What is Long Term Care And Why You Need to Plan Early


Are you a healthy, active, and successfully retired senior living in Florida?  You have probably completed your comprehensive estate planning with your Florida estate planning and elder law attorney and believe you are set for the future.  However, what will happen if that future includes your inability to take care of yourself and incapacities including mental and physical? Have you thought about long-term care? Maybe your adult children have began talking to you about long-term plans. No matter how much money you have, at some time you may have to address the fact that you are unable to care for yourself and must rely on others.

What is long-term care, and will you really need it someday? Long-term care is the type of healthcare people receive when their care needs extend beyond acute care or hospitalization. Acute care focuses on the familiar and traditional cycle of illness. People are sick, they visit their doctor to receive a diagnosis and care, they go home and take the doctor’s advice and prescribed medicine, and in most situations, they get better on their own. If people have had a serious injury, surgery or other medical event and must be in a hospital setting, they receive treatment, a short round of therapies, and then they are up and on their way as soon as possible.

However, what happens when people (no matter their age) do not recover from an acute illness? Or what happens when people are unable to independently leave the hospital or rehabilitation facility? In addition, another serious question is what happens when seniors or people of any age receive a healthcare diagnosis that predicts there will come a time in the future when they will not have the mental capacity or physical ability to care for themselves? This is when long-term care may be needed.

Long-term care addresses the needs of people, often seniors, who lose their ability to independently perform their Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) or Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). In the following paragraphs we will share more about both IADLs and ADLs. 

Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADL) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cooking
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning the house
  • Paying bills or managing finances

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) include, but are not limited to, the following actions people would need to be able to accomplish for themselves:

  • Feeding 
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Walking

How will the above long-term care be paid for? The costs for this type of long-term care, sometimes referred to as custodial care, is something most insurance policies, including Medicare, do not pay for outside of a specific timeframe. Thus, it becomes the financial responsibility of the person in need of care. The exception, and something you should look into, is that there is long-term care insurance available. The cost of long-term care varies by state, region, and the type of care needed. You can learn more about the cost in Florida by using this link to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

When you created your estate plan, you wanted to be prepared for a time when you might not be able to make decisions for yourself and, ultimately, decide the legacy you want to leave. As with estate planning, it is important to address long-term care planning as soon as possible so that all your long-term care needs will be met in the future and so that you can ultimately protect your family and the legacy you want to leave behind. By working with your experienced Florida estate planning and elder law attorney, he can advise you on:

  • How to find the type of care you need,
  • The type of decision-maker you need in place to support you,
  • The estate planning documents your chosen decision maker needs,
  • Purchase of long-term care insurance,
  • Community and state programs such as Medicaid to help you afford the cost,
  • How to qualify for assistance programs since they are based on health, income, and asset eligibility standards.

Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.

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