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Nov 18, 2019 01:46 PM EST

How Can I Prepare for Long-Term Care for My Father?

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How Can I Prepare for Long-Term Care for My Father?

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My father was recently diagnosed with dementia. My mother passed away when I was a teenager, so his care and the cost of his care will fall on me (I'm an only child). How can I prepare for his long-term care?

I'm sorry to hear about your father's diagnosis. Never give up hope. He is lucky to have the love and support of his child.

Depending on the situation, your father may or may not need long-term care, but you're smart for wanting to be prepared.

I'm not going to sugarcoat the reality that long-term care is expensive. The median overall cost of nursing home care is $85,800.

I don't know your financial situation, but I would start looking into local, state and federal assistance programs that may be available.

Your father may or may not qualify for Medicaid assistance. Generally, assistance is available to those with low incomes and assets, but the rules are different in every state. Consider consulting with a financial adviser to see if your father would qualify.

If your father is 65 years of age or older, Medicare may pay for some or all of his care. Medicaid is available for those under 65, but income must be at or below 133% of the federal poverty line. A family of two, for example, couldn't earn more than $21,000 per year.

Medicaid may have to be reserved as a last resort, after your father has exhausted all of his income and assets.

The only way to really know if your father will qualify for these programs is to talk to him. Considering his diagnosis, I would act quickly. Dementia is an unpredictable disease. He may be fine today, and unable to recall important information tomorrow.

Now is a good time to talk to your dad about his financial situation and get as much information as possible about his:

  • Savings accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Assets
  • Bonds and other investments
  • Life insurance policies

Having this information will help you better plan for his care in the future.

If your father has any bonds, now may also be a good time to cash them in and use them for his care costs.

Some whole life insurance policies have a chronic illness rider, which means that your father could theoretically use the policy to pay for his long-term care. Again, certain conditions will need to be met in order to qualify. Talk to his insurance provider, or have him contact them if he is able to.

If your father is a veteran, the Veterans Aid and Attendance program may be able to help pay for his long-term care costs. The program provides up to $1,830 per month for those who qualify. The program has income and asset maximums, so keep that in mind.

There is always the option of selling the family home or other real estate assets if your father has them. The sale of real estate can provide a significant amount of money for care, but again, care costs can be astronomical. Don't rely solely on the sale of a home to pay for care.

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