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The (Financial) Risks of Getting Old

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Let’s face it. You aren’t getting any younger. And that goes for your parents and, in some cases, your grandparents as well. However, with so many advances in medicine and treatments for disease and illness, many people are getting older. More and more these days, people are living well into their 70’s, their 80’s, even their 90’s and beyond, living happy and productive lives.

During that time, unfortunately, there is a greater risk of various degenerative illnesses creeping up on people. Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease…just to name a few. While many people continue to live longer lives, many are also suffering from debilitating illnesses that can make the later stages of life a daily struggle. It’s sad to say, but with an astounding number of people living well into their retirement years, the ability for society and governmental programs to assist them in their daily needs seems to have lost a lot of momentum.

With Social Security benefits supplying income to a large influx of retirees from the baby boomer generations, it is becoming increasingly difficult for seniors to receive livable wages on a regular basis. Some are fortunate enough to withdraw from pension funds or retirement savings account as a supplemental income. Many who are able to have taken to returning to the work force as part-time employees. Even so, that leaves a considerable gap for a lot of people to fill who aren’t so fortunate in health or wealth. These are the ones who turn to government-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid for the assistance they need in affording medication, some of which are critically essential to their survival as they battle various conditions. Some who have lost their ability as independent individuals look to facilities with assisted living. Others have been known to move in with younger relatives, and extreme cases have found themselves in nursing homes.

While Medicare does provide for those who require hospital stays or skilled nursing care (immediately after a hospital stay), their coverage only extends to the first 100 days of such care per incident. While the loophole of “per incident” could be exploitable for some, many at an advanced age who find themselves in nursing homes or in home health care that requires skilled nursing generally need it for a period lasting much longer than 3-4 months. With people surviving up to such an advanced age, it’s very likely many patients of this sort would need such services for several years. And for those who hope to save a few bucks by enrolling in Medicare services sometime after they become eligible, be aware. Enrolling into Part D plans (the plans that cover a portion of expenses related to prescription medication) after you are initially eligible could net you a penalty fee to pay on top of your normal premiums. And this fee lasts for the whole duration of your enrollment in Part D.

So, what are the elderly supposed to do? With so many seniors returning to the work force just to supplement income and limited resources for advanced care, many people worry about their assets and estates being used as collateral or payment just so they can meet their medical needs instead of being able to leave something behind for loved ones to inherit. It is important to consult experts on paths that might be taken. So, if you or someone you know and love is creeping up into advanced age, it is strongly advised to seek out the advice of experts in elder law who can help you and yours manage the finances needed to see them through the rest of their lives and leave something to those survived by them.

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