Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month: Good Reminder for Long Term Care Planning | 2013

Parkinson Awareness Month

If you’re age 50 or older – or you care about someone who’s that age – let Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month serve as a good reminder that we all need long term care planning at some point in our lives.

  • For most folks, age 50 is the perfect time to start long term care planning.  Most, but not all, cases of Parkinson’s disease appear after age 50.
  • However, if early onset dementia runs in your family, 40 is not too early to starting planning, especially if long term care insurance is the best way for you to plan for long term care.

The key to any good long term planning is to plan ahead, before you need it.  When you plan ahead, you have more choices and it costs you less.

Because Parkinson’s disease is a degeneration of the central nervous system, most people do end up needing some form of long-term care.  Symptoms start with shaking, slowness, rigidity, and difficulty walking.  Symptoms then progress to cognitive and behavioral problems and dementia is common.

4 Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

Although we often associate nursing home care with long-term care, “long term care” also refers to care at home and care in an assisted living facility.

For most folks, there are 4 potential ways to pay for long-term care.

  1. Private Pay
  2. Medicaid
  3. Veteran’s Benefits
  4. Long Term Care Insurance

NOTE:  It’s important to note that Medicare is not listed.  Why?  Medicare does not pay for long-term care.  Medicare is medical insurance, not long-term care insurance.  You cannot count on it to pay for long term care.

Paying for Long Term Care:  Private Pay

If you can afford to private pay, you can self-insure.  Private pay provides the most flexibility, but most folks can’t afford to self-insure.

For example, a semi-private nursing home in New Jersey averages about $310 per day and, surprising to most people, there are additional expenses as well.

  • At $310 per day, that’s $111,972+ per year as of 2012.  The average nursing home stay is approximately 3 years.  That’s $335,916+ for a 3-year stay, not including inflation.
  • Double that to $223,944+ per year for a couple.  That’s $671,832+ on average per couple.

What will the daily rate be by the time you or your loved one needs care?

Paying for Long Term Care:  Medicaid

Of course, you can use your own money to pay for whatever you want, including home care, assisted living, or nursing home care.  In some states, Medicaid (governmental assistance) only covers care in a nursing home.  In other states, such as New Jersey, Medicaid may cover your care in an assisted living facility or provide some assistance at home as well.

In addition, you must qualify both medically and financially for Medicaid.  If you cannot afford to private pay and either can’t afford or can’t get long term care insurance, Medicaid may be the best path for you.

If you wish to protect any of your assets for yourself or your family, it is essential that you plan far ahead of time.  There is a five-year “look back” to determine whether you made any financial transfers that would disqualify you from receiving Medicaid.  This does NOT mean that you are disqualified for 5 years, just that that period of time is examined.  Even if you or a loved one is in need of care in the immediate future, we still may be able to assist.  You don’t know until you ask.

How to Pay for Long Term Care: Veteran’s Benefits

If either you or your spouse is a veteran and you are low income, you may qualify to have the Veteran’s Administration help to pay for your long-term care in a nursing home.

Not all veterans and their spouses are eligible.

How to Pay for Long Term Care:  Long Term Care Insurance

We would love for all of our clients to have long-term care insurance to pay for care in their own home, assisted living, or a long-term care facility.

It’s essential to work with an insurance professional, who specializes in long-term care insurance, because you need to purchase your insurance from a company, which will still be around to pay when you need it and won’t raise their prices astronomically.  Plus, there are many different policies.  Some may be a good fit and some may not.

Where to Get Help Planning for Long Term Care

Bratton Scott helps our clients and their families plan for long term care on a regular basis.  We’d be happy to chat with you to determine which path – private pay, Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, or long term care insurance – is best for you.  The sooner you plan, the more we can help you.