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Could you be confined to a nursing home?

The answer has been yes for many Americans who are still in the prime of their lives. All that it takes is one medical event or a car accident. Not having the proper plan in place could lead to years without a voice.

The New York Times recently reported on numerous individuals who could live in their communities, but have been confined to nursing homes. In this post, we want to discuss how an estate plan could avoid this situation in the first place.

Never-could-happen-to-me stories

A 53-year-old man paralyzed after suffering a blocked blood vessel was stuck in a nursing home for 11 years. It took meeting the right person and a lawsuit before he was able to live on his own again with the help of an aide. He now has a job helping others in similar circumstances.

Another 48-year-old man has lived much of his life in a nursing home after a car crash left him a quadriplegic. He would enjoy more independence, but the lack of local infrastructure will not allow him to navigate in his wheel chair.

Federal data suggests that there could be more than 350,000 people living in nursing homes across the country who could possibly function well at home. Some are working age; others do not need round-the-clock care. While some states have focused on shifting Medicaid dollars to home support, Colorado is not mentioned in the article.

Guardianship proceedings: Plan ahead to avoid delay

In Colorado, having a comprehensive estate plan is one way to avoid the delay of a guardianship hearing. In our April 22 post, we discussed Medical Durable Power of Attorneys that list an agent who can make medical treatment decisions for you when you cannot.

While the individuals in the above stories are able to express some of their wishes, they each could have benefited from having an agent looking out for them right away. The MDPOA allows you to name someone who you know will advocate on your behalf for “quality of life” issues.

On the other hand, when a loved one becomes incapacitated and does not have an estate plan, there are ways that you can still help. Speak with an attorney about guardianship proceedings. An attorney can also assist in navigating Medicaid rules that may affect where your loved one lives and available support services.

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