Credit: National Council on Aging
At some point in nearly everyone’s life, we must step up to care for our elderly parents. It is a notion that has grown to be a social standard for hundreds of years. In spite of that, the idea of what takes to properly care for one’s elders has vastly changed over the past 200 years. It was only in 1823 that the first home for the elderly opened in the United States, yet they didn’t become popular until the 20th century. Alzheimer’s, a disease we now know to impacts many elderly persons, was only coined in 1906. The increase of nursing homes and hospice care only happened after 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were instituted
Aging wasn’t actively studied until the 20th century. Due to the Baby Boom, which occurred roughly between 1945 and 1960, the United States’ population of seniors is at an all-time high, with thousands more joining the ranks every day. Traditional forms of geriatric care don’t cut it any longer. Some elders need constant monitoring and can no longer cook or clean. Some elders only need moderate assistance getting around the house.
There is a wide variety of ways to provide assistance to aged loved ones care—full-time assisted living homes, monitoring systems, hourly care-providers, and more—and each of them have something in common: expense. West Palm Beach elder law attorney, Mark Shalloway, says that nursing homes can average up to $10,000 depending on state. It’s a hefty price to pay for anyone, but the wealthy can usually cover it. Low-income families often have these costs at least partially covered by welfare services.
So, what happens to the middle-class families that don’t qualify for coverage, and can’t pay the fees out of pocket? A good elder law attorney can help find a solution.
“The middle-class people struggle paying for this added monthly cost—$3,000 to $10,000 a month—for dressing, bathing, helping,” Mark Shalloway says. “Since these people need an aid and not a doctor, it isn’t covered, and we have to look into how Medicaid can benefit these people…We can’t shelter every asset, but with planning we can work something out so they can qualify for Medicaid and nursing home care and not be broke.”
Shalloway says elder law is different from many of the other practices of law, because the work they do is defined by the client, not the subject. Attorneys in this area of practice are looking to serve the elder community in any way possible. Clients can find assistance with more traditional aspects like wills and trusts, but also long-term care facilities and even taxes.
It’s through Medicaid planning that elder law attorneys can provide clients with the benefits they need to live out their golden years in comfort. Medicaid planning allows attorneys to find solutions to their clients’ struggle by helping them apply to plans that provide funds for elder care their loved ones (or themselves) the care they need. Through even covering just a fraction of the cost, elders are able to reap some of the benefits they not only need, but deserve.
“Elder care lawyers look into these problems to find ways to benefit others,” Shalloway says. “That is the heart and soul of elder law.”
For more information about Mark Shalloway and his firm, call (561) 686-6200 or visit the Shalloway & Shalloway office.