In recent weeks I have explained that Medicare is not intended to provide assistance to seniors in need of long term care unless their condition is either terminal or expected to improve. Instead, under certain circumstances, Medicaid will provide long term care benefits to seniors in need.
In my last column, I explained the options to pay for long term care are very limited. Adding to the problem is a significant amount of incorrect information about what those options are. For example, many seniors erroneously believe Medicare will pay long term care costs. This is not correct.
In my last column, I explained that long term care is not really about recovering from health challenges. It is about dealing with health challenges which will not improve, and which leave you or your loved one unable to take care of his/her personal needs.
In recent weeks, I have written about the importance of preparing for “long term care” needs. Before going further, I need to address what that term means.
Long term care is not about hospitalization. In fact, it is not really even about medical care. It is about the inability to provide for one’s basic personal needs, often called “activities of daily living”, because of on-going health challenges. Examples of “activities of daily living” include bathing, dressing, and eating.
My purpose in writing these columns is to help readers make informed estate planning decisions, including “end of life” decisions. To accomplish that purpose, I try to address legal issues using “every day” terms.
It is one thing to understand a legal issue; it is another to be prepared when the complications of life arise. In my professional experience, there is no better example than long term care planning. More and more seniors, and their families, are learning the importance of planning for long term care needs . . . and the incredible difficulties that can arise when no planning is done.
By definition, the need for long term care can last for years. This is true even for residents of nursing homes, perhaps the most expensive level of care. According to one study, the majority of nursing home patients will be there for at least a year. In fact, almost 25% will remain patients for more than three years.