Level of Care Options For Seniors

One of the greatest concerns for retirees and the elderly we serve is that of long term care.  Approximately, two-thirds of seniors will need long-term care at some point in their life and many have not planned for this likelihood. For many it is an emotional and unpleasant topic to broach, but planning ahead provides choices and helps mitigate the devastating financial effects of long-term care expenses. Planning ahead also helps people avoid making bad decisions during more stressful times when health has already declined to the point of needing assistance. This blog post will focus on long-term care options available in Louisiana.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is projected to be approximately 79 years by 2015 and is projected to continue to rise.  Someone already 55 years of age has a higher life expectancy of around 84 years.  Since health declines as we age, we become more likely to need help with everyday activities

There are several different levels of care available to elders as they age depending on their need for assistance.  Each level of care may include a medical and health component, a personal care component, and/or a social and recreational component.

The first and least invasive type of care is adult day care which costs, on average, $18,200 per year.  These services may include medical and health services, social services or both.  This is a supportive group environment for seniors with cognitive and/or functional impairments.

Home care is another type of assistance available to seniors.  The average cost for home care in Louisiana is around $18 per hour. If around-the-clock care is needed, the cost can exceed $13,000 per month.  This type of assistance allows the senior to “age in place” as an outside service comes into the home to help.  Caregivers are hired through a variety of methods including agency, registry or private hire.

The next level of care is an assisted living facility (ALF).  The average cost in for a stay in an ALF in Louisiana is approximately $38,000 per year.  Depending upon the chosen level of care, an ALF may provide services ranging from care management, assistance with every day activities, housekeeping, medication management, security, transportation, meals and social and recreational activities.

Finally, nursing homes are available to those who require the most assistance.  The average annual cost in Louisiana for nursing home care is around $54,000. Some nursing homes are considerably more expensive. Nursing homes typically provide a secure environment and services to meet the physical, medical, and social needs of their residents. These services include room and board; nursing care; medication management; personal care; and social and recreational activities.  Many nursing home residents require assistance with multiple everyday activities (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring in and out of chairs or beds, and continence) and/or have cognitive limitations due to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  Nursing homes, like ALFs, are subject to state and federal regulations.  Many nursing homes accept payment from Medicaid, which helps cover the costs of nursing home services.

Determining the appropriate level and type of care is one of many challenges facing seniors and their loved ones.  Other challenges include figuring out how to pay for the care, understanding what Medicare will and won’t pay, protection from Medicaid spend-down, and making sure that the right legal documents are in place to carry out the senior’s wishes. We have helped numerous families overcome these challenges through proper legal planning, and by taking a comprehensive look at each situation to determine the best course of action for the senior.

If you have questions or would like more information about options for care or strategies to help preserve assets from Medicaid spend-down contact attorney, John Sirois at 985-580-2520 or . You can also learn more about Louisiana Medicaid in John’s book, Louisiana Retirement and Estate Planning or visiting the Medicaid and Long-Term Care section of John’s website www.LouisianaEstatePlanner.com.