Thursday, December 10, 2009

You or Your Family Member Needs Assisted Care- Now How Do You Pay For It?

I was asked to write an article for a local publication so I thought I'd pass on the info here as well.

More often than not we prefer not to think of the time we or our family member s will need the assistance of another person or place to help with our physical or mental needs. In our minds it happens to other people but not to us.

However, it does happen and we are rarely prepared. It might be a sudden stroke, the onset of dementia, complications after surgery or a fall, macular degeneration or simply just getting more frail as we naturally age.

Now we have to pay someone to come to our homes, move in with family, move to assisted living or even to a 24 hour care facility. Costs can run from an average of $20/hr for homecare to 3 to 7 thousand or more per month.

A lifetime of savings can disappear in months and a spouse may become impoverished if the other spouse requires extended care. Medicare does not cover many costs of this type and the state welfare program, Medical , only kicks in once your savings are gone- and then your choices are limited home care or a nursing facility of their choice.

So, what are some options to pay for care? Limited space cannot afford much detail, but here are some choices:

· Long Term Care Policies, purchased prior to need, can be worth their weight in gold and well worth the premiums paid. They come in all shapes and sizes and should be geared to your personal situation and budget

· There are now both life insurance policies and annuities that have long term care riders which allow for financial benefits should long term care be needed in the future.

· There are companies that may offer lump sum payments for such things as no longer needed life policies, annuities in payout, and even interests in established CRTs. These don’t apply to everyone, but it pays to know about them in case they do.

· There are some benefits for veterans and surviving spouses under the VA non service connected Improved Pension Benefit with aid and attendance add on.

· If you need to sell assets such as appreciated real estate, there are tax saving strategies that will allow you to keep more of the value of your asset and minimize your tax obligations. These need to be put in place prior to the sale.

· There may be some foundations, churches and charities that provide support services.
· Family members may be able to chip in or you might share some services with a neighbor.

It really helps to do some checking into facilities and home care companies prior to needing them. Scrambling for information when the need is a reality might lead to bad experiences and loss of precious savings. Also, be sure you have a power of attorney document for both medical and financial decisions. Let your preferences be known to those you trust so the decision for your care is not left up to the courts and strangers.

For more information on any of the above, call Paula Straub at 760-917-0858 or email Paula at