In recent decades, the number of older Americans has steadily increased as a result of advances in science, medicine, and an overall increase in the standard of living coupled with the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is now moving into their retirement years. As a result, issues that impact seniors, and those who care for them, have taken on a heightened importance. Although seniors have many of the same legal and social concerns that their younger counterparts have, they also experience unique issues and problems. As of 2015, the estimated population of Las Cruces, New Mexico was just over 100,000 people, of which 13.1 percent are age 65 or older with 8.9 percent of all households consisting of someone age 65 or older living alone.
The basic premise of the laws of supply and demand dictate that as the demand for senior resources increases, so should the supply. To take advantage of those resources, however, you must know how and where to find them. To help you, the elder law attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC have put together some Las Cruces, New Mexico elder law resources for you.
Local Government and Law Enforcement
As a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico it is always a good idea to have some of the more frequently used local government resources handy. Many of those can be found on the City of Las Cruces’s official website. The website offers telephone numbers and contact information for most city departments as well as helpful information about the city itself. Things such as how to report an issue as well an extensive list of contact information for city services can be found on the website. It is equally important to be able to quickly and easily navigate to emergency contact information such as the Las Cruces Police Department which serves residents who live within the city limits. If you live outside the city limits you will need to contact the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Department.
Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Home Health Care
Most seniors prefer not to dwell on the physical and mental deterioration that frequently accompanies the natural aging process nor on the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s or another age-related dementia condition. While this is certainly understandable, you should still plan for the possibility that your body and/or mind will deteriorate with age given that the average American can expect to be around for many years beyond retirement age. If you do live well into your “Golden Years,” you will probably want to remain in the comfort of your own home for as long as possible. Fortunately, services such as home health care can often allow a senior to do just that. When living at home is no longer practical or safe, however, Las Cruces residents enjoy a variety of options that include assisted living facilities and around the clock skilled nursing care. It can, however, be difficult to find the right facility. If you need assistance locating the type of care you need, the following resources may help.
- New Mexico Care Planning Council–provides a list of nursing home facilities in the Las Cruces area as well as offers a variety of other resources to help you will issues related to long-term care and aging.
- Nursing Home Compare– this is found on the Medicare.gov site and is the official Medicare sit for the U.S. government. On the site you can search and compare skilled nursing facilities anywhere in the country.
- com-- offers a searchable data base of nursing home and other long-term care facilities in Las Cruces and surrounding area.
- Eldercare Locator– managed by the U.S. Department on Aging, Eldercare Locator also offers a searchable database to help you locate a facility in Las Cruces or the surrounding area.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest concerns when you, or a loved one, need LTC is the cost of that care. The cost of LTC in the United States has increased right along with the older population, and is expected to continue to increase in the years to come. In 2018, the average yearly cost of LTC throughout the United States was close to $90,000. In the State of New Mexico overall, the average annual cost of LTC was on par with the national average; however, Las Cruces residents pay slighter more, on average, at $112,000 per year for LTC in 2018. Because neither Medicare nor most basic health insurance plans cover the expenses associated with LTC, it is critical that you plan ahead to ensure you can cover your LTC expenses if necessary. Fortunately, Medicaid does cover LTC expenses; however, the Medicaid eligibility guidelines can make qualifying for benefits difficult if you failed to plan ahead. The elder law and Medicaid planning attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC don’t want you to get caught unprepared which is why we strongly recommend incorporating both long-term care planning and Medicaid planning into your comprehensive estate plan to ensure that you are prepared and protected in the event LTC is required at some point in the future for yourself or a spouse.
Retirement no longer means and end to your social life. On the contrary, most seniors enjoy a second chance at an active social life during their “Golden Years.” If you are looking for places to mingle or meet new friends, navigate the to Senior Programs page on the City of Las Cruces website to find out what is currently happening in the elder community. If you are a veteran, Las Cruces offers several VFW Posts that may interest you.
State and Federal Assistance
Many state and federal resources and assistance programs are geared specifically at seniors. An excellent example is the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department. Many seniors also qualify for assistance from the Social Security disability or Social Security retirement program. For information, including application instructions, visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website. If you are a veteran, or the surviving spouse or dependent of a veteran, you may also be entitled to a number of benefits through the Veteran’s Administration. Along with well-known benefits such as pension and disability benefits, you might qualify for additional benefits you may not be familiar with, such as Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefits. Once you reach retirement age, you will likely be automatically enrolled in the Medicare program. Although basic Medicare is free to all seniors, Medicare actually has four parts and the other three parts may come with a premium. If you have questions about a covered service or need to find a provider, the official Medicare website can help. In addition, if you need long-term care at some point the New Mexico Centennial Care is their Medicaid for seniors program may be able to help. To apply for Centennial Care benefits, navigate to the YesNM website.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of state and federal benefits and services available to help seniors. Making sense of the eligibility guidelines and navigating the application process, however, can be challenging. The elder law attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC are familiar with the various benefits and services to which you may be entitled and are committed to helping you with any questions or concerns you may have about eligibility or appealing a denial. Whether you are a senior yourself or a caregiver, we are here if you need us.
Our experienced attorneys are here to assist you in areas typically of concern to seniors and those who care for them, such as: incapacity planning, asset protection, probate and tax avoidance, and retirement planning. If you have additional elder law questions or concerns outside of our scope of practice, we would be happy to direct you to resources that can further assist you. Contact Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule an appointment.