Category Archives: Uncategorized

Medicaid Gets Harder To Tap

There is a great article in The Wall Street Journal by Kelly Greene concerning Medicaid and long term care.  If you are wondering if Medicare or Medicaid can assist with the costs, this is a must read!  Thank you Kelly for such great information!

Medicaid Gets Harder To Tap by Kelly Greene

Families hoping to use Medicaid to help pay for long-term care are facing tougher restrictions—though some states are getting stricter than others.

In Texarkana, Texas, for example, you can get Medicaid to pay for a nursing-home stay after simply buying an annuity with any savings that exceed the qualifying limit, says John Ross IV, a lawyer who specializes in elder-law issues there.

[31family] Thomas Kuhlenbeck

But just across the state line, Arkansas’s Medicaid program has told him it won’t accept the same practice, he says.

Medicare doesn’t cover much in the way of long-term care. That falls primarily to Medicaid, the jointly funded state and federal program intended for the poor. The program now is shouldering 40% of the country’s long-term-care spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To be eligible for Medicaid in most states, you generally can have no more than $2,000 in cash and investments, along with a house and a car. (Spouses are allowed to keep varying amounts as well in different states.) In the past, regulators looked at any gifts you made up to three years before applying for Medicaid. In 2006, a new federal law increased the “look back” period for most transfers to five years.

States are in charge of qualifying people needing long-term care for Medicaid, working within federal rules, and that leaves room for different interpretations, says David Zumpano, an estate-planning lawyer and CPA in New Hartford, N.Y.

“States are adopting the Nancy Reagan strategy—they just say ‘no,'” he says.

In some cases, states—many of which are anticipating budget shortfalls—are trying to retrieve money from the estates of people who used Medicaid to pay for long-term care, Mr. Zumpano says. Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia are all tinkering with ways to recover Medicaid expenses.

What’s more, some states are proposing Medicaid cuts to routine dental care in nursing homes, the elimination of adult day-health programs, and increasing the number of daily living activities that patients need help with to qualify.

So-called Medicaid planning—paring down assets in order to qualify—raises ethical issues for many people. And depending on where you live, Medicaid-funded long-term care may not provide the options you would prefer, such as home care or assisted living.

Still, there are situations in which asset-rich families—particularly those who own farms or timberland—need assistance, says Mr. Ross in Texarkana.

Here’s how to preserve some assets and possibly still qualify for help.

Get a professional opinion. Consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in elder care to find out what the current laws are where your loved one needing long-term care lives—and how the rules are changing. There are attorney directories at Naela.org and ElderLawAnswers.com.

Give the house but keep the cash. There is a waiting-period penalty for making a gift within five years of applying to Medicaid for long-term care, determined by dividing the local cost of care into the amount you gave away. So, for example, if care costs $8,000 a month in your state and you gave away $80,000, you would not be eligible for Medicaid for 10 months.

One strategy: If you have a house and some savings, and you need to enter a nursing home, you could transfer the house to your children and use your cash to pay for care during the penalty period, Mr. Zumpano says.

Fill the gap with insurance. John McManus, an estate-planning attorney in New Providence, N.J., has clients who are buying long-term-care insurance to cover the five-year look-back period. That way, they can use their assets until coverage kicks in, and then transfer what is left to their children.

“It’s a way to hedge their bets without having to buy lifetime long-term-care insurance coverage, which has gotten really expensive,” he says.

Create a trust. States are scrutinizing trusts along with asset transfers, but if you set up an irrevocable asset-protection trust more than five years in advance, it can work if it’s “properly drafted,” says Ann-Margaret Carrozza, an elder-law attorney in New York.

The key is to give the parent as many protections and powers as possible while ensuring the trust remains irrevocable, she says. Parents setting up such a trust also need to make sure that it spells out that they can live in the house and that no one can sell it without written consent.

When should you set up the trust? Ms. Carrozza’s rule of thumb is in your 50s. “The people who do it are adult children who have seen their parents go on Medicaid and lose their homes,” she says.

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Pet Enrich The Lives Of Our Elderly

I am a committed animal lover.  I cannot imagine a life without my furry loved ones any more than a life without my human loved ones.   During my years working with the elderly and helping them find assisted living, I have often seen families dealing with the trauma of moving a loved one to assisted living and knowing that they will have to separate that person from their beloved pet.

Thankfully, I have seen a very positive trend in assisted living communities during the past few years.  Communities are recognizing this important, life enhancing relationship and, more and more, are becoming pet friendly.  Allowing a person to keep their pet, which they almost always identify as their child, gives them a sense of hope and purpose.

If you are considering moving a loved one to assisted living and they own a pet, please do your research and try to locate an appropriate community that will allow them to keep the pet.  It will do wonders for their qualify of life!    ~ Becky

Seniors Get Fit With SilverSneakers Program

We all know the importance of getting in shape and staying fit.  Everywhere we turn, we are being reminded of how our nation is heavier and less fit than ever before and the physical problems that can occur because of it.  However, our mental health is suffering as well.  People who maintain a healthy weight have a lower risk of dementia compared with those who are underweight or obese, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa.  With Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias reaching epidemic proportions, exercise and a healthy diet should be a priority for all.

Silver Sneakers is a fun, energizing program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity and offering social events.

Unlock the door to greater independence and a healthier life with SilverSneakers. Health plans around the country offer our award-winning program to people who are eligible for Medicare or to group retirees. SilverSneakers provides a fitness center membership to any participating location across the country. This great benefit includes:

  • access to conditioning classes, exercise equipment, pool, sauna and other available amenities
  • customized SilverSneakers classes designed exclusively for older adults who want to improve their strength, flexibility, balance and endurance
  • health education seminars and other events that promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle
  • a specially trained Senior AdvisorSM at the fitness center to introduce you to SilverSneakers and help you get started
  • member-only access to online support that can help you lose weight, quit smoking or reduce your stress
  • SilverSneakers Steps for members without convenient access to a location
I would recommend Silver Sneakers to any older adult that wants to take control and maintain their health for as long as possible.    ~ Becky

Nutrition and Senior Citizens

I have long believed that seniors don’t always follow a sound diet or get the nutrition that they need in order to maintain their health.  This has been confirmed over and over again based on my experiences of placing seniors in assisted living and seeing how their overall mental and physical health can improve once they start eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.  I have seen insulin dependent diabetics go off the insulin after a few months at a care facility, I have seen residents that came out of rehabilitation and weren’t expected to live for more than a month turn around and get stronger, and I have seen residents improve to the point that they could return home if they so chose to do so.  These are just a few examples of what a proper diet and proper nutrition can do.  The following video is interesting proof to my theory that seniors aren’t getting what they need even if they look healthy.  ~ Becky

Senior Citizen Undergarments

Hi everyone.  I haven’t been very good about keeping up with the blog the past few weeks, but I’m back and I thought I’d start out with something funny and something we can all relate to (or at least most of us!).  I hope you enjoy and keep checking in, I’ve got some good information coming the next few weeks.    ~ Becky

Phoenix’s Senior Cab Program Gives Senior Break

Aging Receive Vouchers If They’re In Pilot Program

By Jahna Berry

The Republic

Phoenix seniors can use vouchers to ride in taxis at a discount if they participate in a new city pilot program.

Phoenix resident Marjorie Penseyres uses her vouchers to buy groceries, run hardware store errands and to go to doctor appointments.

“I am frugal and I can’t afford to take a cab at regular rates,” said Penseyres, who stopped driving five years ago. Vision and other health problems make it difficult for her to use buses and light rail. Without city programs like Senior Cab and Reserve-A-Ride, she has few transportation options, Penseyres said.

“It’s really a blessing,” said the Phoenix senior, who declined to give her age.

In the Senior Cab program, riders purchase “cab dollars” that can be used alone to pay for cab fare or they can be combined with real money. A book of 20 “one dollar” vouchers costs $6, which means the city covers 70 percent of the cost of the vouchers.

The vouchers are accepted by 19 participating taxi cab companies, said Gabriel Peiz, a Phoenix public transit supervisor who oversees Dial-A-Ride and Senior Cab.

The city set aside $125,000 for a 19-month pilot taxi program that began in December. About 100 people have signed up so far.

Flexible option

The pilot is a big improvement over Phoenix’s Dial-A-Ride and Reserve-A-Ride programs, Penseyres and others in the pilot program say.

Dial-A-Ride is limited to trips within city limits and can have a long wait time for same-day trips. Reserve-A-Ride is primarily for transportation to and from senior centers.

Senior Cab is really flexible said Faye Jenkins, 73. Jenkins has never owned a car and her family members are unable to give her rides to all of the places that she needs to go.

When Jenkins used Senior Cab vouchers to go to a medical appointment, the service was fast and the driver was really courteous, Jenkins said. She plans to use the taxi program more often, the Phoenix resident said.

“I love to go to the movies, and I haven’t been able to because of my health,” Jenkins said. “I’d love to go out and eat.”

More on this topic

Transit options for seniors

• Senior Cab: Riders who are 65 and older can buy discount vouchers that can be used like real money to pay cab fare. The vouchers can also be combined with real money and used with any of 19 participating taxi companies.

Cost: Twenty “one dollar” vouchers cost $6.

Information: For voucher information, call MV Transportation at 602-801-1163 and 602-801-1164. For rides, customers should call taxi firms directly.

• Dial-A-Ride: Riders who are 65 and older and disabled. Seniors can call for same-day transportation within Phoenix limits. Depending on demand, riders may wait for a few hours for pickup.

Cost: $3.50 for a one-way trip.

Information: 602-253-4000, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Reserve-A-Ride: Riders who are 60 and older or disabled. Reserve-A-Ride primarily to transport riders to and from senior centers from home to centers and back or for group senior center activities. Seniors should call two to three days in advance to reserve transportation, mostly to and from senior centers.

Cost: Suggested contribution $1.25.

Information: To receive the service, riders register by calling 602-262-4400, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. If you are disabled you must fax a statement indicating your disability to 602-534-4252. To reserve a ride call 602-262-4501.

Taking The Fear Out Of Assisted Living

On 3/5/10, I was honored to be interviewed on the Dr. CJ show regarding my services in the assisted living industry.  If you’d be interested in learning more about the role an assisted living counselor and placement agent can play in this process, please go to the site where you can hear the entire interview!    ~ Becky

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hellodrcj