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The myth of easy, accessible elder care

Misconceptions and assumptions about aging and elder care can be dangerous. Many people assume that the government or their children will take care of them when they get older. They harbor a vision of care paid for by Social Security or some other program and handled by competent professionals. The truth is that elder care is largely in the hands of the individual. If you do not have a plan in place, the reality of your long-term care will likely come as a disappointing shock.

Issues in elder care

You need to consider your long-term care plan as soon as possible to put yourself in the best position. Among the items you should consider are: 

  • Asset protection planning: This includes establishing a plan for the transfer of your assets when the time comes, as well as tools used to protect those assets for the beneficial use of your family.
  • Choosing a nursing home: The ideal situation for many is to remain in their own homes. That said, there may come a time when admittance to a nursing home is your best option. It is important to choose the right facility to meet your needs. Planning ahead can make this transition easier.
  • Medicaid planning: Coordinating Medicaid benefits with other aspects of your estate plan can help you preserve your assets and avoid penalties associated with the program.
  • An elder care team: If you don't know who has the power to make decisions for you when you can't make them yourself, you need a plan. Health care directives, a will and other estate planning tools can ensure that your best interests are in the hands of the right people when the time comes.

Elder care planning crosses generations

Children and loved ones play a role in putting an elder care plan in place. Waiting for an emergency to force your hand is not an ideal solution. Home health care, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes are options to discuss before they are necessities. Talk to your loved ones and encourage them to have a formal plan in place. Work with experienced elder care and estate planning attorneys to make sure all the bases are covered. Don't avoid the topic simply because it's uncomfortable. You and your elderly loved ones will pay the price if you do.

Source: Financial Advisor, "The 'Shady Acres' Myth Of Long-Term Care," by Eleanor O'Sullivan, 30 November 2015 

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