Saturday, May 19, 2018

Is a Personal Care Home the Same as a Nursing Home?


[This article was written by Elizabeth A. White, CELA* an attorney with Marshall, Parker and Weber].
           Is a personal care home the same as a nursing home? This is a common question for families looking into care options for themselves or their loved ones. The answer is, no, although sometimes the two get confused.
           Personal care homes are residences that provide seniors support with instrumental activities of daily living and/or activities of daily living. Assistance with instrumental activities of daily living can include help with housekeeping and laundry, medication management, shopping and meal preparation, using the telephone, and making appointments. Examples of activities of daily living that personal care homes may provide assistance with include eating, toileting, personal hygiene, and bathing. Each personal care home can provide a description of what services they provide to their senior residents. Usually there are more and more varied activities available to seniors in personal care homes than to those in nursing homes, because personal care residents are better able to participate than those living in a nursing home setting.
           Although nursing homes also provide assistance with many of the activities listed above, seniors needs in a personal care home do not meet the higher level of services provided in a nursing home. While seniors in personal care home environments need some help with care, this help can successfully be provided in a more community like setting.
           Personal care homes are licensed by the Department of Human Services to protect the health, safety, and well being of the residents. There is staff available at personal care homes at all times in case of emergency, but not necessarily medical staff. Personal care homes are not reimbursed by Medicaid, and therefore you cannot apply for Medicaid benefits to pay for living in a personal care home. Options for payment include private pay and Veterans benefits. Generally, personal care home level of care is less expensive than nursing home level of care.
           Nursing homes provide a higher level of care than personal care homes. Like personal care homes, nursing homes are also licensed and inspected, but under a different set of standards. Skilled nursing and certain medical treatments are provided in nursing homes and medical supervision is available 24/7. Nursing homes do accept third party reimbursement though benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
           It is difficult decision for a senior to move from their home. Well intentioned children or family members often think that their parent or loved one needs to move from living independently to a nursing home. A personal care home may be a good in-between to provide the required services to the senior, but allow the senior more autonomy than they may have in a nursing home setting.  Detailed assessments of a senior’s assistance needs can help to determine the best place for a senior to thrive.
           ____                                                                                      __________________                                                                                                                                                 *Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Big Financial Danger Facing Older Adults


Recently I wrote about how death taxes impact Pennsylvania residents and their heirs. The conclusion was that for most of us, federal death taxes are not an issue. And Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax can take a modest bite from our accumulated wealth. [See my recent article Death Taxes For Pennsylvania Residents]
For many Pennsylvania seniors a much bigger risk to their goals of lifetime financial and personal security and passing along an inheritance is the possibility that their life savings will be used up paying for their care before death. Most seniors require care during an extended period of time prior to their deaths. The cost of that care, whether it is received at home, in assisted living, or in a nursing home, can quickly deplete a modest estate. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services recently announced that the average cost of a private room in a Pennsylvania nursing home is $330 a day. That’s over $120,000 a year!
Before my father passed away some years ago he spent 2 ½ years in a nursing home. At the current rates his 2 ½ year stay in a nursing home would have cost over a quarter of a million dollars. That is enough to wipe out the savings of most Pennsylvania seniors. 
So, for most seniors, it’s the potential cost of long term care rather than death taxes that should be the focus of their estate planning. Expert long-term care planning with the help of an elder law expert can help ensure that seniors will be able to:
    * remain financially independent,
    * maintain control,
    * maintaining privacy,
    * involve family members without burdening them,
    * maximize available government programs, and
    * leave an inheritance.
It is possible to put together a plan that will reduce the risk of long-term care costs.
 While last minute planning is possible the most effective planning is accomplished by those who plan well in advance of their need for long-term care. Seniors in their 60s and 70s should be planning now to protect themselves and their families from financial devastation in their 80s and 90s.
 As President John Kennedy said: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” John F. Kennedy, Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union. January 11, 1962
Pennsylvania seniors and their families can get expert planning guidance at any one of the four offices (Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Jersey Shore) of my law firm, Marshall, Parker and Weber. Visit our website www.paelderlaw.com or call us toll free at 800-401-4552 for more information.