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Skilled Nursing Facilities and Your Maryland Estate Plan


If you have never had to think about the differences among a nursing home, an assisted living facility, a memory care facility, a skilled nursing facility, and hospice care, consider yourself lucky.  It means that you are young enough and healthy enough not to have suffered a medical issue where the best-case scenario is to get used to a new normal.  Investigating these treatment options does not mean that you have given up on the ideal of aging in place in a multigenerational household where everyone helps each other.  It only means that you acknowledge the possibility that, as you age, an accidental injury or an acute illness could have more lasting effects than it would have had if it had occurred when you were younger.  A Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer can help you understand the medical and financial aspects of skilled nursing facilities and other types of treatment centers.

Not Quite a Hospital, but Not a Nursing Home

When a patient is hospitalized for a serious illness or injury, then being stable enough to leave the hospital does not always equal being healthy enough to go home and go on with your life as it was before the hospitalization.  Sometimes patients require additional rehabilitation and physical therapy before they are ready to go home.  Therefore, the patients go to a skilled nursing facility to continue their recovery.

At a skilled nursing facility, patients meet with physical therapists or occupational therapists several times per day.  Nurses on staff also help the patients with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and getting dressed, much like in a nursing home.  Patients stay in skilled nursing facilities for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and the level of care that the patient receives steps down as the patient makes progress toward engaging in activities of daily living without assistance.  Doctors evaluate patients at skilled nursing facilities periodically and determine when a patient has reached maximum medical improvement, in other words, the new normal.  The ideal scenario is that maximum medical improvement means being as healthy as you were before your hospitalization, or at least being able to live at home with only as much help as you can get from your family or from a home health aide.  In some cases, though, patients must move from the skilled nursing facility to a nursing home, where the nursing staff will provide as much help as the patient needs with the tasks of daily living.  Put another way, you go to a skilled nursing facility to get better, but you go to a nursing home to maintain the status quo.

How Affordable Are Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Medicare pays for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility for patients aged 65 and older.  If you are younger than 65, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or hybrid life insurance will cover some or all of the cost.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About Planning for Medical Care in Retirement

A Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney can help you plan to afford the various types of long-term care that you may need in the future.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.




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