Planning for your senior years is a complicated and emotionally tough task. It is often made all the tougher by the myriad misconceptions that exist about your options. There is a lot of misinformation about all aspects of senior planning, from nursing home decisions to appropriate legal documents and structure.
In this four part series, we will discuss 27 of the most costly misconceptions about planning for your senior years. We hope this discussion will help set you on the right track and make your planning decisions easier. Planning ahead is always the wisest course. This way you are fully prepared for whatever events come your way and can rest easily with the knowledge that whatever happens, you have a plan.
Misconception #1: Most seniors move into nursing homes as a result of minor physical ailments that make it hard for them get around. Wrong! The largest percentage of admissions to nursing homes is because of serious health, behavior, and safety issues, such as those caused by Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Misconception #2: Nursing home costs in Pennsylvania average $1,500 to $2,500 per month per person. Hardly. Current nursing home charges for one resident typically run approximately $9,000 to $10,000 per month, or more than $100,000 per year, which does not include prescription drugs—and those costs continue to rise.
Misconception #3: Children can care for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease at home without the need for nursing home care. Not true! Many patients with Alzheimer’s disease end up in nursing homes because children are simply unable to provide the level of care their parent needs. In most cases, the children want to care for their parents. But, as a practical matter, they simply can’t. Moving a parent into a nursing home is an intensely personal issue and should not be labeled as a right or wrong decision. In many cases, it’s the only realistic option. The rare exception is when the family has enough money to pay for skilled nursing care at home.
Misconception #4: Standard legal forms are all you need for a good estate plan. Not true. A competent estate plan begins with clearly defined goals, supported by well-drafted legal documents, and the repositioning of assets, as needed, to protect your estate from taxes, probate costs, and catastrophic nursing home costs.
Misconception #5: Your child will never move you into a nursing home. Wrong. Most children consider all options before moving a parent into a nursing home. But, sadly, children usually find they have no other alternative. As a result, parents who never expected to live in a nursing home soon discover that a nursing home is the only place with the staff and equipment to provide the care they need.
Misconception #6: As payment for nursing home care, the government will take your family home. Not true, if you plan ahead. Many people fear that the government will take their home in exchange for nursing home care, but you can avoid this with proper planning. You’ll be glad to know there are some ways you can protect your home so it cannot be taken.