Greatest Risk for Seniors
Written by: Christian N. Horde, J.D., LL.M.
The greatest risk for seniors age 65 and older is the need for long-term care services. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services projections estimate that 70% of Americans who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care in their lives.[i] However, many elderly people fail to properly plan for long-term care even though many of them will eventually need it.
Long-term care services typically include assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, dressing, ambulating, transferring, or eating. It can also include assistance with other services such as shopping, cooking meals, providing transportation, paying bills, managing medications, performing household chores, supervision and so on.
Seniors typically all share the following concerns:
- Remaining independent in the home without intervention from others.
- Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care.
- Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets and income
Despite the shared concerns, long-term care planning is often not talked about or planned for by seniors. Understandably, most people do not want to think about a future of poor health, disability, and passing away.
The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller hears from many who are dealing with long-term care needs for their elderly loved ones. It often revolves around the issue that retirement savings being eaten up due to long-term care costs. And in most circumstances, there is not enough income to pay for outside care services.
The cost of care can be significant. Oftentimes, family caregivers, friends, and community organizations provide most of the care services at little to no cost, up to a certain point. However, these volunteers become overwhelmed and usually cannot handle the scope of the services needed for many long-term care recipients as their health declines and their needs go up. And for some there are no family or community support that can provide care to them. At that juncture, commercial paid services need to be used which includes: home care companies, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing homes.
Genworth Insurance Company provides an annual survey on the median costs of care nationwide[ii]. The latest survey from 2019 shows the following for a single individual:
- Homemaker Services – $4,290.00 a month
- Home Health Aides – $4,385.00 a month
- Assisted Living – $4,051.00 a month
- Nursing Home Semi Private Room – $7,513.00 a month
- Nursing Home Private Room – $8,517.00 a month
Currently, Florida’s median cost is $102,565.00 a year for a Nursing Home Semi Private Room. These long-term care expenses are typically not what retirement savings were intended to pay for. Long-term care can eat up retirement savings and can impoverish surviving spouses. It can be detrimental to family caregivers as well, where the stresses of caregiving over a long period of time leads to their own health concerns. Caregivers are often so focused on taking care of the elder that they neglect dealing with their own personal health.
Don’t ignore the financial and physical costs of long-term care. The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller offers ways that families can plan for the crisis of long-term care as well as identifying various sources of funding, such as Medicaid and VA, and support in the community. We help families plan for the future so they can be confident and secure going forward.