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There is nothing in Medicaid Law that causes more confusion than the 5-Year Look Back Period.
Many people mistakenly believe that you can't do any planning within 5 years of needing care. This isn't exactly true.
Here's how the Look Back Period Works: If you go into a nursing home and want to apply for Medicaid benefits to pay the bill, you must be below the low asset thresholds. Many families try to transfer assets to their children so that they can qualify without spending all of their money on care.
However, when you apply for Medicaid, you must report any assets that you have gifted during the last 5 years. If you have made gifts, the state will impose a penalty period, during which time Medicaid will not pay your nursing home bill. The length of the penalty period depends on the amount of the gift. This is a problem because the nursing home is providing needed care and they deserve to be paid. But if you aren't eligible for Medicaid because you gave away your assets, then no one is paying their bill.
This could force the nursing home to sue your children for payment. If your family has already made gifts, there are ways to fix the problem.
There are also less risky options for Medicaid eligibility planning. While gifting during the 5-Year Look Back Period can be problematic, there are several other options available to protect assets, even after someone is in the nursing home.
To learn more, consider attending one of our complimentary Elder Law Workshops. Register on our website at www.sechlerlawfirm.com/workshops/ or call my office at 724-564-6615 to schedule an initial consultation.
Editors Note: This article was written by Tim Sechler, Esq., a Certified Elder Law Attorney and Principal of Sechler Law Firm, LLC.
Assisted Living Tours: Find the Right Fit for Your Loved OneBy: Country Meadows | Assisted LivingWe spend our entire lives raising families, managing households, working, balancing checkbooks and making countless decisions. As we age, these everyday duties can become more and more challenging. Making a well-informed and thoughtful choice about assisted living for yourself or a loved one is a significant decision that can impact overall well-being. Too often people wait until a crisis occurs, necessitating a quick decision when selecting senior living. Preparing for assisted living by researching options and taking assisted living tours allows individuals to thoughtfully select senior living accommodations.There are many reasons why visiting and taking assisted living tours in advance are important.Facility atmospherePaying visits and taking in-person assisted living tours allow you to see for yourself the overall atmosphere and ambience of the community. This includes noting cleanliness and the layout as well as the general feeling of the environment. This firsthand experience can provide insights into whether a community is a good fit for personal preferences and comfort.Staff interactionDuring assisted living tours, meeting staff members and interacting with current residents can provide valuable insights. Note the level of professionalism, friendliness and responsiveness of the staff while gauging the overall satisfaction and happiness of residents. Pay attention to staff achievements and organizational awards such as certifications in programs that recognize great places to work.Establishing relationships with co-workers and management during a visit provides customers with insights as to the teams willingness to communicate and work with residents and their families, fostering a sense of trust and confidence in the care to be provided.Services and amenitiesAssisted living communities offer various services and amenities. By visiting and taking assisted living tours, you can personally evaluate the quality and context of services offered, such as dining options, activities, care, transportation and other options. This helps ensure the facility meets specific needs and expectations.Care philosophyEvery assisted living community may have a unique approach to delivering care. By visiting and taking assisted living tours, you can ask thoughtful questions and gain a better understanding of the facilitys care philosophy to determine if it aligns with expectations.Safety and accessibilityTaking assisted living tours helps seniors assess safety and accessibility features in a community. This may include building layout, emergency response system options and general safety measures and policies. Understanding these aspects is vital for ensuring a secure living environment.Stress and anxietyKnowing and being familiar with potential living arrangements in advance reduces the stress and anxiety associated with making urgent decisions. Taking assisted living tours provides familiarity with the location and offers a sense of security during what can be a challenging time.Good fitUltimately, assisted living tours help prospective residents ensure the community is a good fit for individual wants and needs. Factors such as cultural compatibility, community engagement and overall feel of the environment is subjective and only can be assessed through direct experience.Time for questionsDuring assisted living tours, visitors have the chance to ask questions and seek clarification about various aspects of what everyday life will be like in the community. This helps individuals obtain detailed information about policies, costs and other factors that help customers make informed decisions.Plan for the futureVisiting and taking assisted living tours before a crisis allows individuals opportunities for better long-term planning. It provides the time to explore different options, compare facilities and make decisions based on careful consideration rather than under the pressure of urgent circumstances.Country Meadows
Pet Friendly Senior Living Benefits All Animal LoversBy: Country Meadows | Senior LivingThe bond between humans and animals is complex and deeply rooted. Studies have shown time and time again that animal companions can offer numerous benefits for people of all ages and can be a valuable tool in healthy aging. In pet friendly senior living, furry friends enhance the overall quality of life for residents.Some retirement communities like Country Meadows offer pet friendly senior living. For residents who dont have a pet of their own, each campus has house pets for everyone to love, spoil and enjoy. And Dynamic Living teams plan visits to and from animal rescue groups, volunteer opportunities to make pet toys and treats and special events such as dog weddings and furry sweethearts.Pets provide many benefits, including:CompanionshipPets provide companionship and emotional support, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation that some seniors may experience. A pet friendly senior living community provides many opportunities to interact with animals, whether individual pets or therapy animals.Stress reductionInteracting with pets has been shown to lower stress levels and promote relaxation, which can be especially valuable for seniors dealing with the challenges of aging. Staff at a pet friendly senior living community can help older adults provide care for beloved furry friends when needed.Physical activityHaving a pet encourages regular physical activity, such as walking dogs or playing with cats, which can help seniors stay active and maintain a healthier lifestyle.Social interactionPets can serve as conversation starters, fostering connections between residents and encouraging social interactions within the community. At pet friendly senior living, meeting neighbors animals is a great way to break the ice, start conversations and make new friends.Routine and structureTaking care of a pet can establish a daily routine and provides a sense of purpose, providing responsibility and stability.Improved mental healthSeveral studies have shown that pets boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, contributing to overall mental well-being. Pet friendly senior living provides many opportunities for residents to interact with animals, whether the pet lives on campus, is visiting or is part of an educational presentation.Cognitive stimulationInteracting with pets can stimulate cognitive functions, such as memory and problem-solving skills, which are essential for maintaining mental sharpness in our later years. Activities involving animals are effective in helping residents living with dementia in pet friendly senior living.Even if a resident chooses not to own their own furry friend, various animal-related activities are planned to provide opportunities for seniors to interact with pets. Some of these activities include:Pet therapyAnimals certified in therapy, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and even reptiles, visit pet friendly senior living communities to interact with residents. Therapy animals are known for their gentle temperament and are specifically trained to provide comfort and companionship. Residents can pet, cuddle or simply spend time with animals.Educational presentationsSome pet friendly senior living facilities invite animal experts to bring a variety of animals such as exotic birds, reptiles, small mammals and others, for residents to interact with and learn about.Volunteer opportunitiesMany residents at pet friendly senior living communities enjoy supporting local animal rescues. At Country Meadows, residents make dog biscuits for local shelters as well as toys and treats. And residents look forward to visiting shelters in their respective areas to donate items in person and meet shelter residents.BirdwatchingRegardless of whether or not one lives at a pet friendly senior living community, birdwatching is a fun opportunity to observe and enjoy local birds. At Country Meadows, residents often enjoy birding walks during which experts point out different birds, talk about their unique traits and educate residents about local habitats.Special activitiesPet friendly senior living communities like Country Meadows are able to offer unique interactions with various types of animals. At Country Meadows of Wyomissing, residents enjoyed a therapeutic puppy yoga session, which was more about cuddling than yoga. At the Forks in Easton location, residents spent their Valentines Day receiving pooch smooches from local shelter dogs, while at Country Meadows of Wyomissing, residents were invited to attend a doggie wedding.AquariumsHaving an aquarium in common areas or resident apartments can be therapeutic. Watching colorful fish swim can be relaxing and help reduce anxiety and stress. Aquariums often can be found regardless of whether or not a community offers pet friendly senior living.Pet friendly living at Country MeadowsWith research demonstrating that seniors benefit from regular animals, Country Meadows offers pet friendly senior living at each of its nine locations in Pennsylvania and one in Frederick, Maryland. Please contact us today to request information or to schedule a visit to meet our residents-human, canine, feline and avian! We look forward to meeting you.
Lets Stay Together: Comparing Retirement Communities for Different Care NeedsBy: Country Meadows | Retirement CommunityCouples who have been together for decades have a deep bond and a desire to continue living together in a retirement community. When individual care needs vary, many retirement communities, such as Country Meadows, strive to support and accommodate these long-term relationships.Factors to keep in mind when comparing retirement communitiesLevels of care: Look for communities that provide various levels of assistance and support, such as independent living, personal care, memory support and skilled nursing, when comparing retirement communities. For example, if one member of a couple requires more assistance with activities of daily living, the retirement community may provide assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing and medication management. At the same time, the other member of the couple may be able to live more independently and take advantage of social activities and amenities.Having several levels of care on the same campus can allow couples to continue living together while accessing the appropriate level of care for each individuals needs.Shared living: Inquire about policies regarding shared living arrangements for couples with different care needs when comparing retirement communities. Ask whether its possible for one partner to receive care and support within the same living unit or nearby, allowing the couple to remain together.Location: Consider the location when comparing retirement communities. Is it in a desirable area close to amenities, healthcare facilities and social activities? Think about your proximity to family and friends as well.Support services: When comparing retirement communities, consider the level of healthcare and support services available within the community. Does it have on-site healthcare professionals, access to medical care, assistance with activities of daily living and emergency response systems? Evaluate whether the community can meet current and future healthcare needs for both partners.Amenities and services: Assess the amenities and services offered when comparing retirement communities. Look for facilities offering things that are important to both individuals to meet varying hobbies and interests. These might include fitness centers, swimming pools, libraries, social and recreational activities, transportation services, housekeeping and maintenance. Determine which amenities are important to you and match your lifestyle.Dining options: Food is one of lifes great indulgences, so when comparing retirement communities, also compare meal quality. How many meals are offered each day? Are snacks and guest meals available? Are various dietary needs accommodated? Make arrangements to have a meal at retirement communities you are seriously considering to, literally, get a taste of that lifestyle.Housing options: When comparing retirement communities, explore the range of housing accommodations available, such as all-rental apartments, villas, townhomes or cottages. Consider the size, layout and features of the units. Evaluate whether the accommodations suit your preferences, offer enough room for two individuals and any potential future needs, such as accessibility or modifications.Financial considerations: When comparing retirement communities, you may come across many financial models which may be confusing. Understand the costs involved with each care level, including upfront fees, monthly rental and additional charges for services or amenities. Review the financial stability of the community and consider long-term affordability.Emotional and spiritual support: At Country Meadows, on-staff chaplains offer counseling and services honoring various spiritual traditions. When comparing retirement communities, look for those that provide emotional support and counseling for couples to help navigate the challenges and transitions of aging together.Community culture and activities: Understand the community culture and the types of activities and social events offered when comparing retirement communities. Attend community events to get a sense of the atmosphere and the opportunity to engage with other residents. Determine if the community aligns with your interests and promotes an active and fulfilling lifestyle.Resident feedback and reviews: Seek out feedback from current residents and their families and read online reviews. When comparing retirement communities, these simple inquiries can provide insights into the experiences of those already living in the community.Staff and management: When comparing retirement communities, you will probably meet with members of the marketing and management teams during your initial visit. Be sure to note their friendliness, responsiveness and professionalism. Inquire about staff-to-resident ratios and the availability of co-workers for assistance and support.By considering these factors, you can make a more informed decision when comparing retirement communities to find one that aligns with both partners lifestyle, preferences and needs. Its important to visit multiple locations, ask questions and involve both partners in the decision-making process to find the best fit.Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus in Frederick, Maryland. We offer a wide range of services to serve a variety of resident needs including restorative care, rehabilitation, personal care and assisted living, memory support and independent living services. If you or a loved one are beginning the retirement planning journey and would like more information about our communities, please contact us today. Were here to help.Country Meadows
At Sechler Law Firm, LLC, our mission is to help families make great plans. A great estate plan is more than just a set of documents. It is a comprehensive and well thought out written strategy on how to deal with lifes unfortunate twists and turns. Our process first provides you with the education necessary to make informed decisions with regard to your planning. Then we put the proper documents and legal framework in place to respond to lifes unfortunate changes.Our Estate Planning law office is headquartered in Cranberry, PA. From this office, we happily serve the residents of Cranberry, Mars, Wexford, Pittsburgh, Butler and the residents of surrounding communities. As one of the regions only Certified Elder Law Attorneys, Tim Sechler and his team often assist families from across Western Pennsylvania.We understand that the pursuit of health, wealth and happiness is the goal of most families. We want you to be able to pursue these goals, or whatever goals you may have, knowing that you have a back up plan if life throws you a curveball like a death, disability or nursing home need. With education as our foundation, we will work with you to make decisions to Shield What Matters Most to you.Practice AreasEstate PlanningCustomized planning doesnt have to be difficult for you. We strive to make the process easy. The first step is to identify your concerns so that we can make suggestions regarding your plan.Elder Law Crisis PlanningA significant percentage of our practice is dedicated to helping families navigate the long term care maze. We help with Asset Protection and eligibility for Medicaid and Veterans Benefits.Trust And Estate AdministrationIf you have lost a loved one, we can help you take the necessary steps to help handle their affairs.Tims estate planning practice is focused on guiding clients through the complicated maze of balancing transfer strategies, wealth preservation, and family values in the planning process.Tim is a Combat Veteran, having served in Afghanistan as a member of the West Virginia Air National Guard. Prior to leaving the military, Tim had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. His experiences in the military have led him to thoroughly enjoy working with Veterans and their families.Tim received his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law, and his Master of Business Administration from the Duquesne University Donahue Graduate School of Business. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from West Virginia University, majoring in Finance. Tim is licensed to practice Law in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.Recently, Tim has been seen frequently as a guest on KDKAs Pittsburgh Today Live, and has been quoted in several local print publications. For the last several years, he has been honored to be chosen as a Super Lawyers Rising Star, an award given to less than 2.5% of Tims peers. Tim enjoys educating the public about Elder Law and Estate Planning. He has spoken to thousands of people regarding estate planning and has averaged more than 50 speaking events per year.Tim became a Certified Elder Law Attorney* in 2017. A CELA is more than just an attorney who specializes in the field of elder law. CELAs are committed, through certification, to maintaining and improving their proficiency with continual practice and continuing legal education. Becoming certified in elder law validates a lawyers specialty to handle issues that affect senior citizens.Tim and his wife, Robyn, are raising three beautiful children in their home in Mars, PA.*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation.