For many aging adults, it is easy to say, "I've paid taxes all my life, now it's time for me to retire and let the government send me a check." While this may be a nice theory, reality isn't so easy.
For many adults, caring for aging parents can be a stressful and expensive burden. While you have your own family, work, and responsibilities to worry about, you may be asked to help navigate the waters of Medicare to ensure your parents receive the care they need. For this reason, it's important you understand the basics of this program so you can help your parents when they may not be able to help themselves.
Medicare and Nursing Homes
If your parent needs help for everyday tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing, a nursing home is often the first option you may consider. However, Medicare has never paid for nursing home care for basic needs. Only those who require skilled care may receive Medicare assistance.
This means that your parent must be debilitated and require licensed nurses, physical or occupational therapists on a daily basis. Typical nursing home care is also not covered by standard health insurance; the only insurance policy that covers this type of care is Long Term Care Insurance. Without long term care insurance, they (or you) will likely to be paying out of pocket for the care they need.
Medicare and Medical Emergencies
If your aging parent has a medical emergency such as a surgery, or stroke, Medicare may cover their stay in a rehabilitation facility only until they are stable enough to go home. Once the doctors have determined they no longer need medical supervision, Medicare coverage ends.
At this point, the facility will call you letting you know you have two days or maybe a week to find another place for your parent to stay. If you don't want him living with you and he can't take care of himself on his own, you're now responsible for the bill of a nursing home.
Clearly, Medicare is not the answer when your parents simply get too old to safely care for their basic needs on their own. Without a significant medical need, the responsibility is often left to you or your siblings to care for aging parents.
To help ease the burden, look into additional services in your area which may enable your parents to stay in their home and receive certain care services such as meals-on-wheels, adult day services, or an in-home assistant. Most parents are likely to want to stay in their own homes, they are happier if care can be brought to them, rather than expecting them to move to a facility or your basement.
Plan ahead, make arrangements, and have resources in place ready to take action if and when care is needed. Parents don't want to be a burden on your family, but they may not have anywhere else to turn. Being prepared with a long term care insurance plan can alleviate the financial and emotional stress by providing the upmost standard of care for whatever your aging parents may need in the future.