It wasn't that long ago when there were no
alternatives to nursing homes for those who were no longer able
to take care of themselves and live independently, or had family
to care for them.
Today, there are many possibilities for the elderly and infirm.
These include home healthcare, adult daycare, elder foster homes,
adult congregate living communities, board care and lifecare
communities. The choice depends on the level of care needed,
insurance and what is financially feasible.
Sometimes, it's a matter of personal preference, but careful
review by the individual and his or her family is necessary.
Regardless of financial or health status, many people who have
carefully orchestrated the details of their lives suddenly find
themselves unable to manage their financial or personal lives.
They need varying amounts of assistance - just a little help
with organization and planning, or more help with everyday tasks.
Either way, it makes sense for adult children to plan ahead
to help ease the transition that may become necessary in their
It is often difficult, however, for adult children, who have
their own family and business responsibilities, to take the
time to plan for the care of an elderly parent. Even when caring
middleaged children want to assist their elders, they may be
geographically distanced or they may have difficulty dealing
with the myriad of details and paperwork associated with homecare,
insurance, financing and everything else that takes time from
their own busy lives. There may be some emotional obstacles
to overcome as well.
First, be sure you're familiar with your parents' financial,
insurance and legal affairs. This is critical because a plan
of care must be developed in view of an individual's resources.
Provisions of Medicaid homecare, for example, depend an financial
Next, be sure you have answers to these questions before making
plans for eldercare:
- Is there an existing trust? What are its provisions?
- Is there an annuity that would increase income
and help cover the cost of healthcare?
- Are there life insurance policies that have cash
- Are elderly parents eligible for Social Security
- Do they have long term care insurance?
- Research whether there are any insurance gaps by
comparing a parent's private policies (it any exist) with Medicare.
Is it possible to increase or decrease medical benefits in the Medigap
Policy? Are they overinsured? What are the conditions of care if
covered by an HMO? Is there prescription coverage and, if so, at
what cost vs. out-of-pocket prescription costs?
The key to decision making is
to know the facts, including state and federal tax laws, personal
financial and legal status. Plan ahead and don't be afraid to
ask questions. Most important, before making any arrangements,
consult with attorneys who specialize in elder law, accountants
and other professionals who are experienced in geriatric issues,
problems and solutions.