Long term care continues to be a topic that many Floridians simply do not know enough about and do not know how to protect themselves against its costs. “Long-term care” deals with the issues surrounding the advanced aging process. From mobility and cognitive challenges to relocation and potential loss of net worth, it is a serious issue that we need to address as early as possible to be able to effectively plan for.
The reason why is simple, yet hard to face. On average 1 in 2 Americans will need some form of long-term care by the age of 70. Whether they are facing a dementia diagnosis, a broken hip from a fall, or the progression of an existing condition, they will need more help as they age. Unfortunately, most Older Americans mistakenly believe that Medicare will help pay for the associated costs of healthcare. This is not the case. Medicare is an acute payor system. It provides very little help should a Floridian’s long-term care requirements include ongoing home care or skilled nursing care.
November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. During this month, and throughout the year in our practice, our experienced Florida estate planning and elder law attorneys help Florida residents successfully navigate issues just like these to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the financial legacy they want to leave. We know how difficult this realization can be for you as you understand this planning is essential. Let us share six tips for long-term care planning that we share with our clients, friends, family, and local professionals in our community that can help you understand the need for long-term care and how to plan for it.
1. Are you having issues driving? As we age, driving becomes more difficult. It is not just the physical act of driving, but also, response times and observations. The lack of responsiveness can be a sign that there is an underlying condition going on that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
2. How is your day-to-day health? Observe yourself, your spouse, as well as your parents if you are visiting, taking time to see how you are doing throughout the day. Are mornings easier? Do you go to sleep after dinner? How quickly can you move between tasks?
3. Can you easily prepare meals? Be on the lookout for whether this is becoming an increasingly complicated task.
4. How many medicines are you taking? Medicines increase for many Older Americans. Medications and prescription management are a part of long-term care planning. Be careful to make sure all of your doctors know what you are taking to avoid duplications and expirations. As we think about how to successfully age in place, know that in Florida there are many pharmacies now that will organize medications by day and time as well as provide easier to open pill containers.
5. Is your Florida estate planning up to date? A long-term care crisis can occur at any time. You do not want to be left in the position that you no longer have the capacity to create the plan you want for yourself and your legacy. The documents within your planning, such as a Florida durable power of attorney, will be necessary in a crisis should you need a trusted person to make decisions for you. What documents do you have included in your estate plan? Who is your decision maker? Do you have a relationship with your Florida attorney so that you may turn to him or her in a crisis?
6. Have you created a plan for long-term care? It is never too early to plan for long-term care. Although this can be a difficult conversation to have, it is never too early to talk to your Florida elder law attorney about what you want so you can both be prepared for the future and create a plan that will allow you to reach your goals.
We want you to know that we are here to help you answer these questions. We can work with you, as well as your loved ones, now and any time throughout the year. Do not wait to contact us to ask us your questions.