Have you thought about or accomplished any long-term care planning? Are you even wondering what long-term care is and whether you might need it someday? Long-term care is the type of healthcare people receive when their care needs extend beyond acute care or hospitalization. Acute care focuses on the familiar and traditional cycle of illness. For instance, you think you may have a sinus infection, you then go to your doctor to receive a diagnosis and care, you next take the doctor’s advice and prescribed medicine and in most situations, you get better on your own. However, if you have had a serious injury, surgery or other medical event and you are in a hospital setting, you will receive treatment, a short round of therapies and then you are up and on your way as soon as possible.

The question now arises, what happens when people do not recover from an acute illness? Or what happens when people are unable to independently leave the hospital or rehabilitation facility? The most serious question, what happens when seniors or people of any age, receive a healthcare diagnosis that predicts there will come a time in the future when they will not have the mental capacity or physical ability to care for themselves? This is when long-term care may be needed.

Long-term care addresses the needs of people, often seniors, who lose their ability to independently perform their Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) or Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). We would like to share more about both in the next few paragraphs. 

Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADL) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cooking
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning the house
  • Paying bills or managing finances

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)  include, but are not limited to, the following actions people would need to be able to accomplish for themselves:

  • Feeding 
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Walking

How is this type of long-term care paid for? The costs for this type of long-term care, sometimes referred to as custodial care, is something most insurance policies, including Medicare, do not pay for outside of a specific timeframe. Therefore, it becomes the burden, both financially and emotionally, for the person in need of care and his or her loved ones. The cost of long-term care varies by state, region, and the type of care needed. You can learn more about the cost in our state by using this link to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

As you know, you create an estate plan early to be prepared for a time when you may not be able to make decisions for yourself and, ultimately, decide the legacy you want to leave. Like estate planning, it is important to address long-term care planning as soon as possible so that all your long-term care needs will be met in the future. By working with a Wisconsin experienced elder law attorney, he can advise you on:

  • How to find the type of care you need,
  • The type of decision-maker you need in place to support you,
  • The estate planning documents your chosen decision maker needs,
  • Community and state programs such as Medicaid to help you afford the cost,
  • How to qualify for assistance programs since they are based on health, income, and asset eligibility standards.

The sooner you can plan for your long-term care needs, the better. We know this article raises more questions than answers. We want to help you protect beloved seniors in your life with these helpful tips this March. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.