When to Leave a Nursing Home and Move Back Home

Leaving a nursing home to return home is a goal for many residents and their families, but it requires careful consideration. While returning home is a good move for some, it won’t work for everyone. A nursing home stay does not have to be permanent. Many residents enter a facility temporarily to recover from an illness or accident and are able to easily transition back to living at home. For residents who continue to need care but would rather be at home, moving out of a nursing home is more complicated. Before considering moving out of a nursing home, here Continue Reading

Claiming Social Security Benefits at Age 70

If you are about to turn 70, congratulations on reaching a big milestone. And if you also have delayed claiming Social Security retirement benefits up till now, you are joining a select group — only 6.5 percent of Social Security recipients put off collecting their benefits until they reach three score and ten, the age at which they can collect the maximum benefit. If you are about to join this elite group of septuagenarian claimers, it’s important to know when and how to claim. The decision of how long to wait to claim Social Security benefits depends on a number Continue Reading

Home Health Aide Costs See the Sharpest Increase in Annual Long-Term Care Survey

Long-term care costs climbed again in 2021, with rates for home health aides and homemakers seeing the sharpest rises, according to Genworth’s annual Cost of Care Survey. The coronavirus pandemic continues to contribute to cost increases. In the past year, Genworth reports that the national median annual cost of home health aides shot up 12.50 percent to $61,776, and the median annual rate for the services of a homemaker also jumped 10.64 percent to $59,488. Home health aides provide hands-on personal care, but not medical care. Homemaker services help with household tasks like cooking or cleaning that cannot be handled Continue Reading

Biden Proposes Major Nursing Home Reforms, Most Extensive “In Decades”

The Biden administration has announced far-reaching nursing home reforms, targeting staffing and accountability at facilities with deficient care. Advocates are calling the proposals, which include the first-ever federal minimum staffing levels, the most significant reforms in decades. Nursing homes have been plagued by chronic understaffing and high turnover rates for years, a problem only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies have revealed that nursing home staffing levels are often inadequate and inaccurately reported and recent research found that increasing staffing by just 20 minutes a day led to fewer COVID cases and deaths. Meanwhile, there is evidence that most nursing Continue Reading

Medicaid’s “Snapshot” Date and Its Crucial Impact on a Couple’s Financial Picture

When a married couple applies for Medicaid, the Medicaid agency must analyze the couple’s income and assets as of a particular date to determine eligibility. The date that the agency chooses for this analysis is called the “snapshot” date and it can have a major impact on a couple’s financial future. In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets (the figure may be somewhat higher in some states). Medicaid law also provides special protections for the spouses of Medicaid applicants to make sure they have the minimum Continue Reading

The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

Elder law and estate planning serve two different — but equally vital — functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die. Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future medical needs, including long-term care. Elder law attorneys can help you develop a plan to pay for future care while preserving some of your assets. They can also assist you with qualifying for Medicaid or other Continue Reading

What Vaccines Does Medicare Cover?

Vaccines can become less effective over time. Even individuals fully vaccinated as children may need to update their immunizations. Medicare Parts B and D offer vaccination coverage. Medicare Part B covers shots for the flu, hepatitis B, pneumococcal (pneumonia), and COVID-19. Medicare covers 100 percent of the cost of these vaccines if you go to an approved provider, and you do not have to pay a deductible or coinsurance. Medicare Advantage plans are also required to provide these vaccines at no additional costs. Medicare covers one flu shot per flu season, which runs from November to April, and not the Continue Reading

Medicaid’s Benefits for Assisted Living Facility Residents

Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently but who need some assistance. Costs can range from $2,000 to more than $6,000 a month, depending on location. Medicare won’t pay for this type of care, but Medicaid might. Almost all state Medicaid programs will cover at least some assisted living costs for eligible residents. Unlike with nursing home stays, there is no requirement that Medicaid pay for assisted living, and no state Medicaid program can pay directly for a Medicaid recipient’s room and board in an assisted living facility. But with assisted living costs Continue Reading

How Do I File for a Guardianship?

No one wants to see a loved one become unable to make decisions for him or herself. If this happens, however, the court may appoint a substitute decision maker, often called a “guardian,” but in some states called a “conservator” or other term. A guardian is only appointed as a last resort if other, less restrictive, alternatives, such as a power of attorney, are not in place or are not working. In most states, anyone interested in the well-being of an individual who may be incapacitated – called the “proposed ward” — can request a guardianship for that person (also Continue Reading

Ombudsmen: Front-Line Advocates for Nursing Home Residents

Disagreements with a nursing home can arise regarding any number of topics, including the quality of food, troublesome roommates, lack of privacy, or services not meeting what was promised. Many disputes can be resolved by speaking with a nursing home staff member, supervisor, or moving up the chain of command. But if you can’t resolve things within the nursing home, your next step should be to contact the local ombudsman assigned to the nursing home. An ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities who is trained to resolve problems. Under Continue Reading