Many adults are finding that their aging parents are in need of health care assistance. It's one of those topics that is typically avoided until the time comes. The good news is, there are many care options available to choose from. This is why it's so important to take the time to research your options in order to select the most feasible and practical plan for your loved ones.
Living with Family: One option is to invite and move the aging parent into your own home, depending on the living space available and whether or not you can co-exist in peace. One resource to check out with this option is, Adult Day Care Centers. These centers are designed to provide care and companionship for older adults who need assistance during the day. The adult day care center can also provide care givers a break so they can run errands, go to work, or decompress- whatever they may need.
Assisted Living: For those aging parents in good health, they can opt to enter an assisted living retirement community. Here they can receive personalized care when needed, while remaining in a residential setting. Another option for healthy elders is Long Term Care insurance. This is coverage that will pay for assisted living, nursing home care, adult day care services, care coordination, and in home health care in the event they are unable to care for themselves due to chronic illness or disability.
Living Alone: For those folks who are able to remain in their own homes, it's important to check out the safety of their environment. Perhaps they should now have a first floor bathroom and bedroom. Safety response necklaces or systems may have to be put into place. It may also make sense to look into the cost of programs like Meals on Wheels for meal options and maybe an in-home aide for periodic check-ins and extra care.
Nursing Home: There are many nursing homes to choose from which is why it's so important to do your research. Once you select the location and size of the facility it's important to review the services offered. Some services will meet the specific health needs of the individual but some services could improve the quality of life, which is an important component to also consider. Be sure to observe the staff and ask the home about the hiring process and if anyone has a record of mistreatment or abuse. There should be a licensed nurse at the facility at all hours, every single day. Reviews online can also be a great way to determine the reputation of a nursing home.
Medicare/Medicaid: The website, Medicare.gov, states that Medicare generally doesn't cover long-term care stays in a nursing home. Even if Medicare doesn’t cover your nursing home care, you’ll still need Medicare for hospital care, doctor services, and medical supplies while you’re in the nursing home. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. According to the website, most (but not all) nursing homes accept Medicaid payment. Even if you pay out-of-pocket or with long-term care insurance, you may eventually "spend down" your assets while you’re at the nursing home, so it’s good to know if the nursing home you chose will accept Medicaid.
Tax Deduction: The costs of qualified long-term care, including nursing home care, are deductible as medical expenses to the extent that they, along with other medical expenses, exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). You may be able to claim a federal tax credit that will enable you to take up to $3,000 off the cost of in-home care or day care. Another option is the flexible spending account (FSA), which lets you pay for a certain amount of care each year with pretax dollars.
With elder care costs continually on the rise, financial planning has become ever more crucial to the economic well-being of adult children responsible for the care of their elderly parents. Don't wait until the last minute -- start planning now to ensure the future care of your parents.