Over the last several decades, the population of elderly in the United States has grown steadily and rapidly, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, experts tell us that by the year 2050, the number of older (age 65 and older) Americans will outnumber their younger (age 21 and younger) counterparts for the first time ever. As the number of seniors living in the U.S. continues to increase, issues that affect them, and those who care for them, are becoming more important as well. Arizona has long been a coveted retirement location because of its year around hot, dry, sunny climate. Not surprisingly, 11 percent of the population in Phoenix are part of the “62 and older” demographic.
Whether you are a senior yourself, a caregiver, or a loved one, finding resources to help with many of these issues can be challenging. To help get you started, the Phoenix, Arizona elder law attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC have compiled some elder law resources that may be beneficial. If you have a specific elder law question or concern, please feel free to contact out office to schedule a consultation.
Local Government and Law Enforcement
As a resident of the City of Phoenix, you will undoubtedly find the need to contact local government offices from time to time. The best place to start for general city resources is the website for the City Phoenix. On the city’s website you can find links to helpful information such as how to pay city bills on the PHX Pay Online website and a listing of City Departments and Programs. At some point you may even need to communicate with the City of Phoenix Police Department. If so, contact information can also be found on the city’s website. Phoenix is one of the largest cities in the country in terms of area, covering over 500 square miles. Most of the city lies in Maricopa County; however, the city also spreads into Pinal County. If you are outside the city proper, you may be serviced by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department or the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.
Nursing Homes and Home Health Care
The natural aging process typically results in physical and/or mental deterioration at some point. For some seniors the aging process is slow, allowing them to remain in their own homes for much longer than for those who suffer more serious symptoms of the aging process. Fortunately, however, seniors today have a wide variety of options when it comes to assistance with the effects of aging. Home health care services can often delay the need to move to a long-term care facility for months, even years. Fortunately, residents of Phoenix, Arizona have a wealth of options when it comes to home health, assisted living, and nursing home care. For help locating the right type of care and the right facility for your needs, you might find the following resources helpful:
- Arizona Department of Health Services which offers a list of licensed nursing facilities within the State of Arizona.
- Care Planning Council of Arizona which also offers a list of skilled nursing facilities as well as alternatives such as home care and assisted living facilities. You will also find a wealth of information and resources for issues that impact the elderly.
- Nursing Home Compare located on the government’s official Medicare.gov website offers a list of facilities along with ratings and additional information.
The cost of long-term care (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 2017, the average yearly cost of LTC throughout the United States was $80,000. In the State of Arizona, residents paid a little more with the average cost running just over $90,000 per year. 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. While Medicaid does cover LTC expenses, the Medicaid eligibility guidelines can be problematic for many seniors in the absence of advanced planning. Consequently, the estate planning attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC urge you to incorporate Medicaid planning into your comprehensive estate plan as soon as possible to avoid facing transfer penalties that can be imposed if you transfer assets within the five year period prior to applying for Medicaid benefits.
No matter how old we are, socializing remains important to both our mental and physical well-being. In fact, getting out and spending time with friends and neighbors is vital to both the physical and mental health of seniors. If you are a veteran, there are several VFW posts in the Phoenix area. There are also several senior centers sponsored by the City of Phoenix located throughout the city.
State and Federal Assistance Programs
An excellent all around elder law resource to be aware of is the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s, Aging and Disability Services (ADS) which offers programs and initiatives for older adults in Arizona. Among other things, you will find information about reporting elder abuse as well as links to resources for caregivers on the ADS website.
Many seniors also qualify for assistance from the Social Security disability or retirement program. For information on Social Security disability benefits, visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website. Information about your Social Security retirement benefits can also be found on the 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. 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 need help covering the high cost of long-term care as a senior, you may also need to apply for Medicaid, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) in the State of Arizona. Information and application instructions can be found on the AHCCCS website.
The good news is that many of these state and federal programs do provide much needed assistance. Navigating the rules, regulations, and application procedures required to get qualified for benefits, however, can be a frustrating and all too often futile endeavor. If you are a caregiver applying for a family member or other loved one and you do not yet have the legal authority to act on his/her behalf it can be even more difficult to procure assistance. At Morris Hall PLLC we are committed to helping you obtain the benefits that you, or your loved one, deserves. If you find that you need assistance understanding the numerous benefits available, have been denied benefits, or are faced with the need to obtain guardianship over a loved one before you are even legally qualified to apply for benefits, we would be honored to help.
One of the best places for seniors, and those who care for them, living in the Phoenix area is the Seniors Resource Guide. On that website, you will find numerous links to resources in the areas of housing, health care, and professional services, all aimed at seniors and their families. Finally, the Area Agency on Aging has a 24 hour information and assistance hotline for seniors (602-264-4357) that may be able to direct you to additional resources.
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.