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When Should You Start Planning for Long-Term Care?

04.07.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Planning for long-term care is an emotional and overwhelming task.  It is difficult to accept aging and even more difficult to accept that at some point in our lives we will be dependent on others for help doing things we find easy to do today.  For most of us, talking about death is difficult, but I have found that talking about long-term care is even more taboo.  For many of our elderly loved ones, mine included, their biggest fear is being “thrown into a nursing home.” 

Starting the conversation early to talk about what our loved one’s goals are for aging, passing on a legacy, and receiving care can be empowering.  It puts the person who is going to need the care at the head of the conversation.  If long-term care and asset protection planning is started early, the person has the capacity to work side by side with an elder law attorney to create a plan that matches wishes.  An elder law attorney can help your loved one understand the various considerations for long-term care planning including gifting, cost of care, in-home care, and sources of funding for care needs.  It enables the person to make informed decisions and to have peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place that can be shared with their family before a traumatic event occurs or health declines.

Many families wait to start the planning process for years after mom or dad has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Families typically call me when they are burned out from being the caregivers for mom or dad and they need to admit mom or dad into a facility to receive care.  This is considered crisis planning and puts more stress on the family than is necessary.  At that point, we have to assess assets, income, and care needs to determine what level of care is needed, where mom or dad receive such care, and how much it is going to cost.  Then we need to determine how to pay for it. 

With the average skilled nursing facility costing upwards of $8,000+ per month, the typical person’s savings and income will not last long.  This creates a tremendous amount of stress as family members try to figure out how to afford mom or dad’s care. 

Early planning can help reduce some of the stress.  An elder law attorney can help families evaluate where mom or dad is at in the aging process and put a plan in place for what happens as care needs change.  By collaborating with advisors such as financial advisors, accountants, doctors, and others, an elder law attorney can provide peace of mind to elderly individuals and their families that a plan is in place that will accommodate changing health situations and care needs. 

Henningson & Snoxell has elder law attorneys who are able to help you and your loved ones start the conversation.  Contact them today to schedule your initial consult. 

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