There are various ways to pay for the costs of care at home or in a care community. This can include private pay, long-term care insurance, and Medicaid. Medicare does not help to pay for the cost of custodial care, but it can help pay for a brief time of rehabilitation in a skilled nursing home following a hospital stay.

Each state’s rules will vary, but generally, Medicaid planning can help protect the person who has Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and his or her family. Be sure to consider available veteran’s benefits, including “aid and attendance” programs for a wartime veteran and the surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran.

It is critical to plan ahead to preserve family savings, preferably at least five years before paid care is needed. Otherwise, once a person spends down to the point where Medicaid covers the cost of care, he or she must have next to no countable assets (often $2,000 or less) and then only gets to keep about $30 per month (not even a dollar per day!) from his or her Social Security check and pension. Proper planning helps to set aside funds, which will allow the family to pay for extras, which would otherwise not be available if trying to live on the pittance allowed by Medicaid.

Planning tip: Be sure to start planning when you get the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Don’t wait until the disease has taken its terrible toll. If you wait, you will lose valuable years of planning time.  The disease may even rob you of the ability to sign critical documents and take important planning steps to protect yourself and your family. Never get your Medicaid planning advice from the Medicaid office. They are under no obligation to tell you all of the available options to best protect yourself, your house, and your life savings. Instead, talk with an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with the public benefits in your state. 

Free Caregiver’s Guide:

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Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning