There is such variety in the quality of nursing homes that it is absolutely essential to take care when making a selection for a loved one. Weighing the facility’s track record, location to family members, available amenities, perspective of current residents, and other factors is critical. It is not a stretch to say that the life of your relative is on the line, and it is well worth it to take all the available time to make the appropriate choice.
But as far too many Illinois families know, there often is not much available time. Many seniors suffer a fall, stroke, heart attack, or other accident that forces them to move into a facility where they can receive around the clock assistance right away. Adult children, other relatives, and friends often have to help make a nursing home decision almost immediately.
Prepare Ahead of Time
While it is impossible to know exactly what the future holds, it is never a bad idea to conduct some basic research ahead of time to understand the long-term care process for your or a loved one. Investigation does not mean that the need for nursing home care is automatic. Instead, it is just a pragmatic step to prepare for an uncertain future.
Deciding on reasonable facilities is just one of many questions to consider. For one thing, there any many different types of long-term care settings, each offering different levels of care. Understanding the distinctions is helpful.
On top of that, finances must be accounted for. Where will the money come from to pay for the care? Long-term care costs can be quite significant, and many seniors do not have the resources to pay for it on their own–at least not for long. In addition, Medicare, which provides healthcare for many seniors, actually does not cover most long-term skilled nursing home stays (only short rehab needs). Instead, that burden falls to Medicaid. Qualification for Medicaid is far different than Medicare, as it is based on financial need and not age. Qualifying for Medicaid often requires one to “spend down” their assets. This can result in a family home or other assets being lost. Steps can be taken to protect some of those assets, but it is usually only possible when an estate planning attorney is consulted who can use specialized legal tools (like a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust) to guard against future uncertainty.
One helpful resources to browse with regard to all of these issues actually comes directly from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a website: www.longtermcare.gov. The site has a wide range of information about types of long-term care, making reasonable choices, and understanding the related finances..
The attorneys at our firm have worked with countless families whose loved ones suffered serious injury (or even death) as a result of poor nursing home care. Considering the stakes and the prevalence of mistreatment, we urge all local residents to familiarize themselves with these long-term care issues as early as possible to give your loved one the best chance possible of receiving appropriate care free of error.
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