Tag: Aging Parents

What Are The Differences Between A Skilled Nursing Home And An Assisted Living Facility?

Have you or a senior loved one reached the point where it may no longer be safe or appropriate to live at home without assistance? If so, you may be considering moving into a skilled nursing home or an assisted living facility and find yourself wondering what is the difference between the two? Although both facilities offer medical care and assistance with activities of daily living, there are a few essential differences that are important to understand.

First, an assisted living facility may be more of a residential setting and a skilled nursing home may be more of a clinical setting. The difference in settings may be due to the fact that those in a skilled nursing home typically require constant medical care and attention.

Another key difference can be the amount of independence afforded by the facilities. Those in an assisted living facility may be able to live a bit more independently and, thus, are given the opportunity to cook their own meals and participate in a wide range of social and recreational activities. In a skilled nursing facility, residents do not have access to their own kitchen for meal preparation and all meals are instead prepared by the staff. While nursing home residents are given the opportunity to socialize and participate in activities, they are often more limited based on the physical health and condition of the residents.

Finally, nursing home and assisted living facilities differ in cost and insurance coverage. According to the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, the cost of a skilled nursing home is nearly double the cost of an assisted living community and can amount to over $100,000.00 annually for a private room. Paying for either senior care option can impose an enormous financial burden on seniors and their families. Medicare will not pay for assisted living costs and full Medicaid benefits might not be available. You should start investigating your coverage options as soon as possible. Fortunately, an elder law attorney will be able to analyze your financial circumstances and medical needs and help you come up with a plan to pay for whatever care option is right for you.

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Protect Your Parents Before They Enter A Nursing Home

Do you anticipate that your parents may require full-time nursing home care due to their age or their health condition? If so, you should consider helping them put a plan in place now.  According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the average cost for a private room in a nursing home facility is over $100,000.00 per year. Although nursing home care can be incredibly expensive, there may be ways that you can help ensure that the assets of your parents are protected and that they do not lose all of their savings paying those exorbitant nursing home bills.   

There may be a variety of ways in which you can help protect your parents by planning for nursing home care payments. Long-term care insurance plans can be an affordable option to offset the costs of care, especially if your parents are young enough and healthy enough to qualify for the best rate. Veterans benefit programs, if available to your parents, can help cover the costs of nursing home care. Medicare also provides coverage in limited situations. Primarily, however, people depend upon Medicaid coverage to pay for nursing home care. Access to Medicaid coverage, however, requires that the nursing home patient fall below a certain asset and income threshold. An elder law attorney can help you and your parents understand what benefits and coverage options are available and ensure your parents are protected.

Even if you do not think your parents would qualify for Medicaid with their current assets and income levels, it may be important that you contact an elder law attorney because there are many strategies that can be employed to protect your parents’ assets and still allow them to qualify for Medicaid coverage. Because May is National Elder Law Month, now may be the perfect time to do so and help your parents take this significant step towards protecting their future. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

5 Tips For Caring For Aging Seniors During National Elder Law Month

Did you know that May is both National Elder Law Month and Older Americans Month? It is a month in which we celebrate our seniors and those who assist seniors in navigating their planning needs. Caring for your senior loved one can be stressful and difficult at times, but also very rewarding. Let us take a look at five tips to employ when you are caring for your aging senior to make your life, and his or her life, a little bit easier:

1. Be organized. When caring for your senior loved one you may find the amount of assistance that is actually needed, overwhelming. In addition to ensuring that your loved one’s medical needs are attended to by the appropriate healthcare professionals, you may also need to provide your loved one with assistance in regular daily tasks like getting dressed, eating meals, and taking medication. Creating schedules and to-do lists can help you make sure you are able to keep everything on track

2. Be patient and flexible. The needs of your loved one, and his or her condition, may be ever changing and it can be important to help ensure that he or she understands that you are there to provide support, no matter what. 

3. Be consistent. Keeping bedtime, mealtimes, activities, and social events as consistent as possible can provide structure and help you and your senior loved one create expectations for each day.

4. Share caregiving responsibility. If all of the caregiving falls on your shoulders, you may burn out quickly. If possible, share the caregiving responsibilities with relatives or friends so that you are not solely responsible for all tasks.

5. Seek the advice of an elder law attorney.  You should also contact an elder law attorney to discuss how to best plan for your senior loved one’s long-term care. Care for our seniors can be very expensive, but there are a variety of state and federal programs in place that may help alleviate a lot of the financial burden.

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day

Did you know that Friday, April 16, 2021, is National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day? With social distancing measures still in place, and everyone still spending lots of time at home, it can be a great time to participate in cleaning out your unused or expired medication. Doing so on this day can be great preparation for National Drug Takeback Day, when local businesses, doctor’s offices and pharmacies will have collection bins where you can safely dispose of your medications.

One important reason to clean out your medicine cabinet may be that expired medication can be potentially harmful. First, there may be a direct risk that other people could get into unused or expired medication that they should not be able to access. For example, many common medications are safe when taken as directed and within their shelf life but can turn toxic over time after their expiration date. Tetracycline is a great example of this. Similarly, many over the counter medications are safe when taken as directed, but not so safe after they expire, and your kids or spouse may forget to check the date on the bottle before popping it open. It may be best to keep a regular eye on expiration dates and dispose of medication promptly to avoid this. Of course, there are also many people in our communities who struggle with substance abuse, whether opioid addiction or a different drug problem. Many prescription drugs can be misused or abused, with fatal effects.

You should not throw medication in the garbage. Medications thrown into the garbage can leak into the soil and can cause toxicity in the environment. You should not flush medications down the toilet either, as they then leak into the water supply, with harmful effects on both humans and wildlife.

On National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day you can clear out any unused, expired, or otherwise unwanted medications and keep them in a safe and secure place. The following weekend is National Drug Takeback Day. At that time, you should be able to dispose of your medication in one of many collection areas in your community. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

No Time To Waste: Why Your Aging Parent Needs A Power Of Attorney Now

Have you talked to your parent about incapacity planning? Although talking with your aging parent about planning for his or her potential incapacity is never an easy task, it can be critical to have these difficult conversations to help ensure that your parent may be protected. A power of attorney can be an essential legal document because it can allow someone to put in place a plan for managing his or her affairs in the event he or she is unable to do so due to something such as incapacitation.  

An example of such a circumstance that may benefit from a power of attorney being in place could be a tragic car accident where a person suffers injuries that impact his or her ability to make sound decisions. Alternatively, a common concern as our parents get older, a senior may begin to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. With a power of attorney in place, you can help ensure that your aging parent’s wishes are carried out in accordance with his or her plan if your parent is ever in the position where he or she is unable to manage affairs.

In the power of attorney document, your parent will identify one or more persons to act as his or her agent in the event of incapacity. The power of attorney document outlines the specific powers and authority that the agent has and it can be crafted based on your parent’s wishes. The agent acting pursuant to the power of attorney is a fiduciary to your parent so the agent must act only in your parent’s best interest. It may be important to note that putting a durable power of attorney in place can be important for incapacity planning. The durability feature means that the power granted under the power of attorney survives incapacitation of the principal, your parent.  

If your aging parent does not have a power of attorney in place, then you may need to enlist the help of an experienced estate planning attorney to put one in place for your parent now. As with all estate planning, many people may think that there is no need to rush. A power of attorney, however, can be critical because, in many states, including Florida, if you feel that your parent is unable to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to have your parent placed under guardianship if there is no power of attorney in place. This may mean a court will have to determine whether your parent is in fact incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own behalf. The court may need to hear from a doctor or witnesses to make this decision.  Once your parent is deemed incapacitated, the court next decides who manages his or her affairs and how to do so. The power of attorney can eliminate the need for court intervention and give your parent the ability to control who acts as his or her agent. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Medicaid Planning for Florida Seniors

Did you know that, according to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, a person turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services, including assisted living or a nursing home? The median cost of a private room in a nursing home is over $100,000 annually, according to the Florida Health Care Association. Medicaid planning involves legally and ethically protecting assets for those who do not already qualify for Medicaid, and for those who qualify but may be expecting an influx of money, such as an inheritance or a personal injury settlement, so that individuals can make their money last longer and lead to the highest possible quality of life. 

The laws governing Medicaid can be complex. For 2021, the income cap to qualify for Medicaid in Florida is $2382.00, per month. If your monthly income, from all sources, exceeds the limit for this year, you will not qualify for Medicaid. You may, however, consider creating either a Miller Trust, a Qualified Income Trust (QIT), or a Supplemental Needs Trust. A Miller Trust is an irrevocable trust that accepts any monthly income over the income cap or slightly more, even though the Trust still uses that money to pay for your long-term care, minus a small personal allowance. These types of trusts may be structured so that certain assets and income sources are removed from the Medicaid calculation, allowing a person to then qualify to receive Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of long-term care.

Medicaid planning may require a thorough examination of your total asset portfolio. Our office can help you protect your home and other assets. This can be especially important if one spouse needs care and the other can live independently. Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Estate Planning Awareness Week: How to Prepare for COVID-19 Continuation

Estate planning can be important for a number of reasons. Did you know that the U.S. House of Representatives even designated the third week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week? The week is an opportunity to recognize and raise awareness as to the many things that can be accomplished through a strong estate plan. The protections put in place by a comprehensive estate plan seem especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When developing an estate plan, you should consider including:

1. A Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives an agent the authority to carry on your financial and legal affairs and protect your property by acting on your behalf when you are incapacitated. The power of attorney can give the agent the ability to do things like pay bills, write checks, make deposits, sell or purchase assets, and sign tax returns.

2. Health Care Planning Documents: These documents empower you to select a trusted individual who will be given the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incompetent or incapacitated.

3. A Living Will: A living will allows you to indicate what kinds of end-of-life care you do and do not want when you are in a terminal medical situation. Without this document, your family will be uncertain about what types of care you would want, decisions which are often fraught and stressful.

4. A Will: This is possibly the most common legal document in estate planning. It can be used to direct the distribution of your property at the time of your death. It also allows you to appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your assets. Additionally, it allows you to appoint a guardian to take care of minor children.

5. A Revocable Trust: This is a tool that can be used both for incapacity planning and for your estate after you pass away. This can be a great tool for maintaining privacy, and ensuring that your wishes are followed both during end-of-life and after you pass.

We know you may have questions. Let us help. Please contact us today to discuss the tools you need in your estate plan.

Don’t Miss These Benefits for Seniors During National Nutrition Month

This March we celebrate National Nutrition Month. Nutrition is an important facet of all of our lives but this holds especially true when we are considering how we will care for the Older Americans in our lives. “Older” Americans is a term that refers to individuals who are over sixty years of age in America and are the individuals and their loved ones that we focus on helping in our law practice.

When it comes to elder care, it is never too early to plan forward. Our goal is to ensure that you are protected both now and well into the future, whether you are a Florida senior or caring for one. We know that this type of planning can raise significant questions, especially as you start to think about your potential long-term care needs and who can make decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.

One of the keys to success for you and your loved ones is to be armed with the information you need. Whether you are an Older American, or caring for one, let us share a few fun facts and tips that can benefit you this March and throughout the year!

1- Get informed about your options. When we think about nutrition, most of us think about improving our health overall. Whether you are starting with improving your eating habits, exercise or something else entirely, do your research. Learning what is best for you and your loved ones, as well as being knowledgeable about what is available in your local community, can be a great step in the right direction.

2- Learn to prepare healthy alternatives. It can be hard to determine how to cook healthier options, especially as you age. For most seniors, there are more robust options available for healthy eating than there were fifty to sixty years ago. The goal now, is to learn how to prepare these foods so they can be enjoyed. Luckily, there are more and more tools on the internet you can use to teach you how to prepare healthy food. For example, just click this link to watch the Next Steps to Better Nutrition video developed for seniors by the National Council on Aging.

3- Eat your veggies. It is not just a catchy saying, it is the truth! There are incredible benefits for seniors that come directly from eating vegetables. For example, green, leafy vegetables have strong health care benefits and research shows that they can assist with health care conditions, such as macular degeneration or cataracts.

4- Remember physical activity. While it may be harder to get outdoors during the winter months, there is never an excuse for failing to exercise. Most health professionals recommend a minimum of thirty minutes a day. Remember, especially if this is a new routine for you, that this can be broken up into smaller increments. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians shares that you can add exercise into your daily routine by parking farther away from your destination or taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

We know this can be a confusing topic. We encourage you, however, to step outside your comfort zone and learn more about ways you can improve your life or the life of an Older American you care about. Do not hesitate to ask us your questions about this or any other elder care issue you are facing. We are your local community law firm here to help you both now and in the future as you face challenges associated with the aging process.

How to Avoid Family Conflict When Shifting from Family Elder Care, to Paid Caregiving

Most elder caregiving is performed by close family members, but almost inevitably, there may come a time when even the most dedicated family caregivers have to make room for paid care services.

This can create conflict between family members and run the risk of detracting from an elder loved one’s quality of care and overall well-being. We are here to tell you that it does not have to.

Family conflict, particularly among adult children, often results from:

  • Sibling rivalries and prior family disputes
  • An inability to cooperate and make important shared decisions
  • Disagreements about an elder loved one’s health and financial concerns
  • Uneven distributions of paid caregiving responsibilities

Whether due to a diagnosable illness like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury or just plain old age, paid caregivers are well-suited to deliver positive health care results. This does not mean, however, that transitioning away from family care is going to occur smoothly.

First, the lion’s share of family caregiving usually falls on one particular adult child. It is important for other siblings to recognize all that this entails, as letting go can be challenging.

Forgoing income-generating opportunities and basing social and personal commitments around an aging parent is an enormous sacrifice. When combining the rigors of meal preparation, assistance with bathing, dressing, transportation, and other daily activities, elder caregiving can be exhausting.

This has to be acknowledged and respected, even if it is the primary elder caregiver who now wants to pay for help, and possibly relief. Conversely, a primary caregiver should recognize and work through any resentments from adult siblings and family members about his or her volunteer care.

Even the most “functional” families may bring old baggage to the table when facing difficult elder care decisions, but issues will need to be resolved with the elder loved one’s best interests in mind. Clear communication and mature compromise is a requirement. If disputes persist, then consulting a third-party expert for impartial guidance can be extremely helpful. As elder law professionals we can offer advice on sensitive issues and provide a healthy way forward. Do not wait to let us know what help you and your loved one’s need.

How to Protect Yourself From Sweetheart Scams This February

February can be an emotional month for some Older Americans. The Valentine’s Day holiday can create feelings of loneliness and isolation, which unfortunately leaves some seniors more vulnerable to scams. One such scam, the Sweetheart Scam, tends to increase in frequency during this time. This type of scam occurs when a scammer forms a relationship with a senior solely for the purpose of extorting them from money. This relationship is more commonly formed online, and the senior typically never meets their romantic interest. This often leaves the senior even more vulnerable and hurt. We know you care about protecting the senior you love both now and in the future. To help you do this, let us share a few ways to help your senior loved one avoid falling victim to Sweetheart Scams.

First, it is important that your senior loved one understands what a Sweetheart Scam is and the common elements of this type of scam and scams in general. This will hopefully help your loved one be able to identify if he or she is being targeted. Being a victim of a scam can be an emotional and embarrassing ordeal for your loved one. Encouraging your loved one to talk to someone they trust, whether that be a close friend or family member, if they have suspicions about a person they are involved with can help prevent the senior you love from becoming a victim.

We encourage you to remind your loved one that there should never be a valid reason that a romantic interest should need access to their bank information or Social Security Number. Often, the criminals involved in these scams will ask for money multiple times. If the senior sends money, it is likely that the criminal will continue to ask. Unfortunately, we often see that the romantic interest will disappear once they have received the money they asked for or the senior begins to get suspicious. This typically leaves the senior hurt, vulnerable, and even more lonely than before they were targeted by the scam. It is also important to remember that your senior loved one may experience long-lasting effects from the scam, particularly if the criminal received your loved one’s Social Security Number. Lastly, encourage your loved one to always be skeptical of people they meet online, until they are fully able to verify their identify and intentions.

Above all, one of the most effective ways to help protect your senior loved one from scams is by encouraging them to create a comprehensive Florida estate plan. If you have questions or are ready to help create a plan for your senior loved one, do not wait to contact our office.