As elder law attorneys, we help people prepare for the challenges that they may face toward the end of their lives. You should certainly understand the facts as you implement a plan that you can follow if and when certain circumstances arise. With this in mind, it is important to understand the potential impact of Alzheimer’s disease.
Everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s, but many of the facts are quite surprising when you look into the subject deeply. If you would like to do just that, the Alzheimer’s Association website is a fantastic source of all different types of information about the disease. The most compelling statistic that captures your attention right away illustrates the widespread nature of this disease.
One out of every eight senior citizens has contracted Alzheimer’s disease. If this was the frequency level across the board, it would still be a significant percentage. However, the likelihood of contracting Alzheimer’s disease increases as you get older. Right around 40 percent of people that are at least 85 years of age are Alzheimer’s sufferers.
If you are thinking that you probably won’t live that long because the average lifespan is 78 or 79 years, you are working with a misconception. The overall average factors in people that die at all ages, even children. Your life expectancy rises as you get older, and according to a tool on the Social Security Administration website, if you are celebrating your 67th birthday today, your life expectancy is at least 85 years.
Coping with Alzheimer’s disease from a medical perspective is challenging to say the least. There is a lot of research being done all the time, and as we have stated, you can tap into the information that can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website to educate yourself.
Many people that experience Alzheimer’s induced dementia require a level of care that only a nursing home can provide. It may seem logical to assume that Medicare will pay for a stay in a nursing facility under these circumstances, but unfortunately, this is not the case. The program will pay for convalescent care after an injury or surgery, but it does not pay for the custodial care that you would receive in a nursing home, even if you have Alzheimer’s disease.
It is not easy to comfortably get out your checkbook to pay for an extended stay in a nursing home out of your own pocket. The exact charge varies depending on the facility and its location, but suffice to say that a private room in a nursing home may cost $60,000 to $75,000 a year in most areas. This figure can be considerably higher in some parts of the country. Nursing home costs have been rising, so the figures could be considerably larger if you need long-term care a number of years from now.
Medicaid is another government health insurance program that does pay for nursing home care. Of course, since it is intended for people with considerable financial need, there are low income and asset limits. However, a very significant percentage of people that are in nursing homes are enrolled in the Medicaid program, and many of them were never financially needy throughout their lives.
Medicaid planning is one of the most common services that we provide for our elder law clients. It is possible to position your assets out of your own name as you start to reach an advanced age with future Medicaid eligibility in mind.
Careful planning is important, because there is a five-year look-back period. If you give assets away within five years of applying for Medicaid, your eligibility is delayed, and you have to pay for the care yourself. For example, if you gave away enough to pay for two years of nursing home care within this 60 month interim, your eligibility for Medicaid would be delayed by two years.