In the world of estate planning, the one theme that is repeated over and over is: “plan ahead.” One area where this may be especially important is in the choice of a nursing home or assisted living facility should one be needed. This is especially critical if you have aging parents, but it can also be a consideration for younger adults, especially baby boomers. You can’t predict what may happen in the future and may need such a facility at the most unexpected time either temporarily or permanently after a debilitating illness or accident.
The first and most crucial thing is to know what kind of care you need. Different nursing home facilities specialize in different things. Some are geared more toward Alzheimer’s patients and memory loss. Others are geared more toward physical issues that require regular assistance and/or rehabilitation services. So make sure that the facility is equipped and properly staffed to handle the specific needs. You can find much of this information online or by asking your physician.
After you have found a few nursing home facilities that meet your needs, you can start the real comparison process, with cost being the next consideration. There are two important considerations once you have asked the facilities for a breakdown of their fees. First, make sure you know what types of funding assistance are available. This is definitely one of those areas where advance planning can be invaluable. Many assistance programs require that the patient’s funds be exhausted before they will supplement the payments. Advance estate planning can simplify this process, as well as preserve the patient’s assets. Second, make sure that you know what costs are covered in the fees quoted by the facility. If the monthly housing fee doesn’t include meals, your extra costs can quickly add up.
There are many other questions to ask when considering a nursing home, but these can certainly get the process started. The best plan is to plan ahead and consult an estate planning attorney who is familiar with how to meet the patient’s needs without sacrificing all of the patient’s assets.