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Rising Costs of Long-term Care Threaten Retirement for Many Americans

Many Florida residents know that long-term skilled nursing care is getting expensive – really expensive. And if you have looked at the statistics, then you know this trend is only going to get worse over the next 20 years. While this is disturbing for those already well into their retirement years, it is becoming a real source of worry for Americans approaching retirement in the near future. Florida elder law attorneys focus on reducing these fears and helping people plan for retirement with confidence.

What is long-term care?

We should probably distinguish what we mean by “long-term care.” There are a number of options for those requiring healthcare. Some people may only need a little assistance with remembering medication or getting around. These individuals may opt for assisted living or supportive living environments, where they are basically renting an apartment with added features that make it possible to maintain autonomy. Others, however, may require more intensive medical care on a long-term basis. These individuals may require 24-hour care, including medication, assistance with feeding, bathing and other activities of daily living. Long-term care can also consist of dementia care, nursing services, and treatment for chronic disease. Many long-term care facilities also offer ancillary hospice services, allowing residents to age in place, even during end-of-life stages. Such “long-term care” services are often the most expensive and difficult to find.

How much does long-term care cost?

Government estimates put the average cost of a Florida nursing home at over $80,000 per year. These numbers vary by location and are lower or higher in other states and regions. Nevertheless, Florida ranks in the higher range for nursing home costs nationally. According to research by the American Council of Life Insurers, the most recent Census suggests that by 2050 the population of Americans over 85 will have tripled. So, what should we expect long-term care to look like in just 30 years? One can readily see the problem developing.

How can seniors reduce the cost of nursing home care?

While there is no way to directly change the amount a nursing home charges for care, seniors can be proactive and take advantage of all the resources available to them rather than simply spending their life savings. Medicaid is the primary payer of long-term care for many Americans. The Kaiser Family Foundation has great resources and information for those contemplating nursing home residency. To qualify for Medicaid coverage, however, seniors must take action early. If a senior retires with substantial cash savings, including trusts, insurance policies with face values, and physical tangible property, then he or she should expect to pay for nursing home costs out-of-pocket.

The law allows you to protect most, if not all, of your net worth. However, to take advantage of the legal protections, you must take action early, at least five years before nursing home care is needed. If you have questions about restructuring your retirement assets to protect your life savings, contact a local elder law attorney in The Villages at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group. We are prepared to assist you today.

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