One of the comments I hear most frequently from clients is that they do not want to be a burden on their kids as they age. Many are in the current position of having to act as caregivers to their elderly parents and do not want to create the same scenario when they get older.
A Family Story
Audrey came to me the other day with this dilemma. Her father is in declining health and she and her husband have been providing support, both financially and emotionally. Audrey first wanted help in dealing with her father but also wanted to understand her options in preventing this from happening to her own children.
Untangling Assistance and What’s Available Confusion
If a loved-one has limited assets, one place to seek help is through Medicaid. The system can be confusing and intimidating so I strongly recommend hiring a Medicare advocate to help navigate the process. Medicaid recipients are expected to explain any changes in their assets for the 5 years prior to applying. This “look back” period may affect whether or not you qualify for benefits.
Military veterans and spouses may be entitled to financial help as their health declines called VA Aid and Attendance (A&A) pension benefit. Benefits can be paid to a nursing home or assisted living place. As of 2019, a single veteran can receive up to $1,881 per month, $2,230 per month for a married couple and $1,209 per month to a surviving spouse. This is also a difficult system to navigate and advocates are available. One of the benefits to veterans is that there is no “look back” period and benefits are rewarded based on the person’s current assets.
Planning to Prevent Financial Burdens
For Audrey’s own situation, my advice was to start planning for future needs now. As much as we would all like to play ostrich, declining health is inevitable. The number of people living into their 90s has increased 40% over the last decade and a statistically long life is especially possible if you are educated and have assets. So here are some of the things to consider:
- First get help taking care of your Dad so you can start saving the money you are sacrificing for his care.
- Stay as healthy as possible. Delay the evitable. Get serious about diet and exercise.
- Maximize all retirement accounts as much as possible, especially those that match your personal contribution such as a 401K at work.
- Depending on your age, explore Long-Term Care (LTC) insurance solutions. There are options available now that eliminate some of the negatives of traditional LTC policies. In traditional LTC policies if you don’t use it you lose it. And they are very expensive. The newer options act like regular life insurance or annuities with LTC riders and the ability to tap into the death benefit for LTC. If you never tap into the death benefit the money goes to your heirs.
Aging comes with many challenges that are hard to imagine until you have seen a loved one go through that experience. Preparing for this next stage of life will be a wonderful benefit for you AND your children.