Get the Facts: 10 Surprising Long-Term Care Statistics

Get the Facts: 10 Surprising Long-Term Care Statistics

older man nursing home resident sitting at dinner table with nurse smiling

When it comes to long-term care, many people are unaware of the potential costs, and the likelihood of needing such care in their lifetime. Planning in advance for long-term is crucial to safeguarding your assets and ensuring a financially secure future. Below, we’ll explore ten surprising long-term care statistics that highlight the importance of proactive planning.

1. Probability of Needing Long-Term Care

According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), 70% of people aged 65 and older will require some form of long-term care in their lifetime. This statistic underscores the need for adequate preparation.

2. Average Length of Care

The average duration of long-term care is approximately three years. It’s essential to consider the potential financial and emotional impact of extended care needs.

3. Caregiving by Family Members

Family members provide the majority of long-term care, with around 83% of elder care being provided by unpaid family caregivers. This not only highlights the significant role that families play in the caregiving process, but also the lack of education around how to become a paid caregiver—yes, that IS an option!

4. The Rising Cost of Care

Long-term care costs are on the rise. The annual median cost for a private room in a nursing home is approximately $105,850 a year, while a home health aide costs around $56,056 per year. These expenses can deplete savings quickly if not planned for in advance.

5. Medicaid as a Primary Payer

Medicaid becomes the primary payer for long-term care services for many individuals. Around 62% of nursing home residents depend on Medicaid to cover their care costs. Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements, with a look-back period of 5-years. Once again, advanced planning is crucial in order to qualify for this government program—you may not need it now, but now IS the time to start planning.

6. Gender Disparity in Caregiving

Women tend to shoulder the majority of caregiving responsibilities. In fact, women are more likely to be informal caregivers, and provide care for longer durations compared to men.

7. Impact on Spousal Care

Approximately 75% of married seniors will require long-term care services, with the majority of care provided to a spouse. This emphasizes the need for spousal planning to protect both partners. Do you know what to do if your spouse needs nursing home care?

8. Informal Caregiver Burnout

The strain of caregiving can lead to caregiver burnout. Nearly 40% of caregivers for older adults experience significant psychological distress due to the demands of caregiving.

9. Limited Coverage by Health Insurance

Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, only cover a limited amount of long-term care costs, leaving individuals responsible for a substantial portion of their care expenses. Planning well in advance of needing care can help ensure you don’t lose your life savings to the nursing home.

10. Financial Impact on Families:

The cost of long-term care can pose a significant financial burden on families. It’s estimated that 15% of caregivers had to reduce their work hours or quit their jobs altogether to accommodate caregiving responsibilities. The good news is that many caregivers can qualify to receive compensation for their caregiving responsibilities—ask us about how you can become a paid caregiver in Alabama.

These surprising long-term care statistics should serve as a wake-up call for individuals and families who want to plan for and secure their future. Being proactive and exploring options like long-term care insurance, setting up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, or consulting with an elder law attorney can help protect your assets and ensure a secure future. By planning well in advance, you can alleviate financial stress and focus on providing the best possible care for yourself or your loved ones. Remember, the time to plan is now—and we can help!

If you or a loved one is getting close to nursing home age, contact us to learn your options, and get a plan in place for the future. Call (256) 251-2137 or contact us using the brief form below:

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Looking to learn more? Do not hesitate to give us a call at (256) 251-2137 or contact us via the brief form below.

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Everyone Needs to Sign a Power of Attorney, But Especially Seniors

Everyone Needs to Sign a Power of Attorney, But Especially Seniors

Senior couple reads over paperwork at dining table

Estate planning often gets confused with end-of-life planning, but the two are not the same. Your estate plan does not just protect your assets after you die—it also plays an essential role in securing your health and finances while you are alive. A power of attorney is just as important as any other document in a robust estate plan, and while everyone over the age of 18 should really sign one, they are especially important for seniors.

Understanding Power of Attorney

Power of attorney comes in two forms: medical and financial. The former protects your health, the latter your finances. Here’s what you need to know:

Medical Power of Attorney

When you execute your medical power of attorney—sometimes referred to as an advance healthcare directive—you designate a trusted loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. If, say, you are injured in a car accident and cannot speak for yourself, your medical power of attorney can step in and communicate your wishes. Their decision-making is constrained by instructions previously provided by you—for example, whether you do or do not want to be placed on a ventilator or feeding tube, etc.—which provides peace of mind, and reduces the potential for family conflict.

Durable Power of Attorney

Your financial power of attorney likewise allows you to designate a trusted loved one or advisor to act on your behalf should you suffer incapacitation. Here, however, the powers granted concern your legal and financial affairs. You can customize the authority you give your designated loved one, though it’s common to include access to your financial accounts for bill-pay purposes, the ability to manage property, file taxes, and apply for public benefits.

Why Powers of Attorney Are Especially Important for Seniors

Every adult needs to speak to an estate planning or elder law attorney to draft power of attorney documents, because nobody is immune to life’s unpredictability. A first-year college student is as apt to careen off the road as an aging grandparent, and both need to have their health and finances covered should this happen. Powers of attorney are especially important for seniors, however, as cognitive decline means increasing challenges related to decision-making.

If you’re an aging adult worried about dementia, it’s crucial that you sign power of attorney documents now. Doing so frees you to enjoy your golden years with the security of knowing you will be cared for, and your loved ones won’t end up fighting over how best to attend to your well-being. Furthermore, drafting power of attorney documents while you are of sound physical and mental health can prevent your loved ones from the exhausting and expensive court process of filing for guardianship and/or conservatorship later.

Take Our Healthcare Quiz to Discover the Real Importance of Powers of Attorney

People are often surprised to discover how different their and their children’s ideas are regarding medical care. It’s easy to assume that everyone is on the same page, but our Healthcare Quiz demonstrates that this is rarely the case.

Print out two copies of the quiz here, give one to your kids, keep one for yourself, answer the 12 questions separately, and compare results. Don’t be surprised by discrepancies, but do take this as reason to establish your powers of attorney now!

Reach out to the experienced elder law attorneys at Miller Estate and Elder Law by calling (256) 251-2137 or using the contact form below.

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Caring for Caregivers: Coping Skills to Fight Caregiver Burnout

Caring for Caregivers: Coping Skills to Fight Caregiver Burnout


Caring for a loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be emotionally and physically draining. Caregiver burnout is a common occurrence, and it’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent (or reverse) it. In this article, we will discuss several coping skills to fight caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need. According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

There are several signs of caregiver burnout that you should be aware of. These include feeling overwhelmed, experiencing feelings of isolation, neglecting your own needs, and losing interest in activities you used to enjoy. According to Vitas Healthcare, other signs include changes in appetite or sleep patterns, feeling irritable or short-tempered, and experiencing physical symptoms, like headaches or stomach problems. Caring for aging parents or loved ones can be as difficult as it is rewarding.

Coping Skills for Caregiver Burnout

To prevent or alleviate caregiver burnout, there are several coping skills that caregivers can employ. One of the most important is asking for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family members, friends, or community organizations for assistance. You may also want to consider hiring a professional caregiver or respite to provide a break from caregiving duties.

Practicing self-care is another important way to cope with caregiver burnout. This means taking care of your own physical and emotional needs. Make time for exercise, hobbies, and relaxation. Seek support from others, including therapists, support groups, or spiritual advisors.

It’s also important to set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember that you can’t do everything, and that it’s okay to ask for help or delegate responsibilities. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Try to find a balance between caregiving duties and other aspects of your life. Take advantage of technology and other modern resources to help you manage your caregiving responsibilities. There are many apps, websites, and other tools available to help you organize schedules, track medications, and connect with other caregivers.

Caregiver burnout is a serious issue that can affect both caregivers and their loved ones. It’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent or alleviate it. By asking for help, practicing self-care, setting realistic expectations, and using technology and other resources, caregivers can cope with the demands of caregiving and maintain their own well-being.

Download the Free Guide: Caring for Aging Parents

At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we have helped countless caregivers gain peace of mind knowing that—at the least—the right legal tools are in place to help them help their aging loved ones. We work with caregivers at all stages, from taking the first important legal steps following a dementia diagnosis, to filing for guardianship and/or conservatorship after their loved one’s dementia symptoms become more advanced. The sooner you take action, the easier it will be to take the best possible care of your aging loved ones. Complete the brief form below to download our free e-Book and guide: Caring for Aging Loved Ones, or contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique needs.

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How to Legally Protect a Loved One with Dementia

How to Legally Protect a Loved One with Dementia

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you can make the news of a devastating diagnosis a little easier for them by taking steps to make sure certain several legal documents are put into place as soon as possible. An elder law attorney can help you put a plan into place to support you and your loved one every step of the way, including establishing a durable power of attorney, a living will, a medical power of attorney, and an estate plan. These legal documents for caregivers will give you peace of mind that you are fulfilling the wishes of your loved one as they navigate their diagnosis and disease.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to make financial decisions for your loved one when they are no longer able to advocate for themselves. Working with an elder law attorney and your loved one to establish yourself as an agent will allow you to make financial decisions, sell property, handle any financial accounts like IRAs or savings, and pay bills. Establishing power of attorney is an especially crucial step to take following a dementia diagnosis. If you fail to do so and need to take over financial responsibilities for your loved one down the road, you will have to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship through the court system, leading to expensive legal fees and unnecessary hearings.

Estate Plan

In addition to establishing power of attorney to make sure their financial responsibilities are handled, your loved one may want to establish an estate plan for their assets and investments at the time of their dementia diagnosis. Your loved one and an elder law attorney can discuss any specific plans or intentions they have for their assets to make sure their investments and income are protected. An important legal document for caregivers, an estate plan provides you with a clear directive of your loved one’s wishes and them with a sense of control over their assets.

Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive

Eventually your loved one will reach a point where they are no longer able to make health care decisions for themselves. Before that happens, you and your loved one should have a discussion about potential medical issues that might arise and what choices they would like to make for treatment. Legal documents for caregivers like a living will are legally binding and make it easier for you and them to feel confident that their wishes will be respected during more advanced stages of their disease. The living will should also include the name of the person who will become your loved one’s medical power of attorney. An elder law attorney can help you draft this document and make certain that your loved one’s voice is heard.

At Miller Estate & Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping people care for their loved ones—while protecting their hard-earned savings. Contact us today and start putting your family first, or download our free guide: Caring for Aging Parents: The ABCs of Long-Term Care Planning by filling in the brief form below.

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Should I be Thinking About Medicaid Asset Protection Planning?

Should I be Thinking About Medicaid Asset Protection Planning?

Medicaid is a federal program administered by the states that helps individuals who meet certain asset criteria pay for long-term care costs. Because Medicaid is a means-tested program, certain financial conditions must be met to qualify, which means that it is important to plan ahead. Unfortunately, people often wait until it is too late and a sudden illness, disability, or other crises occurs before planning for long-term care. Medicaid crisis planning is a strategy that can help you qualify for Medicaid, without experiencing financial ruin.

Long-term care is expensive, and these costs only continue to increase. The average life span of adults is also increasing, which translates to more years of care at increasingly higher rates. Without a plan in place, these costs could be financially devastating. In fact, without proper planning, your life savings could be wiped out within months of needing long-term care.

Due to Medicaid’s strict eligibility requirements, many individuals fail to meet the income and asset requirements, but still cannot afford the cost of healthcare on their own. Medicaid planning is a way to assess an individual’s situation and devise a strategy to help qualify for Medicaid if it becomes necessary.

Two popular strategies employed to meet these financial qualifications are:

  • Spend Down
  • Medicaid Asset Protection Trust

The spend down strategy is a way to reduce countable assets by carefully spending excess funds on things like medical expenses, home improvements, prepaid funerals, etc. To prevent applicants from simply giving away their money or resources to qualify for Medicaid, the federal government implemented the “look-back period.” Each state’s Medicaid program uses slightly different eligibility rules, but most states examine all of a senior’s financial transactions dating back five years from the date of their application. If a transaction is found to be in violation, the applicant will be assessed a penalty.

When it comes to the length of the penalty period, there really is no limit.  It is based on the amount of money given away during the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, if a senior has gifted their assets during the look-back period and requires nursing home level care, this will have to be paid out of pocket until the penalty period runs out and they become eligible for coverage.

The other problem with the spend down strategy is that your assets are depleted.  As an individual, you can only have $2,000 in countable assets!  A more favorable strategy to spending all of your assets is to implement a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT).  A MAPT is exactly as it sounds – a trust designed to protect assets from being counted for Medicaid eligibility. When planned properly, an MAPT protects the home, other properties, and investments.  When designed properly and in advance, the assets in the trust will go to your heirs instead of having to spent on nursing home care.

The trust must be irrevocable for exemption from Medicaid’s asset limit. This means that the trust cannot be cancelled or changed. Once the assets are transferred into the trust, they no longer belong to the individual, nor can that individual regain ownership of the assets. If the assets are in a revocable trust, Medicaid considers the assets to still be owned by the Medicaid applicant. This is because they still have control over the assets held in the trust.  As a result assets in revocable trust do not provide the necessary asset protection from long term care costs.

Planning well in advance of the need for long-term care is the best course of action when considering a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust.  Transfers of assets to MAPTs do not result in immediate Medicaid qualification as they are subject to the 5 year look back as well.  The advantage is that if the assets have been in the MAPT for 5 years, they are not counted by Medicaid.  Therefore, the sooner you do the planning and get the MAPT set up, the more likely your nest egg will be protected if you need long term nursing home care down the road.

At Miller Estate and Elder Law we have extensive experience advising clients on Medicaid planning. Contact us today so that we can help you qualify for Medicaid, while also protecting your assets and your loved ones.

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What is a Medicaid Crisis and What Are Your Options?

What is a Medicaid Crisis and What Are Your Options?

Imagine that your parent or another aging loved one suddenly finds themselves in need of nursing home care. If they haven’t already planned for the potential cost of long-term nursing care, they could find themselves in an incredibly compromised and vulnerable position. Because of the strict income and asset limitations that dictate who is eligible for Medicaid, your parents (or even you) may end up blowing through your life savings in order to pay for the cost of long-term care.

It is well known that Medicaid has a 5-year lookback period, so those who find themselves in immediate need of long-term care often assume there is nothing they can do to get qualified.

Fortunately, that is a myth. With the help of a qualified elder law attorney, Medicaid Crisis Planning could help you or your loved ones preserve some of their assets while becoming eligible for Medicaid.

What is Medicaid Crisis Planning?

About 70 percent of American seniors will need some type of long-term care planning, many of whom will find themselves in nursing homes. Because of the high nursing home costs—the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is over $100,000—it is important to meet with an elder law attorney to work out a detailed plan to prepare for this situation long in advance.

If, however, you find your loved one facing an unexpected health emergency that will likely require nursing home care, you do have options. For people who have assets significantly higher than the Medicaid threshold, the best of these options is Medicaid Crisis Planning. Medicaid Crisis Planning is a way to avoid spending down your entire life savings when faced with an immediate or near-immediate health situation.

How Does Medicaid Crisis Planning Work?

With Medicaid Crisis Planning, the person facing a nursing home visit gifts a large part of their assets—sometimes up to 50 percent—to a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, or in some cases directly to a child or another loved one. The rest of the person’s assets are then converted to an income stream through a Medicaid Compliant Annuity (or in some states a promissory note) After these transfers are completed, the patient applies for Medicaid to cover the nursing home cost.

In most cases, the application will be approved subject to a penalty period.  That penalty period is based on the amount of the gift they have made to their child or other loved one (and any other transfers for less than fair market value that have been made in the past 5 years). During this period of ineligibility, (penalty period) the person will privately pay for nursing home care using their monthly income, as well as the funds produced by the annuity or payments from the promissory note or annuity. Once the ineligibility period has expired, Medicaid will start paying the monthly nursing home bill.

While the applicant will need to use some of their life savings initially, in the long-run, they will be able to salvage some of what they’ve worked a lifetime to accrue.

Long-Term Care Planning

With proper long-term care planning, you and your loved ones can be protected from having to spend down your entire life savings when faced with an unexpected nursing home admission—without the need for Medicaid Crisis Planning. An elder law attorney will help you protect your assets and guide you through which financial moves to make (or NOT make) as you age. For example, it may be advised that you set up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or purchase assets that are exempt from Medicaid.  This can prevent you from incurring a penalty, should you need to apply for nursing home Medicaid in the future.

The sooner you start planning for the cost of long-term nursing care, the better.  As it goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Whether you are interested in long-term care planning or find yourself in need of Medicaid Crisis Planning, it is important that you work with an experienced estate and elder law attorney. Elder law matters are as complicated as they are essential, so choosing the right professional can make all the difference.

At Miller Estate and Elder Law, we have many years of experience with long-term care planning and Medicaid Crisis Planning. Call (256) 251-2137 to speak with a member of our legal team today or contact us using the brief form below.

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