Massachusetts Elder Law Experts
Focused on the Needs of Fitchburg AND LEOMINSTER Families
Elder law is the focus on the estate planning needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include senior housing and home care, long-term care, nursing homes, guardianships and health care documents, Medicare and Medicaid.
Senior Housing & Long-Term Care Options
The Long Term Care Dilemma
As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Nursing home private pay now costs well over $100,000 per year and the average stay is slightly more than three years. A nursing home might tell you to privately pay until personal (or family) assets are depleted, then try to qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.
Proper planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children, legally, without tricks or gimmicks, and without giving everything away.
Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than nine percent of nursing home care in this country.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid, which in Massachusetts is known as MassHealth, is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a form of welfare. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Masshealth insurance programs available in Massachusetts, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs provides a wealth of information for seniors and care givers.
We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid eligibility may be an option.
Senior Housing Options
Helping a parent move to senior housing can often be intimidating and/or time consuming. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that what has been home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime’s accumulation of “stuff.”
Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver’s seat.
- Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
- Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
- Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.