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The New Year brings new ideas and new ways to plan for both yourself and your loved ones. For your family this may mean setting goals for jobs and self-improvement or schoolwork and saving for the future. As you think about planning for the future, however, it is essential that you do not fail to consider your aging parents and what they might need both now and in the future.

While you and your parents may not want to think about a future that includes a need for long-term care, it is essential that you start to plan as soon as possible. Unfortunately, long-term care costs continue to rise. In fact, a recent article shared that these costs are up over five percent from last year and over fifty percent since 2004. In may not surprise you to realize that the cost of a skilled nursing home is an amount that very few Older Americans or their adult children can afford in their monthly budget.

The good news is that planning early allows you to have access to many options that require a period of time to implement. There are solutions to be had in a crisis but they will not be as robust as the options available when you can plan ahead. Let us share with you four key pieces of information that can help you prepare. This is the same information we provide to our family, friends, clients, and local professionals, to help them assess what they need and create the best plan for the future.

1. Know what Medicare does and does not pay for. Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for the majority of an Older Americans long-term care needs. Medicare is an acute payor system which means that it is not designed to pay for the long-term, custodial care that may be required in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility in the future.

2. Research facilities in your area. One of the best ways to prepare is to know your options. For example, will your parents remain where they live to receive care or move closer to you? What option is best for each of you? Once you decide on a location, start to tour facilities to determine what you like, and what you do not like, as well as, determining the cost of the care at a facility you could see your parents living in should the need arise.

3. Talk to your loved ones. One of the keys to planning for the rising costs of long-term care is communication with your aging parents. Do they already have a strategy to pay for this care? Do they know what it costs? If they have a long-term care insurance policy, do they know what is covered and what is excluded? How involved do they need you to be?

4. Meet with an elder law attorney. An elder law attorney specializes in knowing how to find good care and how pay for it. He or she is going to be able to create a plan based on your and your parent’s unique needs. Your attorney will also ensure that, should the time come, your family will be able to afford long-term care, even if the costs continue to rise in the future.

It is never too early to begin to plan for long-term care. We know this can be a difficult conversation to begin, yet we want to reiterate how important it is. Do not wait to contact us with your questions, both now and in the future, so that we may assist in you in creating the long-term care plan you and your parents need.