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Atlanta Georgia Elder Care And Special Needs Planning Blog

Estate planning for special needs children

Most Georgia parents understand the need for a competently prepared estate plan to pass their assets to their children. This need becomes even more critical for parents of children with special needs. Parents with special needs children should consider some of the following suggestions to ensure that their special needs child receives the proper care after they are gone.

Special needs parents should first consider the child's future. Is the child expected to live a normal life span or die at an unusually early age? Will the child be able to live independently? The answers to these questions can be critical to protecting the child's future. The parents must also consider the child's eligibility for government benefits, such as those provided by Medicaid and Social Security Supplement Insurance. A disabled child may also become eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Understanding estate recovery under Medicaid

Georgians who receive Medicaid are often extremely thankful for the financial assistance. However, they are often surprised and saddened when they learn that their home and assets may be subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery after they die. This program was enacted by the Georgia legislature in 2006 pursuant the requirement in the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 2003. The federal statute requires the states to enact laws allowing for the recovery of money paid out of Medicaid for long term care and home and community-based care paid for by Medicaid.

The program can affect persons of any age who reside in a nursing facility, intermediate care facility or other medical institution. Persons older than 55 who receive nursing home care or community-based services may also find that they are subject to estate recovery. The state government is required to provide notice of potential liability for estate recovery when an individual first applies for Medicaid assistance.

Spotting abuse and neglect of at-risk adults in Georgia

Residents of Georgia who place their family members in nursing homes or other special care institutions worry about the quality of care that will be provided. They are especially concerned about physical abuse and failure to provide proper care. Can abuse be detected? What can be done about it?

Abuse of elderly adults usually involves physical harm of some kind. A patient in a nursing home, for example, may fall or suffer another type of injury because the nursing home staff failed to provide proper preventative care. On some occasions, an unscrupulous nursing home staff member will steal the patient's identity and use that theft to steal the patient's assets. Nursing home patients are often the subject of emotional abuse from one or more staff members who lack the patience to deal with an elderly person's infirmities. Sexual abuse is also possible because elderly persons lack the ability to detect the behavior or to stop it. Another form of abuse is the failure of a care giver to provide proper care for an elderly patient.

A summary elder care costs in Georgia

One of the most challenging issues for a Georgia family that has a member requiring elder care can be finding the lowest cost facility and methods to pay for the care. While Georgia does not provide direct financial assistance for elder care, the state provides its citizens with links to federal and private funding sources that can significantly ease the financial burden of caring for aging loved ones.

Elder care is usually divided into three categories: assisting living, home care and adult day care. The average monthly cost for assisted living in Georgia is $3,100, about 22 percent below the national average of $4,000 per month. Some areas of the state, such as Albany, Columbus, Savannah, Augusta, and Warner Robins, have even lower monthly costs that range from $2,300 to $2,950. Unfortunately, some areas of the state, such as Macon, Brunswick, Gainesville, and Dalton, monthly costs between $3,484 and $4,145. If the patient requires memory care for Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, monthly costs can increase from $620 to $930. The average hourly rate for home care in 2019 is $19.00, which is $2.00 lower than the national average. As with costs for assisted living, costs for home care vary across the state from $2.25 below the state average to $1.00 above the average. The average daily cost of adult day care in Georgia is about $12.00 below the national average. In 2019, the average statewide rate is $60 per day, ranging from $25-$40 in places such as Brunswick and Savannah. The highest rates for adult day care can be found in Atlanta, where daily rates vary between $77 and $79.

Affording the nursing home: Some possible options

If there is one thing that is certain, it's that medical care is expensive in the United States. Nursing homes are no exception to that rule.

For most senior citizens, the major obstacle they face is finding a good residence in old age. Assisted living and nursing homes vary in price depending on a number of factors, but the average that people pay is between $2,000 and $5,000 each month.

The benefits of a special needs trust

Planning for the special needs of loved ones, such as disabled loved ones, is important for families who have disabled loved ones, or others with special needs, to care and plan for. It is beneficial for families faced with concerns for special needs loved ones to understand how legal tools can help them with their special needs planning and concerns.

One legal tool that can help with special needs planning is a special needs trust. A special needs trust can help disabled loved ones care for their needs but also allow them to receive the government assistance they need. It is important when setting up a special needs trust to understand the legal requirements of the trust and to ensure it is properly drafted and is valid. The intent of the trust must specify that trust funds are provided for the beneficiary's care and daily needs in addition to the assistance they receive from the government.

Georgia protects residents' rights in long-term care facilities

Anyone in Georgia who puts a loved one in a long-term care facility wants be assured that the facility will provide adequate and appropriate care. Unfortunately, not all operators of long-term care facilities make the same commitment to their patients. The Georgia Department of Community Health has therefore promulgated a Residents' Bill of Rights for long-term care facilities.

The Residents' Bill of Rights is embodied in a state regulation, and it therefore has the same legal effect as a statute enacted by the legislature. The bill of rights endeavors to provide comprehensive regulation of every aspect of the resident-caregiver relationship, including the need for proper administration and training, privacy for residents and safe-guarding patients' civil rights. Other regulations govern the payment of charges for care and methods of protesting potential improper billing. Each long-term care facility is required to provide written notice to all patients before they are admitted of the resident's rights. The facility must also establish a procedure for processing complaints about any perceived deprivation of a resident's rights.

What is a 'stay put right' for special education students?

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides many benefits for children with special needs. IDEA is intended to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education. When a special needs child is accepted into the program, that child is given an individualized educational program. Any proposed change in an IEP can be extremely disruptive, and IDEA provides a method for avoiding or minimizing the disruption.

The method is called a "stay put right." A "stay put right" allows the parents of the child to exercise their right under IDEA to preserve the status quo while they attempt to work out a solution with the school about how the child should be treated. The term "IEP" is a bit misleading because it implies that it covers only physical placement of the child, as between two different schools. In fact, an IEP designates the school that the child must attend and also describes the various educational programs for which the child may be eligible.

How to choose a nursing home for an aging parent

As your parents age, there may come a point when you realize they need long-term care. It's never easy to come to this realization, but it's important to take the appropriate action if the time comes.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that one nursing home is as good as the next. Making a rash decision could lead to a variety of mistakes, such as choosing a facility that doesn't have the best reputation for patient care.

Nursing home discharge or transfer can require patient consent

The state of Georgia places strict limits on the right of nursing homes to discharge or transfer patients without consent. Even those situations in which the facility is exercising its legal right to discharge or transfer a patient require adherence to the procedures that have been prescribed by the state.

The general rule in Georgia is that no resident of a nursing home may be transferred or discharged without consent unless one of four factors has been met.

  • A non-consensual transfer or discharge is necessary for the patient's welfare, and the failure to discharge or transfer the patient will result in injury or illness to the patient or others.
  • Allowable charges are seriously delinquent.
  • The patient no longer requires the level of care currently being provided.
  • The facility is unable to meet the patient's needs.

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