I recently had a family come in to see me. Betty was brought in by her son and daughter. Betty was still going strong, but at age 90 she was beginning to become a high-risk person living in her home. In the course of talking with her, she expressed her strong desire to stay independent and to live at home as long as possible. She expressed to me something that is a recurring theme with some of my clients.
Betty was convinced that she would have to stay at home with no assistance until she eventually crashed and burned and had to go into the nursing home. She felt that way because she “had no money.” I began looking through her worksheet and discovered that she had hundreds of acres of land valued well in excess of half a million dollars. While she was “cash poor,” in my book she was land rich.
It seems silly to say, but sometimes we have to be reminded that the longer that we stay out of long term care, the more money that we save. Similarly, the better the health that we have, the more likely it is that we will not need long term care. And, finally, the greater we reduce our health risk, the less likely it is that we are going to get into a health crisis.
One of the “jobs” of my office is to show people how to access their resources, how to use those resources wisely, how to get good care in their home, and how to make their assets last as long as possible to help them achieve their personal goal of staying at home as long as possible, reducing the cost of long term care, and being safe. But the first step is to convince our families to spend money now to take care of themselves now.
It sounds like a simple process, but I know that it is complex, and I know that it requires the expertise of a qualified elder law attorney, a care coordinator, and a benefits specialist.