Creating And Protecting Your Legacy

Why should you plan for long-term care?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Elder Law and Medicaid Planning |

Florida has a large and growing senior population, mainly due to its warm climate and friendly tax policies. As people age, the likelihood of needing some form of long-term assistance increases. Long-term care planning is one integral aspect of the estate planning process that allows you to prepare and arrange for your future should the need for assisted living arise.

Long-term care is different from medical care. Medical care primarily concerns diagnosing, treating and managing diseases and health conditions. It often involves services provided by medical professionals. Long-term care could include medical care, but it focuses on providing assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes referred to as activities of daily living (ADLs). These may include more complex activities or instrumental ADLs (IADLs).

ADLs vs. IADLs

Activities of daily living or ADLs are the tasks people often take for granted but are essential for self-care. They are fundamental skills that a person must be capable of doing in order for them to live independently and care for their own needs. These include the following:

  • Bathing
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Putting on your clothes
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Moving independently
  • Using the bathroom

Instrumental activities of daily living or IADLs are the more complex skills that are necessary to live independently in a community. These include the following:

  • Managing your finances
  • Driving or understanding how to use public transit
  • Shopping for groceries or clothes
  • Preparing your meals
  • Managing your medications
  • Using the cell phone or other forms of communication
  • Housekeeping

IADLs are often the first abilities that decline as a person ages, especially if they are suffering from cognitive impairment. Old age, illness or incapacity can take away a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs, which is why long-term care and assisted living facilities exist. However, they come at a price.

Planning for long-term care

Planning for long-term care often includes setting up legal documents that outline decision-making authority in the event of incapacity. It also involves financial planning to ensure resources are available to pay for care. Regular health insurance typically does not cover long-term care costs, but those that do may only provide coverage for a limited period. Medicaid may cover these costs, but only if your income and assets are below a certain threshold. You can structure your assets to qualify.

Without proper planning, the burden of care often falls on family members. Planning for long-term care before it is necessary can help you afford it without depleting your assets.