With the life expectancy here in Maryland – currently 79 years old – continuing to climb higher every year, Long Term Care Planning cannot be ignored. More and more adults are living longer, healthier, and more active lives than ever before. The U.S. population is aging, and this changing dynamic across the country has led to the inception of a new branch of law, Elder Law.
- 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States every single day.
- By 2040, there will be more than 80 million Americans ages 65 and older (currently about 54 million).
- By 2040, the number of adults ages 85 and older will more than double, reaching 15 million (currently about 7 million).
- By 2040, about one in five Americans will be age 65 or older, up from about one in eight in 2000.
What is Elder Law?
To a certain extent, aging adults have different legal needs than younger adults. Elder law is a very specialized area of law concerning aging adults, combining elements of estate planning, long term care planning, asset protection, adult guardianship (conservatorship), trusts, probate, skilled nursing care, nursing home care, and much more. Essentially, elder law planning is for anyone who needs help with planning related to growing older.
In this article, we are going to focus on one particular aspect of elder law, long term care planning.
What Is Long Term Care Planning?
At some point in our lives, about 60 percent of us will require some form of long term care. This includes a variety of services designed to help an individual live independently and safely for as long as possible until they can no longer perform everyday activities, such as getting dressed, driving to appointments, making meals, etc., on their own as the result of injury, condition, or illness.
The best time to start thinking about long term care planning is before you need it. It’s almost impossible to predict if and when you will need long term care, which is why advanced planning is so important. Unexpected illnesses, accidents, and injuries can happen at any time, suddenly altering your long term needs. Planning ahead allows you to think about what would happen if you become injured or seriously ill, gives you time to research services in and around your community, and allows you to make important decisions for yourself while you are still able.
- Housing: Where will you live as you age? There are several options to consider, including aging in place (staying in your home as long as possible), living with a friend or relative, and assisted living or nursing home facilities.
- Personal Care: How will you care for yourself (bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, moving around, etc.)? While some facilities will provide care, such as assisted living or nursing home facilities, those choosing to age in place will need to think strategically about how they are cared for on a daily basis. Personal care options include paid in-home services (nurses or home health care aides), or unpaid support from friends and relatives.
- Finances: How will you pay for your own care? Long term care can be expensive. Financing options include personal funds (savings, pension, stocks, etc.), government health insurance programs like Medicaid, Social Security, Veteran’s Association benefits, and private financing options like long term care insurance.
Not sure how to start long term care planning? It is incredibly beneficial to work with an attorney specializing in elder law planning in Maryland to help you frame the questions and guide you to make the right decisions for you.
Who Needs Long Term Care?
It is difficult to predict who will need long term care. However, there are certain risk factors that should be considered when evaluating the need for long term care planning.
- Age: Risk of injury and illness generally increases as people get older. So, as a general rule of thumb it is best to start looking into elder law options when you turn 55 (or are already older than 55). The longer you wait in life, the more you run the risk of not being protected if you unexpectedly pass away or lose capacity.
- Health: If you have experienced a serious injury requiring care, or were diagnosed with an illness that will eventually require care (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or other cognitive impairment), you should consider talking to an elder care attorney.
- Elderly Parent: Do you have an aging parent that is disabled, has medical concerns, or requires care? Children with elderly parents should also begin to explore options available for their parents.
Before you make any decisions about long term care, it can be beneficial to talk to:
- Your friends and family
- Your doctor
- A counselor
- A social worker
- An elder law attorney
Hiring an Long Term Care Planning Attorney in Maryland
PathFinder Law Group is a law firm in Towson, Maryland specializing in Elder Law. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs. Our team can assist with all aspects of elder law and estate planning, including: Estate Planning Documents, Long Term Care Planning, Retirement Planning, Assisted Living & Nursing Home Care, Asset Protection & Preservation, Guardianship, Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney (to address financial control issues), Advance Medical Directive (to help with health care decisions), Medicaid & Medical Assistance, Trusts, and Probate.
To contact PathFinder Law Group about your Long Term Care Planning needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.
- “The US Population Is Aging.” Urban Institute, 3 Apr. 2015, www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/program-retirement-policy/projects/data-warehouse/what-future-holds/us-population-aging.