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Planning for long-term care for your aging parents

At some point in your life, a parent or loved one may become incapable of performing everyday tasks.

For instance, your father may develop Parkinson’s disease, which can leave him shaky on his feet. He may no longer be able to take out the trash, or carry a load of clothes to the laundry room.

Or perhaps your mother’s arthritic knee will become so painful that she needs to use a walker. Simple tasks like making dinner or grocery shopping may become overwhelmingly difficult.

What are your and your parents - options?

A careful assessment of your parent’s needs - as well as what his financial situation looks like - can help you determine the proper course of action.

Family caregivers

It’s not unusual for one adult child to take on the bulk of the responsibility for elderly parents. This can be a temporary measure, but as your parent needs more and more care, there will likely come a time where you will need to look for additional help.

Hiring a home care agency

There are many companies that provide in-home help and care for seniors. Employees of these companies are typically fully vetted via a background check, and are bonded.

Sometimes home health care is covered by Medicare, which means:

  • You need to know how many hours of care per day and/or week Medicare will cover
  • You need to use a Medicare-certified home health agency

Rates can vary from one agency to another, so it’s good to get rates from a number of agencies if you will be paying out of pocket. Also make sure you know each agency’s minimum hour requirement – usually it’s at least a 2 hour minimum, but it can vary.

And if your parent is going to require help on weekends and holidays, make sure the agency covers those days.

Hiring an independent caregiver

While this is typically a less expensive option, there are some cons:

  • He may not be licensed or bonded
  • He may not be up-to-date on vaccinations
  • He may not be covered by Medicare

Sometimes a family friend who is known and trusted can step into this role.

Assisted living or nursing home

This is by far and away the most expensive option. Depending on where your parent lives, assisted living costs vary from $32,000 to $69,000 per year.

And if your parent needs the additional care of a nursing home, the annual cost varies from $54,000 to $281,000 – for a semi-private room. Private rooms are even more costly.

How are your parents going to pay for it?

While Medicare will help cover up to 100 days in a nursing home, it will not pay for long-term care. Medicaid may cover nursing home care once your parent has spent his own funds down to a predetermined level.

As you can see, long-term care for your aging parents can be expensive – and complicated. Getting professional advice and planning for it today – even making it part of an estate plan – can be beneficial for everyone involved.

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