As elder law attorneys, we often speak with the family members of people that require assistance with their activities of daily living. They are acting as caregivers, and more and more people will assume this responsibility over the coming years. This is because of a unique demographic trend that is gripping the country at the present time. During the years that immediately followed World War II (1946 to 1964), there were huge numbers of babies born in the United States.
If you do the math, you can see that these people have been starting to attain senior citizen status. According to the Social Security Administration, there are as many as 15,000 applications for benefits being submitted each and every day. People that are just entering their retirement years are typically going to be able to live independently and enjoy their golden years to the fullest. This being stated, as time goes on, it can become difficult for elders to take care of all their own day-to-day needs. In fact, seven out of every ten seniors will eventually need living assistance.
The Sandwich Generation
There are increasing numbers of people that are called upon to help their aging parents while their own children are still dependents living at home. These people are members of the “sandwich generation,” and it can be very challenging to juggle both of these responsibilities. Plus, many of these folks are also working, and there are other responsibilities to attend to as well.
As a caregiver, you should carefully evaluate exactly what you have to do and when you have to do it. If you take a scattershot approach, you may take on unnecessary tasks. Evaluate the big picture and create a caregiving schedule for yourself that is beneficial but efficient. You have to make sure that you don’t put on the “Superwoman or Superman” cape when you are acting as a caregiver.
When you find out that someone that you love very much needs assistance, you may resolve to do anything and everything that is necessary. The fact is, we all have our limitations, and you should certainly keep this in mind so that you can retain your own health. Do not be afraid to ask for additional help when you discover that you need it. Family members and/or friends may be willing to lend a hand, and there are other possibilities, such as adult day care facilities.
If you are no longer capable of providing the level of care that is needed because of the advancing limitations, you can engage professional assistance. This can also be a solution if you could do it, but you simply do not have the time anymore.Unfortunately, the Medicare program will not pay for custodial care. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that Medicaid will cover these costs if you can gain eligibility. Because the program is intended for people with sparse financial resources, there are low income and asset limits.
When it comes to in-home care, here in Illinois, there are nine different Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver Programs that are potentially available. Each respective waiver is designed to respond to the needs of a diverse set of individuals, and one of them is specifically for elderly people. If you have a loved one that requires nursing home care, your family will have to try to obtain direct Medicaid eligibility as a source of financial assistance. The limit on countable assets is $2,000, but there are some things that don’t count, including your home, one vehicle, and your personal belongings and household effects.
When it comes to the countable assets, your family member could give gifts to loved ones or fund an irrevocable trust. However, this takes careful planning, because the gift giving must be completed at least five years before the application for Medicaid coverage is submitted. A period of ineligibility is imposed if this rule is violated. To explain through a simple example, if an applicant gives away enough to pay for two years of nursing home care, Medicaid eligibility would be delayed by two years.
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Our firm would be more than glad to help if you have questions about any elder law or estate planning matter. We offer free consultations, and you can send us a message to set up an appointment or call us at 312-753-6000.