Elder Law

Elder Care

When parents or family members get older, they eventually need help with their daily needs. Even independent and healthy seniors can benefit from some form of elder care to help them do the things they can no longer do alone. Some older adults may need full-time professional care to ensure their well-being in the home or a nursing facility.

It can be difficult to make decisions for older parents and loved ones. Understanding the health care options can help you make the right choice. For more information about the elder care options in your area, talk to an elder care attorney for legal advice.

What Kind of Elder Care Is Available?

Elder care refers to the care options and services to help older people live comfortably and safely. Elder care options can range from basic help with shopping or transportation to long-term care. Some older people may try to resist help from caregivers, but care services may be necessary for safety and security.

There are different levels of elder care, including skilled health care and unskilled help. Types of elder care include:

  • In-home care
  • Home health care
  • Adult daycare
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Family caregivers
  • Special needs care
  • Memory care (for Alzheimer’s or dementia)

Senior Home Care

Older adults generally remain in their own homes instead of going to a care facility for senior home care. The level of care depends on their care needs. In-home care can include occasional visits or custodial care. Skilled care providers may be able to provide some medical services, including nursing care, physical therapy, wound care, and catheter care.

Non-skilled care can help with providing activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs include basic personal care, like eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, and dressing. Instrumental activities of daily living are independent activities like cooking, shopping, housework, and managing finances.

Nursing Home Care

Nursing home care or assisted living is provided in a residential care setting. The level of care and support services can depend on the health and independence of the resident. In a nursing home, skilled nursing staff provide custodial care, rehabilitation care, and help with activities of daily living. Nursing home residents may be unable to care for themselves independently and need more supervised medical and mental health care.

Assisted living is generally for more independent older adults, who may need daily help but do not need full nursing home care. With assisted living, residents generally have independent rooms with shared common areas. Services can include meals, housekeeping, security, and social activities.

How Can I Pay for Elder Care?

Elder care is expensive. Even with insurance and government programs, elder care can be challenging to afford. The quality of care is often reflected in the price. More expensive assisted living and nursing homes generally have more services, nicer facilities, and higher staff-to-patient ratios.

Affordable care can be limited. According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the average monthly cost of care in 2016 was:

  • $7,698 for a private room in a nursing home
  • $3,628 for a unit in an assisted living facility

With the increasing aging population, long-term care will likely get more expensive. Paying for elder care can quickly drain an older person’s life savings, Social Security, and retirement benefits. Health insurance and disability insurance generally only provide limited coverage and few long-term care benefits. Some government programs can help older adults pay for care.

Can Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Elder Care?

Medicare and Medicaid are government programs that can help pay some elder care costs. Medicare is a federal program for people over the age of 65 and younger people with disabilities. Medicare generally doesn’t cover assisted living but, it can cover healthcare-related costs.

Medicaid is a federal and state program based on income. Some older people with limited income may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid benefits are different in every state, with some states helping with in-home elder care, assisted living, or nursing home care. If you want to know about the government program options for elder care in your state, contact your Area Agencies on Aging, or talk to a local elder care attorney for legal help.

Do Older Parents Need a Power of Attorney?

power of attorney is an important estate planning tool to allow someone else to act on your behalf. A power of attorney designates an agent to make legal decisions for the principal (person). A power of attorney can help older people who need help managing their finances and signing documents.

medical power of attorney allows the agent to make medical decisions if you cannot communicate your wishes. This is like an advance health care directive or living will. Older people should have a health care power of attorney with someone they trust who will carry out their wishes. 

Adult children of older adults often have trouble managing all the life changes when a parent can no longer care for themselves. There are legal, financial, and health care decisions that have to be made in a short period. In some cases, the older family member tries to resist any changes that may be necessary.

Talking to an elder care attorney can help you understand your options and guide you through the process. For more information about elder care assistance where you live, contact a local elder care attorney for help.

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