How Do You Prepare for Elder Care
They may be referred to as Life Resource Planners, but elder care resource planners are a type of advisor that has recently emerged to fill the gap in the long-term care elder care planning space. Elder care resource planners take a holistic and long-term view on financial planning for long term Their goal is to provide families with solutions to their long-term challenges, not just get them through the next obstacle. They look at all options available and help families to determine that what is best for them, helping them to preserve assets, maximize the use of public assistance and most importantly to get the care they or their loved ones need today and for as long as it is required.
Who are Elder Care resource planners?
Usually professionals in this space work with a goal in mind, like trying to qualify an aging parent for Medicaid. In this situation a Medicaid planner could be helpful, but only if that is the only option. However, rarely is it ever as simple as have only one option available. For example, many state and county non-Medicaid programs exist, there may be non-profit assistance available, veteran benefits, elder care loans, mortgage options and more.
Planners can be especially helpful with Alzheimer’s patients and those with other forms of dementia as the nature of these conditions usually means care will be required for a long period of time. Fortunately, the slow progression of these conditions allows time for a planner to both develop and execute an elder care resource plan.
What is an Elder Care Resource Plan?
An Elder Care Resource Plan begins with an in-depth analysis of the situation and an individual or couple’s needs. Information about the clients are taken into consideration, including:
- Their complete financial situation including income, assets, insurance policies, home equity and any add resources.
- All current and projected future health and care requirements
- Their wishes regarding how and where they want to spend their later years and how their estate and affairs should be managed.
The Elder care resource planner then adds information about:
- All possible assistance programs and financial options.
- The likelihood of receiving public assistance, how the application process works and any possible delays to expect, and the waiting lists for services
After the in-depth analysis is complete, a personalized plan is compiled. The planner will recommend a financially strategy that takes into consideration a variety of potential health scenarios, the family’s desires as well as financial realities.
Resource Planning Process
The process starts with an in-depth phone interview to gather information, ask questions and introduces the family to some concepts and ideas related to paying for elder care. In some cases, an additional appointment with a medical specialist may occur to evaluate the care recipient’s needs. The planner then compiles and analyzes all the collected information and develops a complete strategy for the family, which can take 2-3 weeks. This strategy and options will be presented to the family and a plan of action is finalized. Most often a binder is prepared with an easy-to-follow plan clearly laid out; families can use this binder with other planners, medical care managers, attorneys and other family members.
Most Resource Planners work remotely. Their services can be provided online and over the phone and they intentionally structure their services and schedule this way because know how challenging it can be for family members and caregivers who are also professionals to get away and meet in person.
Cost of Elder Care Resource Plan
The fees for an Elder care Resource Plan range from approximately $1,500 – $2,500 depending on the assets of the individual, their geographic location and a variety of other factors. The planner will provide a final cost during their free assessment.
If families are not able to afford the fees, they may be able to qualify for free assistance from their county social service office. Alternatively, families with extremely limited income and assets may qualify for Medicaid without assistance. Some planners may offer financial help by charging families on a sliding scale based on income.
Resource Planners vs. Elder Law Attorneys
When is an Elder care Resource Planner appropriate vs. retaining an elder law attorney? Both advisors play crucial roles and there is a certain overlap in the services they provide. Resource Planners are more appropriate when a family is uncertain about how to pay for elder care. While attorneys are better suited for addressing the how to do it. It is not uncommon for families to first work with a planner to develop a plan and then turn to a lawyer for help executing plan. This can be a very savvy strategy as planners tend to be significantly less expensive that elder law attorneys and by working with a planner, a family can greatly reduce the number of billable attorney hours. Many resource planners also have working relationships local elder law attorneys so that families don’t have to coordinate with two separate advisors.
Even when a family is relatively well prepared financially, the process of preparing for later life can be daunting. Professional services can greatly help families, but some who claim to be elder care planners may actually be working on a commission. They often recommend unnecessary products or services for families who are simply trying to determine their options and make the best decisions for the care of their elderly loved ones.
The complexity and possible conflicts of interest can result in simply not planning for later in life; the many benefits of planning far outweigh these complications. People who plan for elder care and its associated care costs can feel a sense of control and reduced anxiety about the future. Further, planning and professional assistance often helps a family save on care and improve the quality of life for the elder.