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It is never too early to plan for long-term care

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

People who live in New Jersey may be optimistic about how they think they will spend their senior years, and most probably believe they will be able to continue to live independently. Unfortunately, statistics reveal a different picture. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of Americans who reach 65 may need an average of at least three years of long-term care.

Genworth, a financial security company, released its findings about how expensive long-term care can be. For example, according to its 2013 Cost of Care Survey, the national average for a private room in a nursing home is $83,950 annually, an increase of more than 24 percent over the past five years. The cost of a semi-private room is not much cheaper at $75,405; in fact, the average cost went up 23 percent from five years ago. Full-time health aide costs average $44,479 per year.

Those who think Medicare will take care of long-term care costs might want to think again. Medicare does not play a significant role in handling long-care costs, leaving it up to individuals to cover most of their expenses if they were to become disabled. Some choose to save money and pay their own way, although that might not be realistic because of the expense. Others purchase long-term insurance in order to transfer the risk. In addition, people might want to prepare other documents, such as powers of attorney just in case they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

November is Long-term Care Awareness Month, and now is as good a time as any to start panning for the future. An elder law attorney may be able to help clients plan for the future by setting up wills or trusts.

Source: My San Antonio, "Start planning for long-term care costs", Nick Labarbera, November 12, 2013

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