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Help mom and dad plan ahead financially
Senior moments
Rich DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care.

I meet family members every week who ask me questions about their parents’ ability to pay for long-term care. The conversation usually starts with a question regarding Medicare and health insurance. Neither entity helps with the financial portion of care when talking about assisted-living or personal-care homes in the state of Georgia. Care of this type is almost always private pay by the individual and/or family members.

There are a few forms of assistance available for folks considering moving to an assisted-living setting.

Aid & Attendance is a program of support offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs. One must financially qualify for this benefit and be either a wartime veteran or spouse of a wartime veteran. The rules that govern this program are many, and I would suggest you talk to an expert in this field instead of trying to go through the application process alone. You can visit our website listed below for more information if needed.

A long-term-care insurance policy can help pay for assisted living in most cases. Policies vary depending on the benefits chosen at the time the policy was written. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 70 percent of people older than 65 will need some form of long-term care. Most experts say it is a good idea to consider an LTC insurance policy between the ages of 50 and 60. Policy premiums go up dramatically after age 60.

Another lesser-known program for paying for care is through a life-insurance policy conversion to a long-term-care benefit plan, which is different from a long-term-care insurance policy. Anyone who owns a life-insurance policy has the right to convert it when needed. One thing to remember is the benefit will be paid directly to the caregiving community, so a need for services will be necessary to activate the program. Monthly payments vary depending on the policy value, and this program may not be the answer for everyone. It’s best to talk to an independent financial adviser who specializes in finances for older adults.

Additional questions that need to be answered for one considering helping a loved one move to an assisted senior-living setting include:

• Has she named a durable power of attorney to help manage finances? If you plan to help Mom with her finances, bank accounts, etc., you will need to do this.

• Where does she keep her financial information? Bank-account numbers, keys, records, codes, lockboxes, etc., are easy to navigate around when you know what and where they are.

• What is your dad’s monthly income, and what are his expenses? Does he receive Social Security and/or Medicare benefits, annuities, dividends, etc.? Does he pay his bills by check or online banking? This information will help you understand what your father can afford on a monthly basis, as well as determine the best way to help manage your father’s money moving forward.

Never underestimate the importance of protecting your parent’s assets. Long-term care costs are going up every year. The average annual cost of assisted living is just less than $40,000; double that figure for skilled nursing. And at-home care averages $21 per hour.
Learn all you can now so you will be better informed when your parents or loved ones need your help to make these critical-care decisions.

Be prepared, my friends.

Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or go to

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