Since the turn of the 21st Century, the older population (defined as age 65 and older) in the United States has experienced a population explosion. That growth no signs that it is slowing down. On the contrary, experts predict that by the year 2050, older Americans will outnumber their younger (age 21 and younger) counterparts for the first time in history. With the growth of the older population, attention has shifted to the social and legal issues unique to the elderly and to those who care for them. As of the 2016, the United States Census Bureau estimated the population of Bemidji, Minnesota to be 14,664 people of which 14.8 percent are age 65 or older. Of the 5,339 households, 16.7 percent include someone age 65 or older living alone.
As a senior, or the loved one of an older adult, you will likely face social and legal challenges that are unique to the elderly. The good news is that there are resources available to help you with many of the issues you may face. The key, of course, is finding those resources. To help you in that regard, the elder law attorneys at German Law have compiled some commonly used elder law resources for the Bemidji, Minnesota area.
Local Government and Law Enforcement
Whether you are young or old, it is always wise to prepare for the possibility of an emergency by having contact information for some of the more frequently used local government resources handy. Many of those can be found on the City of Bemidji website. The website offers a wealth of helpful information, including a “How Do I” section and a “Community” section that is chocked full of information. It is equally important to be able to quickly and easily navigate to the relevant law enforcement agency online, should you need them. The Bemidji Police Department and the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office service residents who live in the Bemidji, Minnesota area.
Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Home Health Care
Most of us go to great lengths to remain in our own homes for as long as possible. As time goes by, however, you may reach at a point at which you realize that additional help is needed to care for yourself or for someone you love. Whether that means daily home health care, assisted living, or the type of care you can only receive from a nursing home, Bemidji offers numerous options from which to choose. A number of reliable resources are also available to help you find the care you need, including:
- Nursing Home Compare, found on the Medicare.gov website. is the official U.S. government’s website for Medicare, offering you the ability to search for and compare licenses nursing homes anywhere in the country.
- com offers a searchable data base of nursing home and other long-term care facilities in the Bemidji and surrounding area.
- Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, that also offers a searchable database.
As the cost of long-term care (LTC) continues to rise across the country, the need to plan ahead increases as well. In 2018, the average yearly cost of LTC throughout the United States was close to $90,000. In the State of Minnesota overall, the average annual cost of LTC runs considerably higher than the national average at a staggering $122,260 per year for LTC in 2018. The best way to combat the high cost of care is to incorporated long-term care planning strategies and tools into your comprehensive estate plan. The estate planning attorneys at German Law also recommend that you include Medicaid planning in your estate plan given the fact that neither your basic health insurance policy nor Medicare will help cover the high cost of LTC should you need it down the road. The Medicaid planning attorneys at German Law, however, can help you create a plan that will protect your assets, including your retirement nest egg, and ensure that you qualify for Medicaid if you need it in the future to help cover the high cost of LTC.
As long as they are able to do so, most seniors continue to enjoy socializing with their peers. Experts tell us, in fact, that getting out and spending time with friends and neighbors is vital to both the physical and mental health of seniors. Fortunately, there are several excellent places in Bemidji for seniors to meet and mingle. The Bemidji Senior Activity Center is always a good place to start your search for senior activities. For veterans, the VFW Post 1260 is always a good place to meet new friends and mingle with old ones.
State and Federal Assistance
Many state and federal resources and assistance programs are geared specifically at seniors. An excellent example is the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Adults and Aging Services. 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) disability website. To sign up for your Social Security retirement benefits, navigate to the sign up website of the SSA. . 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 help covering the high cost of long-term care at some point you might qualify for Minnesota Medicaid for the Aged and Disabled.
Many seniors, and loved ones, find the dizzying array of state and federal benefits to be confusing. Navigating the rules and procedures required to apply for those benefits can be equally confusing. At German Law we understand how frustrating it can be to run into one roadblock after another when trying to secure benefits to which you know you are entitled. Our attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping you in any way we can, whether you need help understanding the benefits available, applying for those benefits, or appealing a denial.
Getting Help from a Bemidji, Minnesota Elder Law Attorney
The elder law attorneys at German Law are dedicated to helping you create or update your estate plan to ensure that it covers your changing needs as a senior. If you have yet to incorporate Medicaid planning into your estate plan, now is the time to do so to ensure eligibility if you need it down the road. Along with long-term care planning, you may wish to consider executing an advance directive as part of a larger incapacity plan. An advance directive allows you to choose who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them at some point in the future. Finally, you should consider including funeral and burial planning to your comprehensive estate plan to ensure that your wishes will be honored at the end of your life.
If you have additional question or concerns regarding elder law issues, contact the experienced Bemidji, Minnesota elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.