This guest post comes from an independent living community in Denver, Colorado.
The following is a guest post from Ruth Folger Weiss, a blogger for Kearsley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
Deciding to make the move into a senior living facility is a major life decision for a family with elders. This decision should be carefully discussed prior to deciding on which community is right for your elder. With the right course of action, you'll be able to find a home that your parents or other senior family members can feel comfortable living in.
Before the Move: Prior to making a decision on a senior living facility, families and elders should:
- Plan a meeting. This should involve everyone, including your elder's doctor and the staff of the potential senior living facility you are looking into. This will not only help your parent feel better about the decision, but give them an idea of all there is to look forward to when they make their move.
- Understand what is offered. Be sure that the facility offers the care that your family member needs. Take a tour of the place and look at the physical therapy or dining facilities. Are they clean? Are they up-to-date? Are there any noticeable issues? Have a discussion with the staff to find out what their hours are like, when medications are administered, and any other questions or concerns you may have.
- Consider the commute. You'll want to plan visits to see your elder, so make sure the facility is within a close travel distance. Talk with other family members and see how long they're willing to commute to visit the senior living facility you are considering.
- Trust your gut(s). An initial reaction can weigh a lot when it comes to making this decision. Consider your first impression of the facility, as well as your elder's first impression, before you settle on a decision.
The Moving Process: Moving into a new environment can become very overwhelming, especially for the elderly. In order to make this adjustment easier becoming resident of a senior living facility, elders should:
- Be active in their new community. Senior citizens are encouraged to socialize with one another at the Kearsley Philadelphia nursing home and nursing homes around the country. It's important for seniors to get out of their apartment, stretch, and talk with other residents. Try attending an event that is going on, like a movie night or gaming hour. This will make interacting less stressful, and there will be other residents there who share a common interest!
- Ask questions. Never be afraid to state discomfort or ask questions about medications, meal times, or physical therapy. Talk with the staff at your senior living facility. They'll help you to understand your new routine and make any adjustments necessary to make you as comfortable as possible in your new home.
- Be open-minded. Moving all of your belongings into a new location and constantly being supervised might be a little overwhelming at first, but keeping an open mind and being understanding of the situation will make your transition easier. A lot of time and careful planning went into this decision. Knowing and understanding that should make the process less stressful.
After the Move: Children and grandchildren also play a role in the moving process. The family should:
- Be supportive. Having a loving family to rely on during this time is the most important thing your elder will need. Guide them through the process, answer any questions or concerns that they may have, and remind them how much you care.
- Help out with the move. Assist your loved one move in and make the space their own, but don't hand-hold. When they're all settled, leave to give them space to become acquainted with their new surroundings and neighbors.
- Keep in touch. A phone call or weekly visit will mean so much more to an elder, especially right after their move. Spend time catching up and discussing what they love about their new home. Have them introduce you to friends and staff, and see what their new daily routine looks like.
- Neglect guilt. You may feel a ping of guilt when you leave your elder in the care of someone else, but caregivers at nursing facilities are trained to care for elders. Once you've found the right community, be confident in that choice.
This guest post was submitted by Senior-Planning Services.
Qualifying for Medicaid for long-term care can feel like contending with a labyrinth of rules, exceptions to those rules, and exceptions to the exceptions. As if that were not challenging enough, Medicaid rules can also vary drastically from state to state, and as financial or living circumstances change.
Compounding the difficulty even further, those applying for Medicaid are typically under a great deal of stress and pressure as they cope with having to admit a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
The entire conceit of Medicaid is that it is a “need-based” program. This means that the Medicaid applicant must have insufficient assets to pay for their own care.
Therein lies the kernel of the problem: Since the test for whether an applicant qualifies for Medicaid benefits becomes one of evaluating their assets to see if they pass a certain financial threshold, it naturally follows that there will be a great many seniors who may fall just outside that limit disqualifying them from Medicaid.
Without guidance, these seniors on the Medicaid borderline get caught in the unenviable position of too rich to qualify, but not rich enough to afford quality care, in essence, punishing prosperity.
Medicaid Spend Down and Asset Management
Fortunately, there are concrete strategies for dealing with this issue. In general, the idea is to make the applicant eligible for benefits by bringing the assessment of their assets under the limit. This is called Medicaid “spend down.”
In a spend-down, the applicant is required to pay bills from their own funds until their funds are depleted, at which point Medicaid kicks in on the condition that other eligibility requirements are met. Here, the single smartest decision an applicant can make is to hire a Medicaid planner to assist in the procedure, because doing so counts towards the ‘spend down’ itself.
An applicant can essentially use the free money over the limit (that must be spent anyway) to get themselves approved in advance through a Medicaid planning company, while at the same time receiving professional help with the process itself. An all around win-win.
A professional can assist with the classification and management of assets to help ensure that the applicant qualifies for Medicaid while still retaining the most wealth possible.
Many are unaware that items such as personal possessions, a car, prepaid funeral expenses, Term life policies German Reparation Payments, and financial instruments like trusts set aside for the care of a disabled child, or irrevocable trusts created over 5 prior to the Medicaid request date, are NOT counted against the applicant.
Meanwhile, checking and savings accounts, assets like CDs, stocks, bonds, IRAs and mutual funds, revocable trusts, whole life insurance policies, private business and company equities, and even more, CAN all count against the applicant in qualifying for Medicaid. Click here for more FAQs.
Quite often, a senior Medicaid applicant has shared his/her life with a cherished loved one. Under complex Medicaid laws, this can affect a spouse’s ability to qualify for Medicaid, and can lead to--for example--questions about whether a spouse can keep a primary residence if the other spouse applies for Medicaid. Generally, they can.
However, in some cases the Medicaid applicant’s name must be removed from the deed. There can also be Medicaid liens and other penalties enforced against the estate, except in certain circumstances, such as in the case of a surviving spouse. These are examples of just some of the many pitfalls.
Then there is the need for providing financial statements over the last 5 years, the so-called “look-back” period. In the past, seniors would give away their money and property to qualify for Medicaid, and so the look-back requirement was created in answer to that practice.
This has placed an enormous burden on seniors, who now have to document their financial lives even beyond the scope of an average IRS audit! It also puts renewed focus on enlisting the help of financial planners who can help seniors strategically earmark funds for care earlier in life, so their loved ones are not burdened with the cost of their care years before Medicaid takes effect.
All of this sounds like a lot to tackle without help, and it is! As you can see, the complicated financial aspects of qualifying for Medicaid are often best handled by an expert. Through a combination of sound asset management and responsible long-term planning by a professional, the transition into Medicaid-sponsored care for seniors can be as smooth as it is reassuring.
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Resources for Older Adults & Caregivers via the National Council on Aging
Articles/Books of Interest:
Via the site: "Whether you’re an older adult, family helper or elder-care professional, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style can help you understand the process of aging and make scores of simple changes that support independence – in nearly any type of house, apartment or condo. Packed with checklists, shopping lists and more than a hundred key resources in the United States and Canada!"
- Take Control of Your Health: 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall
- Four Questions About Aging in Place
- Aging in Place Alone: Tips for Preventing Injuries and Isolation
- You Can Stay Home: Tips for Supporting Aging in Place
- 5 Places to Improve Access at Home
- Home Design Features That Help You to Age in Place
- Aging in Place and Choosing Care When Needed
- How to Know When It’s Time to Start Seeking Home Care
- Using Technology to Age in Place
- Home Modifications: What Medicare Will and Won’t Cover
If all goes as planned, I'll soon be unveiling a brand new website, which will include a list of services available to those of you (community and corporate professionals, elder care providers, and family caregivers alike) who are in need of elder care resources, advice, or expertise. As my husband and I continue down the long and winding path to international adoption, keeping busy is one way to keep my mind off the chasm that stands between now and becoming a family of three. I'm also being proactive: seeking ways to diversify what I'm currently doing in order to challenge myself professionally and creatively, and to have several possibilities for work that are not associated with daily deadlines or being tied to a computer for 8+ hours a day (so that I can focus on our little one). These new offerings have been requested by many friends, neighbors, family members and colleagues already, so I am simply making it a formal part of my portfolio. (Special thanks to friend and fellow blogger/entrepreneur Hayley Croom for pushing me to do this!)
Stay tuned for the website's launch, and feel free to contact me with any questions about services to be offered.
If you're like me, you're itching for the official arrival of autumn. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy a productive end to the summer season!
This month, I've had the distinct pleasure of contributing several articles to AARP's Home and Community blog, thanks to a connection I made on Twitter (a fantastic networking tool: if you're not a tweeter, I highly recommend it). The series will continue into February. So many families are in the midst of considering care for a senior family member or friend, yet so many are uninformed about or unaware of all the options. If you know someone who could benefit from the practical information I've compiled in the series thus far, please share the posts with them.