limited outpatient prescription drugs.
New York Medicaid
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an “entitlement” program like Medicare, but rather a means-tested program which looks at an individual’s income and assets. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid programs available in New York, from basic medical coverage to nursing home care.
We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid eligibility may be an option.
Senior Housing Options
Helping an aging relative move to senior housing can be very challenging. The death of a spouse and/or declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that the home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a home are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is both appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime’s accumulation of possessions.
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver’s seat.
- Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
- Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
- Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.