We probe into the subject of estate planning frequently here, but estate planning is just one of the things you must consider when you are planning for the future. There are some elder law issues that must be addressed as well if you want to be comprehensively prepared for all of the eventualities of aging. We live during interesting times when we know more than we ever have in the past about healthy lifestyle choices. This coupled with the steady advances in medical technology has resulted in increased longevity. And though it is great to live a long and robust life, there are some challenges that our elders face at times.
One of these that many people will have to address is the high cost of long-term care. Contrary to what many people believe, Social Security does not cover long-term care so you must keep this in mind when you are planning for the future. At any given time one out of every four individuals who have reached the age of 85 are residing in a nursing home, and the average length of stay is about two and a half years. In 2010 the national average cost for a yearlong residence in a nursing home in the United States was $83,500 so we are talking about a very significant expense.
In addition to long-term care costs the possibility of dementia should be taken into consideration. Alzheimer’s disease strikes approximately 40% of those who reach the age of 85, and there are other causes of dementia as well so upwards of half of the oldest old suffer from dementia. Dementia can rob its victims of the ability to make sound medical, personal, and financial decisions. To avoid a court-ordered guardianship in such a case legal preparations must be made in advance, and this is something that you would want to discuss the next time you meet with your estate planning attorney.