2009-07-24 / Columnists

Spotlight On Elderlaw

21st Century Seniors: These ARE The Good Old Days!
Commentary By Nancy J. Brady, RN, Esq. And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.

Not so long ago, our grandparents often played a less active role in society than they do today. Television, Hollywood and the media portrayed the elderly as feeble, and fragile. Corporate America, which traditionally focused marketing efforts towards younger generations, is now adjusting their focus to address the needs of the aging population as consumers. Today's seniors face the same issues as their parents, but seniors are taking a more active role in the decisions that affect their health and finances.

Most of the wealth in this country is controlled by the over 60 age group, and they are using their wealth to remain active members of society. Activities include volunteering, gym memberships, vacationing, and purchasing retirement homes. Today's senior population, including the largest group, baby boomers, includes people in their 50's to over 100 years of age. The senior population now includes two generations! This wide age span includes those still working and planning for retirement, as well as those already retired, and those very elderly who require the care and support of younger generations.

In the early twentieth century, the average life span was less than 50 years of age. Today it is close to 80 years. The US Census Bureau projects that the number of Americans over age 65 will DOUBLE by the year 2030, and that two-thirds of today's 65 year olds will require some type of long term care during their lives. As of 2004, there were approximately 2.5 million Americans living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Approximately two thirds of seniors needing care rely on unpaid help- (family members) for their care. The cost of nursing home care in New York City and the five boroughs can be more than $12,000 per month. The cost of home care is about half that amount, for twelve hours a day. These services are NOT paid for by Medicare. Additionally, the Medicaid program has stringent eligibility requirements, and those requirements are being made more and more restrictive.

Baby boomers and seniors need to plan carefully for their futures so that their money outlives them, for the possibility that they may require long term care at some point in their lives, and to minimize estate taxes for the future generations. People with assets or high incomes to protect must purchase long term care insurance. People with assets or high incomes who are uninsurable (due to advanced age or medical condition) need to take steps as soon as possible to protect their hard earned assets from the costs of long term care. Finally, those people with larger estates (worth one million dollars or more) need to take steps to minimize estate taxes for the next generation. The time and expense involved in planning for the future is well worth the effort!

The attorneys can be reached at 718- 945-7777.

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