Many of my clients are understandably wary of talking about nursing home costs. The fact that most of us will lose the ability to care for ourselves at some point or another is an easy elephant in the room to push away for another day. What causes these fears? The two most common reasons are 1. A fear of losing my independence and 2. A fear of how family or friends will react to the burden of caring for me. Both of these are valid concerns and I do not wish to make light of a sensitive and often painful topic. I do wish to convey the absolute importance of addressing the problem.
Consider: According to government statistics, a whopping 70 percent of us will need long term care eventually. Long term care can be anything from home-based care, home visits, or care in an assisted living facility or nursing home. According to longtermcare.gov, 37 percent of the U.S. population will eventually need to spend some time in a nursing home.
Nursing home costs add up quickly; the average in Utah is around $5,000 per month. Assisted living centers are less, usually $3,000 to $4,000 monthly. These costs are not covered by Medicare. Expenses may be met out of pocket, by a long term care insurance policy, or by the state through Medicaid. Medicaid is the state program that exists to cover medical costs for the impoverished. Knowing the options that exist for covering long term care expenses is crucial to forming a solid plan for the future.
The first step to planning for incapacity, regardless of age, is education. Asking questions and getting answers is often the hardest part because it represents the nod towards that big old elephant in the corner. Next, talk to family and professionals to create a plan. Even if you believe that this conversation does not apply to you, create the plan as a back-up just in case. Finally, do not be discouraged; there are solutions to these problems and the earlier they are addressed the better.
Chris Morgan is a licensed Utah attorney practicing elder law in Lehi. He can be contacted at (801) 874-5644 or http://www.elderlawutah.com.