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Since long-term care will be needed by the majority and is not covered by Medicare, it is important to have an estate plan that will address this need.

As the elderly population of the United States continues to increase, younger people of today face an issue that their grandparents did not have to worry about—paying for long-term care. The Georgetown University Public Policy Institute estimates that about 70 percent of adults will need long-term care some time after age 65.

Long-term care is required by people that need help with their day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning or shopping because of a chronic illness or disability. Long-term care is a new concept, as the few people that were in these circumstances in the past would be treated by hospitals or nursing homes. However, today, only about five percent of people have conditions warranting a stay in a nursing home of five years or more.

It is a good thing that long-term care exists nowadays, as everyone does not need (or desire) the institutionalized care that a nursing home provides. Long-term care can be home or community-based and includes options such as:

Home care: Ideal for those that are independent, but need help with tasks such as bathing, transportation or cooking. This type of care involves nurses and health aides visiting the home to provide help with these tasks.

Senior day care: For independent seniors that do not need a high level of care and would like to socialize with other seniors, there are a variety of day care options available. For this type of care, seniors visit a care center, where basic health care is provided along with a variety of entertainment and social options.

Assisted living: For seniors who prefer to have their medical care and entertainment options onsite, assisting living is the ideal option. This involves moving into an apartment or facility geared towards seniors. The facility provides onsite assistance with day-to-day tasks as well as entertainment options. However, each residence is able to maintain a high level of independence (unlike a nursing home).

Estate planning can help

Many people do not want (or need) the institutional (and somewhat depressing) environment of a nursing home and want to maintain their independence, so they prefer long-term care instead. However, long-term care is quite pricey, especially if it is not properly planned for.

Since you will likely need some form of long-term care in the future, it is important to engage in estate planning early to work out the means of paying for it. Unfortunately, Medicare will currently only pay 100 days of long-term care in most cases. However, proper estate planning, which may include Medicaid planning, long-term care insurance and other options, can help you ensure that you receive the type of care you want in your golden years.

To learn about your options, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can consider your situation and show you the best way of achieving your long-term care goals.

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