WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, managing partner at White Plains-based Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, addressed the implications of the rising costs of dementia for Westchester County, advising seniors to take a proactive role in planning for the future.
Traditionally, most individuals suffering from advanced dementia and/or other Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s related illnesses in Westchester County were treated in nursing homes.
Over the last decade, however, there has been a significant shift from this model of care to one with greater emphasis upon “aging in place.” Today, more and more of these individuals are receiving care either at home, in an assisted living facility or in a continuing care retirement community for longer periods of time.
“Regardless of the housing option chosen, the need will still exist for significantly larger numbers of trained health care providers to attend to a growing aging population that is living longer,” said Enea, who has spent three decades protecting the rights of Westchester’s senior and disabled populations.
In Westchester County, the average private cost of 24/7 care at home is $7,000 to $10,000 per month. This is significantly less expensive than the cost of a nursing home, which is typically $385 to $425 per day ($140,525 to $155,125 per year).
“Fortunately there are a number of planning options available to seniors which will allow them to shelter their assets from the cost of care such as gifting of assets, utilizing an Irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, and/or purchasing long term care insurance,” Enea said.
If one is financially and categorically eligible, the federal/state program providing care for seniors either at home or in a nursing home is Medicaid - a “means tested entitlement program that looks at both the resources and income of the senior to determine eligibility. A senior who is single is not allowed to have more than $14,400 of savings and no more than $800 or $820 per month of income to be eligible. However, spouses are permitted to transfer assets to each other to help meet the financial eligibility requirement.
The transfer of assets to a trust will create a five-year ineligibility period for purposes of Medicaid nursing home eligibility. Once the five years have elapsed, however, the assets transferred will not be counted as available resources.