Learn more about Elder Law & Medicaid Services.

Michigan Elder Law and
Senior Housing Options


Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the needs of families and individuals as they age. Issues of aging include senior housing and home care, long-term (or nursing home) care, guardianships and health care documents, and Medicare, and Michigan Medicaid.

The Long Term Care Dilemma

As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.

Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid. Veterans (and their single surviving spouses) also may seek benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Medicare

Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.

Medicare Resources

Michigan Medicaid

Medicaid, is a joint federal-state program, Subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a form of welfare. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in Michigan, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs. An overview of all Michigan Medicaid programs is available online.

The Michigan Department of Community Health also publishes a helpful brochure overview of long-term care options.

Download "Access to Long-Term Care: Know Your Options." (Adobe Acrobat Reader required, click here to get it for free.)

Elder Law 101

Follow the link below to Elder Law 101 for an easy-to-understand presentation about Elder Law. Feel free to use the integrated functions to print any page, bookmark it to return later, or forward a copy to your friends, family members or financial advisor.

Elder Law 101

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are nearly 35 million seasoned citizens and by 2010 there will be some 40 million seasoned citizens. Thereafter, due to the graying of the Baby-Boom generation, we will see that figure jump to 53 million in 2020 and to 70 million in 2030! The good news is that Americans are living longer than ever. The bad news is that we eventually wear out physically, mentally or both. It is a classic Catch-22. Click here to learn more about Elder Law.

Senior Housing Options

Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that what has been home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime’s accumulation of “stuff.”

Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:

  • Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver’s seat.
  • Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
  • Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
  • Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.

Attorney Jerry Reif is a member of NAELA, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Resources