New research in the New Year reveals that the costs of long-term care in Florida, and across the nation, has increased and shows no sign of stopping. In just ten years, the cost  of a skilled nursing facility has increased by fifty percent, with an increase of over five percent just last year. While this is a concerning statistic for Older Americans and their loved ones, having this information early can be beneficial, as it gives us time to plan for the long-term care we may need in the future.

How do we prepare ourselves and the Older Americans we care about? The truth is that there is never a time that is “too early” to begin to plan and prepare for long-term care. Let us share with you four ways that you can plan for the rising costs of long-term care and protect yourself and your loved ones in the New Year.

  1. Learn what long-term care is. We find that many of our senior clients and their children are not aware of the different types of long-term care. Long-term care is different from health care. Although it can meet a health care need, it more often includes services that offer the person increased support. In fact, long-term care is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “a range of services and supports you may need to meet your personal care needs. Most long-term care is not medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).”
  2. Begin to identify the costs of long-term care in Florida. In addition to learning what long-term care is, it is important to identify how much it costs. Unfortunately, Medicare is not designed to cover most of the costs associated with long-term care. While Medicare is the main health insurance for the majority of Older Americans today, it normally covers only acute health care costs. This means that a home health aide, assisted living facility rent or skilled nursing home room bill will need to be paid out of pocket. Do not wait to take a look at the AARP Long-Term Care Calculator to gain a better understanding of what care could cost you and your loved ones.
  3. Florida estate planning is extremely important, but it is not enough!  Each of us needs estate planning. Your estate plan can help you address and plan for both potential incapacity and death. An estate plan alone, however, is not enough to prepare for the rising costs of long-term care. You need to work with your elder law attorney to determine how you will find good care and be able to afford it should the need arise in the future.
  4. While you should plan ahead, you can get help in a crisis. Planning ahead for the rising costs of long-term care is critical. You can work with your elder law attorney to develop a plan to know just what you will do should the need for long-term care arise. The earlier you plan, the more solutions that may be available to you to implement. While planning ahead is the ideal scenario, many of us do not realize we need this type of planning until a crisis occurs. Even if you are in the midst of a crisis, do not wait to contact an elder law attorney who can answer your long-term care questions.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. It is not easy to think about a future that could include long-term care or to know how you will manage it. We encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting so that we may help you find the information you need for yourself and the Older Americans you care about in Florida.