Are You Prepared to Age in Place?

Elder Law

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Have you ever thought to yourself, or even said to your loved ones,  I never want to be “put in a home”?  Maybe you used words like assisted living, nursing home or convalescent hospital, but the sentiment applied to all of them.  You want to live at home.  Forever.  This is called aging in place.

If aging in place is your goal, then long-term planning needs to be considered, including how the house will function as you age, accommodations for the people who will care for you and how to pay for care, says the Record Online in the article “Start planning now so you can ‘age in place.’”

Many homes will need to be remodeled for aging in place, and those changes may be big or small. Typical changes include installing ramps and adding a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor. Smaller changes include installing properly anchored grab bars in the shower, improving lighting and changing floor covering to avoid problems with walkers, wheelchairs or unsteady seniors.

Choosing a caregiver and paying for care are intertwined issues. Many adult children become caregivers for aging parents, and for the most part they are unpaid. Family caregivers suffer enormous losses, including lost work, career advancement, income and savings. Stress and neglect of their own health and family is a common byproduct.

You’ll want to speak with an estate planning elder law attorney about how or if the parent may compensate the child for their caregiving. If the payment is deemed to be a gift, it will cause a penalty period, when Medi-Cal won’t pay for care should aging in place fail. A caregiver agreement drafted by an elder law estate planning attorney will allow the parents to pay without a penalty period. The child will need to report this income on their tax returns.

Another option to consider when planning for aging in place, is  the purchase of a long-term care insurance policy. If you qualify for a policy and can afford to pay for it, it is good way to protect assets and income from going towards caregiver costs. You can also relieve the family caregiver from duties or pay them for caregiving out of the insurance proceeds.

Self-paying for home care is another option, but it is expensive. The average cost of home health care in California is $25 per hour, or $600 per day. When you get to these costs, they are the same as an expensive nursing home.

Planning in advance with careful analysis of the different choices will give the individual and the family the best picture of what may come with aging in place. A better decision can be made, once all the information is clearly assessed.

Reference: Record Online (Aug. 31, 2019) “Start planning now so you can ‘age in place’”