We all picture ourselves sliding into retirement – the absolute picture of health, grabbing wanderlust by the tail. Healthy aging doesn’t happen by accident. We are aware of the (not so) secret tips to healthy aging that involve diet and exercise. However, thoughtful planning and the right Elder Law Attorney are instrumental in enjoying peace of mind into our last years of life.
An Elder Law Attorney helps us plan for the stages of our lives when we will need resources to remain healthy and footloose. Financial resources and resources in terms of services available become part of our plan to focus on independence in aging. Financial planning and estate planning are essential for aging successfully, creating the foundation to support options in older age.
Most seniors plan for old age with one option in mind – staying at home until their last breath. This is an option that takes more resources (money and services) but is not impossible. Therefore, seniors who want to create a successful aging plan consider what services they may need in different stages of life and plan accordingly.
5 Options for Healthy Aging
1. Case Management offers the most flexibility in aging safely at home.
A Case Manager is the ultimate advocate for the senior who wants to stay at home. Commonly described as a stand-in adult child for their clients, a Case Manager steps in to create a plan for aging safely at home and organizes the services needed to make that happen. From scheduling caregivers in the home to accompanying to doctor appointments or being at the bedside for a visit to the Emergency Room, a Case Manager is the first point of contact for the senior and their family.
A Case Manager is knowledgeable about local resources, benefits available, and services that seniors need to remain safely at home. After establishing a rapport with their client, the Case Manager becomes a trusted member of the Circle of Concern. This relationship can be an invaluable glimpse into the day-to-day life of a senior with family far away – or no family at all.
Who pays for a case manager? In most cases, it is an out-of-pocket expense. For those with a long-term care insurance policy, case management may be included in the coverage. Additionally, for those still working, many Employee Assistance Programs pay for a few hours with a Case Manager to help employees who are caring for aging parents.
No matter the cost, an experienced Case Manager is worth their weight in gold, often saving a senior and their family a great deal of time and money.
2. Home care is the next line of defense in keeping a senior safe at home.
As we age, daily tasks become exhausting. Who wants to waste energy on chores when we can enjoy time out with family and friends? Private duty home care can start with housekeeping tasks, meal preparation, and laundry as an introduction, allowing energy to be saved for more meaningful tasks.
As the relationship with a caregiver develops and care needs increase, daily caregiving tasks can be included to add personal care such as bathing, grooming, and dressing. With increasing care needs and additional hours comes more expense. A solid aging plan includes a financial plan to pay for the expense of in-home care.
Who pays for private duty care? Primarily, this is an out-of-pocket expense. Some long-term care insurance policies cover home care and VA Aid & Attendance pays towards care in the home as well. For seniors wanting to live their final years at home, this expense can become burdensome when care is needed around the clock.
Did you know you can pay a family member to provide in-home care? A Personal Services Contract in Florida is a smart strategy used by knowledgeable Public Benefits Attorneys. You can learn more about protecting your assets while creating a strategy to pay for your healthcare.
3. Assisted Living – not the nursing homes your parents remember visiting when they were kids.
Assisted Living in Florida has evolved into luxury senior living with amenities most seniors never dreamed of. From on-site movie theaters, full-service bars, and high-tech fitness centers, assisted living communities are poised to compete for your business. When private duty care is no longer cost-effective or a senior simply wants more options for socialization, assisted living offers a range of services and price points.
Benefits of Assisted Living
Assistance with daily activities
It’s true – assisted living in Florida is getting more expensive. While there has always been an element of “sticker shock” when hearing the monthly fee for room and board, current rates can be disheartening for those who haven’t created an aging plan. The least expensive day is Day One. As care needs go up and costs increase, concerns about affordability and outliving one's funds can steal peace of mind.
Who pays for assisted living? This senior living option is mostly private pay. However, planning ahead for public benefits such as Medicaid and VA Aid & Attendance, can provide financial assistance. Additionally, long-term care insurance policies typically pay claims for care received in an assisted living community.
Your Elder Law Attorney is your best advocate for accessing benefits and preparing your finances to pay for the care you want when you need it.
4. Memory Care costs more than other types of senior living communities.
In Florida, assisted living communities that specialize in memory care have additional regulatory requirements. Often, that translates to more expense and a higher cost for consumers. You can find memory care in a specialized facility or as part of a designated area of an assisted living community. Stand-alone or dedicated area, the cost of memory care will be an average of 20 – 30% more than assisted living.
Benefits of Memory Care
Specialized staff training
Safety and security
Florida is seeing a significant increase in elderly people – and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease – making incapacity planning a necessary conversation. Your Elder Law Attorney will prepare your estate so that your wishes can be upheld even when you are no longer able to communicate them. While it seems like this may be an uncomfortable conversation, you may find that it is one of the most enlightening chats you can have with an aging parent.
Who pays for memory care? This level of care in an assisted living community is primarily private pay. With an aging plan, your Elder Law Attorney can apply for public benefits at the appropriate time, contributing to the total cost each month. Without financial planning, memory care can be a financially devastating expense for families.
The future may be unknown but with proper planning, your family can choose the best memory care options without having to worry about covering the cost.
5. We call them Skilled Nursing Facilities now.
The “nursing home” of long ago has evolved into a facility of last resort for seniors striving to age in place at home. While skilled nursing facilities remain a valued provider in the continuum of care for the elderly, few express a desire to live there for a long time – and not everybody will need to. With a proactive aging plan developed with a skilled Elder Law Attorney, you can avoid a long-term stay in a nursing home.
Skilled Nursing Facilities are for those individuals in need of chronic and critical nursing care. Some seniors may experience a short stay after a medical event, such as a fall, cardiac issue, or need for medication stabilizing, as Skilled Nursing Facilities are not intended to be a long-term solution. Florida has created a licensing system for Assisted Living Facilities that accommodates most care needs, so seniors can age in the least restrictive environment.
Who pays for skilled nursing facilities? For a short-term stay, Medicare and secondary insurance will pay for the care needed to return a senior to their previous level of functioning and living situation. If you have reached all your care plan goals but don’t meet the admission criteria for assisted living (and you can’t return home), you can stay and pay privately (the daily rate is currently $300 or more). Medicaid assistance is available to those who apply and qualify – your Public Benefits Attorney understands the requirements and can help you plan. (They are also invaluable in a Medicaid crisis!)
Healthy Aging Starts with a Solid Plan
Your Elder Law Attorney knows that one medical incident can change your financial future. Healthy aging includes a plan that anticipates a debilitating illness and includes financial planning for that eventuality. Of course, your legal cheerleaders hope you never experience a debilitating illness. However, if you do, they have you covered, so you can focus on what’s most important - your recovery and your family.
Healthy aging looks different to different people. It absolutely includes healthy habits and, just as absolutely, should include a healthy aging plan. An aging plan addresses your physical and financial estate. Additionally, this proactive plan reassures your family that during emotional times of crisis, they have your instructions and can take comfort in knowing your wishes are being followed.
Your Elder Law Attorney is here for you today and in the future. Their expertise in healthy aging plans and ability to help us prepare for the future are two reasons why they are a Resource We Love. Read more about the services of Elder Law Attorneys in the Legal and Financial Section of our Blog.