A weekend Wall Street Journal article suggests paying close attention to your parents during holiday visits this year. Is the normally tidy house now neglected? Is there hoarding? Do you notice memory problems or physical unsteadiness?
It might be time to gather the family and assess what things they might need help with. There are also geriatric care managers who can be hired to do assessments and determine what services might be beneficial. A wonderful website BenefitsCheckUp.org might be helpful as well. It is run by the National Council on Aging and can help determine what benefits your parents might be eligible for.
Many families think that Medicare will pay for the care that a loved one needs. Unfortunately, while Medicare will pay for a short stay in a skilled nursing facility, it is only for a short recovery stay following at least 3 days in the hospital as an inpatient. It does save money for Medicare to pay for recovery care in a less expensive nursing home than in the hospital, but you must be making daily progress, and there are strict limits.
If someone needs to reside in a skilled nursing facility, the costs are approaching $100,000 a year. If you pay for that from IRA, 401K, or other taxable funds, you will need another $40,000 a year to satisfy the IRS. If you withdraw another $40,000 from that taxable account, you will need another $10,000 to cover the taxes on the $40,000, etc., etc.
Perhaps only home care is all that is needed. Before you breathe a sigh of relief, bear in ind that a daily visit from a nurse runs over $100 per visit in most areas. Aides are generally less expensive but there may be a 3 or 4 hour minimum. Assisted living facilities can be wonderful places to live, at a cost of $3000 to $5000 a month. That includes room and board, three meals a day plus snacks, activites for fun in addition to assistance with bathing, dressing and housecleaning. The social interaction is wonderful, however and can add years to a frail lonely person’s life.
You might need to check finances as well if your loved one is having difficulty managing their own accounts. If Medicaid is needed to pay for care, any gifts made in the past 5 years can disqualify them. You might be well advised to check with a specialist in the financing of Long Term Care to learn what strategies might be helpful.
Don’t leave home without it – was a tag line for American Express, and it might be asked of you. Do you have your Long Term Care insurance yet? By 60 years of age a third of us are no longer healthy enough to get it, and must resolve to simply spend the nest egg until gone and then see what government benefits we might be eligible for. You might be surprised to learn that if one year’s cost of a nursing home were set aside to earn interest, that interest check may well pay the annual premium on Long Term Care insurance – and you will never have to touch the principal. But check into it while still healthy enough to get it!