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ABOUT THIS PROJECT
When a family grows and ages there are many changes that occur; while some of these changes are a product of careful planning, others come from a sudden turn of events. Elder Law helps give families peace of mind during both the planned and unplanned events that come with aging. Whether your loved one’s circumstances change to include assisted living, skilled nursing for long term care, home care, guardianship, health care representative document, Medicaid and/or Medicare, Elder Law planning can provide options to help make these transitions smooth.
LONG TERM CARE OPTIONS
As our family members age, we start to confront elder law-related topics, either for our parents or ourselves. One of the most urgent concerns that comes with age is finding the right nursing home care for the long term, which traditional health insurance doesn’t cover. Without the help from health insurance, the cost of nursing home care is hard for family members to scrape together without depleting your loved one’s life savings, and no one wants to stick their beloved family members in a poor quality, low cost nursing home care option. Nursing home care can cost on the average $10,000 to $12,000 a month, depending on where you live. The majority of people end up paying for long term nursing home care until they are out of assets, and then turn to Medicaid to pay for the care. However, with some planning and acquired knowledge, the assets can be protected and benefits received earlier. This not only gives the family peace of mind that their loved one is taken care of, but also give the loved one assurance that his or her hard earned life savings will be passed to their family.
It’s very common to hear the general public’s confusion about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. However, while the names are similar and easy to confuse, their purposes and benefits are vastly different. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that is available for anyone over the age of 65 years old, with no financial requirements or regulations. Because this is a health insurance program, the coverage of nursing home care is very hard to qualify for, as with most traditional health insurance plans. With this program, the benefits come in “parts,” and there are three primary parts: Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (medical coverage), and Part D (prescription drug coverage).
Medicaid is a Federal health care program most closely related to the welfare program. This program is funded mainly by the federal government but administered by the state. There are income and asset requirements that must be met to qualify, and each state has its own unique requirements. In Pennsylvania, this program is monitored and controlled by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. There is a long process which applicants must navigate to gain benefits from this program, but the end result is assurance that your loved ones are cared for. Our office attempts to make this process easier for the applicants by providing our clients knowledge of the available options, including whether Medicaid benefits are an option or not.
MOVING INTO SENIOR HOUSING
Moving from any home is a daunting task, but moving into a nursing home care facility can be extremely frightening. Realizing that the home you have spent most, if not all, of your adult life in is no longer the best living arrangement is hard to come to terms with. There are many reasons this family home is no longer suitable including, among others, the death of a spouse, concerns for health or safety, and the decline of day to day task ability. The first step in making this big transition is overcoming the idea that the family home is the only or the best option, and overcoming the emotional ties that the family home provides. Then the most daunting task presents itself to the family in finding the right place to move. This step is not easy; you have to find the “perfect” place for your loved one, the place he or she feels as much at home as possible, while still remaining affordable. Also, sorting through the memories that have accumulated is a hard task to come to terms with, as there is no easy way to throw out the memories your loved one spent a lifetime creating. I mean can’t they just take all of the finger-painting’s and “A” papers that made the grand achievement of the fridge to their new home? While they cannot take all of these family collection items with them, it is best to space out this to transition while still making the early decision to move before a crisis calls for the move, make the adjustment as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
Jeffrey R. Bellomo, Esquire is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. As the owner of Bellomo & Associates, LLC he advises families about the legal challenges facing them today. He counsels clients and provides solutions on: Asset Protection, Special Needs Trusts, Wills, Trust Design, Guardianships, Medicaid and Estate Planning & Administration. His mission is to provide professional caring service to all his clients.