Baby Boomers and Long Term Care
Baby Boomer Roadblock
Go to school, find a job, meet a partner, raise a family and buy a house, retire and live happily ever after. Sound familiar? The American dream. This was the ideal embedded in countless baby boomers like myself. Unfortunately, life happens and fairy tales come to an end. What do you do when your picturesque lifestyle becomes one big puzzle? Your spouse is gone, your children have their own lives, you are not young anymore and your health has declined. Get the picture? You are now faced with decisions you never thought you had to make.
Life throws us curveballs
Hopefully, you are one of the lucky ones who never have to face this situation. If it is, you can stop reading now and go on your merry way or continue reading and educate yourself to help someone you know who faces these decisions. The rest of us are facing an uncertain future mired in serious health concerns and housing issues. We may lose our income, suffer the loss of a loved one and worse yet become afflicted with an illness or disease that renders us incapable of caring for ourselves. We may find ourselves blaming ourselves, feeling like a burden to our families and feeling useless, depression may set in. Life may not be the same, yet life goes on. This isn’t the time to give up, there are options.
Oh no, not the nursing home
Not all levels of long term care are the same. It is a common misnomer that if you can’t care for yourself that you need to move into a nursing home at the cost of $9,000.00 a month. This is true for only about 2% of those needing long term care. Many others can make do with at home care and residing in an assisted living community. The longer you can remain autonomous you should strive to do so. At home care could suffice if you need someone to do light laundry, cook a meal, and transport you to doctor visits, grocery shopping or simple companionship care.
The next level of care could be apartment style living in an assisted living community. Assisted living communities can provide three meals daily, laundry, housekeeping, activities and the security and peace of mind that you are not alone. Assisted living communities come in all types; there are those with all the bells and whistles of resort style living which come at a high price or those that are more affordable with fewer amenities. Either one is a good option depending on your budget.
How do you pay for long term care?
Long term care can cost anywhere from $60.00 dollars a day for part time at home care to nearly $300.00 a day in a long term skilled nursing facility. Most baby boomers live on a fixed income and the trend is that they have nearly exhausted their savings when the need for long term care arises. Veterans may be able to qualify for an Aid and Attendance Pension which could net them an additional $1780.00 per month to pay for their or their sick spouses at home care or assisted living care. There are many rules and regulations in applying and I suggest that you seek the guidance of a VA accredited or Elder Law attorney in doing so. If you reach certain income limits and asset limits you could apply for Medicaid to help pay for your care. Then there are those who can self pay or were smart enough to purchase long term care insurance.
Make a plan
Now is the time to make a plan for how you will address your need for long term care. As awkward as it seems, start the conversation with your family, financial advisor and lawyer. Life can change in an instant, be prepared. The future is uncertain for all of us, drain every ounce of every moment in your life and realize it is okay to be scared but not okay to be unprepared.
Joseph W. Lehn is an Elder Law and VA Accredited attorney with offices in Sarasota and Port Charlotte, Florida.