Retiring Single

Retiring Single- Over 65- How To Make a Plan

When you are retiring single there may be a host of concerns you have. If you have no spouse or children it is doubly important that you have a plan in place for those “what if’s”.

Are You An Elder Orphan?

Sometimes referred to as elder orphans or solo-agers this is a group that is growing. In fact, according to research by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, 22% of people 65 and over are either an elder orphan or at risk of becoming one. Only 12% of the women who were 80 to 84 years old in 2010 were childless, but that will increase to 16% for that same age range in 2030, according to a report by AARP. And even those who have children may be estranged.

There are a number of concerns people may have when they are aging alone. Who will help take care of me if I get really sick? Will I die alone in a nursing home with no-one to advocate for me? If I begin to have cognitive decline who will help me manage my finances and legal issues? Will I be taken advantage of?

“I am not concerned,” said Kendra “I am perfectly capable of caring for myself. My mind is sharp and I do what I need to do to keep my body healthy also. In fact, I just ran a marathon and did quite well.”

Kendra is 70. And while we all applaud her for being in such good health at 70 the truth is things can happen that are out of your control.

Judy lived on her own until she was 91.

She cooked for herself, went to exercise class and drove where she needed to go. But a blood clot in her leg changed all of that. She went into the hospital. And due to several mistakes, that were made she returned home unable to care for even her basic needs. 24/7 care was needed. Luckily for her, her children, along with a paid caregiver stepped in to help. Without her children, she would have been forced to go into a nursing home. And she may not have had anyone to advocate for her. Besides the cost, she would not have had anyone to hire and manage the caregivers.

So how do you plan for the rest of your life when you are over 65 and single?

 

Step One: Talk to an Elder Law Attorney

Set up all of the necessary paperwork to plan for your long-term care. Your attorney can also help you connect with other professionals in the area who can help. You will probably need a financial advisor. It is also important that you have someone you really trust designated as your Power of Attorney.

Step Two: Consult with a Geriatric Care Manager

Have someone lined up who can be your advocate and make sure your needs are met. Care managers usually have a background in Nursing or Social Work. Talk to the person who is your POA to make sure they know about the Geriatric Care Manager you have chosen. If you are incapacitated someone with authority to act on your behalf would need to hire their services.

Step Three: Have a Good Support System

Having a strong social circle is important for everyone. Make sure your circle included younger people as well.

“All of my really good friends are 15 to 20 years younger than me” Edythe, 96 “I feel more alive being around younger people. They are more positive and fun to be around. Plus, when I had to stop driving last year it wasn’t a problem. There was always someone available to take me where I needed or wanted to go.”

 

Step Four: Consider Alternate Living Arrangements

Owning a home is wonderful when you are young. But do you really want to spend your time and money with upkeep and home maintenance projects?   If you really want to keep the home, have you considered roommates? Think Golden Girls!

According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. From 2005 to 2015, the older population grew 33 percent, while the number of older home-sharers jumped 88 percent.

One reason may be financial.

Many boomers have not really saved enough money for their retirement. Sharing a space can allow you to stay in a home. Or you could live in a home in the area you want to be but cannot afford on your own.

Of course, you want to make sure you are compatible.

And it is important to have a set of ground rules. If you really don’t like cats and your roommate comes home with one that could be a problem. Also, how often will the family be coming to visit? Who will be coming and how long will they stay?  Do you smoke or allow others to smoke in your home?  Do you expect we will cook together or eat independently? These are just a few of the questions you should ask.

So Where Do You Find A Compatible Roommate?

In the last few years, a new industry has begun to blossom. Companies such as Roommates4Boomers, Silvernest, and Let’s Share Housing pair renters with homeowners.

And always consult your attorney before you enter into an agreement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dementia Diagnosis? The First Step You Should Take

 

 

A dementia diagnosis can bring up a lot of feelings. After all, you will be grieving.  It is not uncommon for someone to become depressed after this diagnosis. And you will probably experience fear. What will the future bring? You may worry about your loved ones. How will they handle this disease? Will you become a burden?

And to make the situation more difficult some days you feel and act like your old self. You may begin to wonder if you really have dementia at all. This is because dementia does not follow a straight-line progression. Instead, it will weave and wind leaving you and your family more confused than ever. In fact, you may think you have a lot more time to make plans than you really do.

Time to Craft a Plan

But time is of the essence with a dementia diagnosis. The truth is you may be very self-sufficient for a number of years. And then a sudden downturn could occur. A visit with an Elder law attorney can help you make a solid financial and legal plan for you and your family.

Medicare Will Not Pay for Your Care

A lot of families believe that Medicare will take care of all of their needs. This is not the case. Medicare will pay for medically related issues. Hospital stays, rehabilitation and a few other medical services may be available to you. But it will not cover bringing in-home care workers to help. It will not cover an assisted living, memory care or nursing facility. These services are private pay.

You May Qualify for Medicaid

Hurricane Season 2017- Stay or Go

Medicaid will cover care in a nursing home and sometimes some home care. But you must qualify. An elder law attorney can help you to look at and analyze the different options that may be available to you. If you are able to qualify for Medicaid they can help you fill out the appropriate paperwork. Also using trusts and other tools, your attorney can help you and your family be in the best position possible when you need more care.

It Takes A Village

A good Elder Law Attorney is connected to other professionals in the community who can help you. They will know about the resources the community has to offer. Furthermore, they may also know about non-profit organizations who can help if you need. Your attorney will be a valuable partner on this journey.

The Hilbun Law Firm offers free workshops just about every week. They are designed to help you get the information you need to make the right plan. Do not delay. Time is of the essence. Options that will be available now may not be available if you wait. Take a look at our schedule now!

 

Yes! Your Parents Finances Are Your Business

 

I am not sure how or why money, especially your parent’s money, became such a taboo topic.

“It was well understood in my home that you did not ask any questions about money. If you did you would quickly be told that it was none of your business. And since I was taught to respect my elders I did not ask. Oh, how I wish I would have!” ~Carol

Carol’s Parents Were Very Proud.

They were also frugal. And privacy was important to them. Carol and her brother had no idea what their parent’s financial situation was. When Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease Carol and her brother tried to broach the topic again but Dad refused to have the conversation. They backed off, not wanting to upset either parent.

 

 

Dementia Creeps In

As with some Parkinson’s patients, dementia was part of the process. It soon became clear that Carol and Jim’s Mom could not take care of their Dad alone. Their Dad was a large man. He was 6’4 and weighed about 240 lbs. He began having a series of falls. And he would get angry and then confused when this happened.

Marie, Carol, and Jim’s Mom was a small woman. She was 5’3” tall and just a wee bit over 100 lbs. There was no way she could lift her husband James when he fell.

Several of the neighbors helped. But Marie hated to be an imposition and James was embarrassed. A few times she even had to call the fire department to help in the middle of the night.

Protecting Their Adult Children

And they kept this information from Carol and Jim. Marie didn’t want to worry the children. Carol lived 4 hours away. Jim lived closer but he was busy with his work and his own family. He stopped by every week or two. But this was not enough to get a clear picture of what was going on.

The Crisis

Then Marie had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and had to have surgery. Jim and Carol had their eyes preyed wide open.  Staying with Dad they wondered how their Mom was able to take care of dad this past couple of years.

Getting Answers

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The social worker at the hospital wanted to help. But the problem was without knowing about their parent’s financial situation it would be hard. Mom would stay in the hospital for a week or so and then would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility to heal and get her strength back. 20 to 30 days would most likely be all that Medicare would pay for. After that, the family would be responsible to pay for their care.

The fact is Marie could not continue to try to care for her husband alone. And Jim and Carol both worked and had families to care for also. And it was also clear that Dad needed around the clock care.

There Were a Lot of Care Options.

From home care to assisted living to care homes and nursing homes. And for 24-hour care, the costs ranged from $3500 to over $12,000 per month. And without knowing what their parent’s financial situation was, Carol and Jim had their hand’s tied.

It was pretty clear that Dad could not make the financial decisions. With Marie out of the house, he became agitated and more confused than ever. Though Mom would heal with time and only need minimal assistance, Dad was a different story. James needed someone to assist him 24 hours a day.

Help From an Attorney

Two middle aged friends on a computer.

Luckily Marie was able to recover. She and her children sat down with an Elder Law Attorney to make sure all of the necessary paperwork was in place. Furthermore, their attorney was knowledgeable of the local eldercare community. As such, she was able to refer them to the right professionals who could help. And the good news was, they had a long-term care policy and James qualified for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. The attorney would be able to help them get these benefits.

This is Not an Uncommon Story.

And while this story turned out to have a silver lining, not all families are that lucky. Some may need help to apply for Medicaid benefits. The truth may be that mom and Dad do not have any savings or a long-term care policy to help. These families also need to help of an Elder Law Attorney. Applying for Medicaid is quite a process. Most families need assistance to make sure everything is done correctly. With a couple, it is important that there is still some income for the spouse to live on.

Free Elder Law Workshops- No Charge and No Obligation

Though the details may change somewhat from family to family, many find themselves in this predicament.  Attend one of the workshops that we offer at no charge. Discover what you need to know to plan for the future. Do it for yourself and for those you love. See Our Workshop Schedule

Long Term Care Options

Making Sense of Long-Term Care: Know Your Options to Plan for Your Needs

 

We spend much of our adult years planning for retirement, but as that time approaches, our financial goals start to shift and other needs come into focus. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure whether you will need long-term care or for how long, but there are some risk factors that can help predict the likelihood. Whether you’re approaching retirement or already retired, now is the time to think about those risk factors and start planning ahead.

 

What are Your Risk Factors?

 

Over half of Americans turning 65 today will develop a disability serious enough to require long-term care. According to HuffPost, the two most common reasons people need some form of long-term care are dementia and disability. You may not be able to predict these things, but you can ask yourself a few questions that affect your likelihood of needing long-term care.

 

 

  • Are there hereditary illnesses and conditions that could impact you? Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke all have genetic components, so if you have a family history of any of these debilitating illnesses, your risk of needing long-term care may be higher.

 

  • What lifestyle choices are you making now? You can’t change your genetics, but lifestyle factors play a huge role in your risk of having problems later. For example, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking are just a few of the lifestyle factors that lead to a higher risk of stroke.

 

  • What other factors raise your risk? A few other factors that are out of your control may also raise your risk. Women are more likely than men, and single people are more likely than married people to need long-term care.

 

  • How close are you to retirement? The earlier you start saving for long-term care costs, the better. If you plan to get a long-term care insurance policy, AARP recommends shopping in your 50s or 60s. As you get older, premiums will be higher, and worse health could prevent you from getting the best coverage.

 

What Can You Do Now?

 

It’s never too late to change unhealthy lifestyle choices. Quitting smoking, exercising, eating a balanced diet, and managing stress can all lower your risk for stroke and other chronic illnesses. You can also reduce the risk of injury by doing a thorough safety check of your home and making any modifications that make mobility easier and safer.

 

What are Your Options When Preparing for Long-Term Care?

 

Most people use a combination of personal funds, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and personal financing options like long-term care insurance to pay for their care. There are also some commonly overlooked funds, such as VA benefits, so be sure to explore all options that are available to you. While government programs can help, most long-term care costs typically come from your private savings or insurance.

 

If you have the means and want to avoid paying for an insurance policy you may never need, one option is to put a substantial sum into savings. This isn’t an option for everyone, and it can be tricky to estimate the amount you should be saving. Another option is to purchase long-term care insurance; you can choose from traditional long-term care policies as well as life insurance/traditional long-term care combination policies.

 

Even with savings and insurance, it’s important to know your options if you end up needing help paying for long-term care. You may want to consider a life settlement as one option. Choosing a life settlement allows you to sell a life insurance policy you already have for a greater value than you would get surrendering the policy. Selling a life insurance policy can help pay for daily living expenses and medical care if you find yourself needing help paying for long-term care. Just be sure to do thorough research before making any decisions to avoid unwanted surprises.

 

Thinking about long-term care costs is often unsettling. When you’re ready to enjoy retirement, preparing for long-term care is probably the last thing you want to do. Just keep in mind that the peace of mind you will get from planning ahead will be worth it.

 

Author

 

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

 

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

What If Mom Outlives Her Income?

“I am worried that mom may outlive her income. What will happen then?” Asked Claire

 

This is a common worry for many adult children. With the cost of living continuing to rise and the needs of an elder loved one increasing also, you are right to be concerned. After all, you need to be a good money manager.

Worried about college bound children

“Our goal was to keep Mom out of a Medicaid nursing home bed. Having worked in the industry I knew that once money runs out and you need to go on Medicaid your choices are very limited. Mom had dementia. The truth is there are not a lot of facilities who accept Medicaid and are trained in caring for someone with dementia here in Texas.” ~Emily

 

Emily is right. The truth is if you are looking for a secured facility for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of Dementia you will probably have a hard time in Houston Texas. They’re just are not a lot of them that accept Medicaid.

Old woman with her son

Perhaps your mom doesn’t need a secured unit because she can no longer walk. You could still run into the problem that Lori ran into. The nursing home where her mom was insisted that Lori come every day from 4 in the afternoon till 10 at night to take care of her mom.

Her Mom suffered from sundowning. This is common in people with dementia. It causes behavior changes. Someone who has this will often become very agitated. This is what happened to Lories Mom. She would scream, “Help, help, help!”, over and over again.  If Lorie refused to come the nursing home threatened to throw her mother out. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Most nursing homes are short staffed and someone with dementia may need a lot more attention and care than is available.

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Sometimes planning ahead can make a big difference. Sitting down with an elder law attorney just makes sense if you’re concerned. Most attorneys offer complimentary workshops or consultations. See our workshop schedule here.

 

Also, an elder law attorney is very connected in the community.  They are connected to financial advisors, hospice and home care companies, elder care advisors and even nonprofits that may be able to help you. They will know about many different resources that you can use to help stretch your dollars.

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Often what we see is that the children wanted mom to have the very best. So they put her in the most expensive and luxurious place they could find. Chances are they felt guilty placing her at all. And they wanted her to have the best. They may have thought that mom had just a couple of years left. But then they began to realize that Mom just might live quite a while longer. As the money began to drain out of her accounts, they began to get worried.

 

Sitting down with an elder law attorney in the early stages is the best option. This way plans can be made. And if there is little money and you know that eventually, mom will probably end up in a Medicaid facility you can plan for that. You can also find ways to stretch those dollars to buy more time.

 

When Robert and Carol brought their MIL to Houston after a broken hip they had choices to make. They could place her in a large assisted living facility with care 24/7 or they could place her in an Independent Living Community with a minimal amount of additional home care.

Since they lived close by they could visit often and help out. Carol could do her laundry each week and Robert could make sure she got to her doctor’s appointments. The community supplied all meals, entertainment and activities and some light housekeeping services.

Aging parent- reason to hire elder law attorney

For a few additional $$ they had the home care company help her get up in the morning. They helped her dress and made sure she took her medication. A caregiver would also come at night and help her change into her PJ’s. More services could be added as needed. And about a year later more services needed to be added. After 2 years, the time had come to move her to an assisted living facility. She needed someone to be available around the clock. But they saved about $50,000 placing her in the independent living community for those first two years.

 

Knowing what is available and where to go can make a huge difference. Planning ahead if a Medicaid bed is in your future can make sure that you are able to find one when the need comes. If you wait until the money is all gone you may be in for a shock. With proper planning, you will have time to visit and choose the best facility for your loved one. You will need to move in before the money runs out with the understanding that you will be given a Medicaid bed when you need it. Your attorney can help you work with the facility you choose.

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The truth is nobody knows how long someone will live. And even though it seems like Mom has a lot of money it is important to be prudent and spend those dollars wisely.