Getting Real About Long-Term Care for The Boomer Generation
While no one likes to think about it, planning for nursing home care is now a reality for the boomer generation. St. Louis elder law attorney Stephen Jones reveals how seniors can age with dignity and secure the care they desire should a health care crisis strike.
St. LOUIS – May 13-19 is National Skilled Nursing Care Week. As the 78 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 in the United States enter their retirement years, planning ahead for long-term care has become a matter of urgency for an otherwise strong-willed and independent generation.
“Baby boomers have their heads in the sand about long-term care,” says Stephen Jones, an elder law attorney in the St. Louis area. “After bootstrapping their way to financial independence, the thought of losing their mental or physical abilities and having to rely on someone for help is simply unimaginable to them,” he adds.
Unfortunately, Jones says that failing to plan ahead can lead to even more unimaginable situations in the future.
Excessive Nursing Home Costs
Nursing home care in the St. Louis area can run in excess of $8,000 per month and is not covered by private insurance or Medicare in most cases. Many times, seniors can find themselves blowing through their entire life savings during the first year of care alone, cautions Jones.
Unnecessary Loss of Assets
Jones says most seniors are in the dark about how to properly protect their assets should they need nursing home care. Most worry about losing their homes or their inheritance for their families and therefore turn to DIY asset protection strategies like gifting money away or adding family members to titles to avoid seizures from nursing homes.
“Many strategies that people use are risky, especially considering that there are look-back periods and penalties for “asset protection strategies” gone wrong. The job of an elder law attorney is to help seniors legally protect their assets should they require nursing home care in the future. With proper guidance and the use of tools like irrevocable trusts, seniors can keep what they’ve worked so hard for while still qualifying for public benefits to help pay for care,” he adds.
Wait Lists for Care
Jones also warns that many facilities, including VA nursing homes have wait lists that could limit a senior’s options if they wait until a medical crisis occurs to choose a desired nursing home.
“Don’t just assume that a nursing home with your desired amenities will be available if you have a health scare and can no longer live on your own,” warns Jones. “Some facilities have wait lists up to 3-5 years,” he adds.
Aging with Dignity Means Planning Ahead
Jones believes that baby boomers can age with dignity, have a say in their care, and preserve their independence simply by planning ahead.
Through the use of legal tools such as Powers of Attorneys, Health Care Directives, and Trusts, Jones says that boomers can make their wishes clearly known to family members, anticipate nursing home costs, protect their assets, and have a plan to go into the facility of their choice should a health care crisis occur.
“No one likes to think about the prospect of ever going into a nursing home, but the time to plan for it is now. Doing so helps to ensure you get the care and treatment you actually want, should something serious happen,” says Jones.
For more information about National Skilled Nursing Care Week, visit The American Health Care Association. For more information about elder law attorney Stephen C. Jones, visit JonesElderLaw.com or call (636) 812-2575.