When Forbes Magazine noted this week that fewer seniors are relying on Medicaid for nursing home stays (Nursing Home Use by Medicaid Seniors is Plunging), it made many readers, myself included, want to ask why.

I have mixed feelings about the facts reported and assumptions made in this article.  The article attributes the decline in enrollment in Medicaid to a number of factors – fewer Medicaid facilities, increased use of assisted living facilities and other community based settings, and aging seniors choosing to live with family members.  On one hand, I don’t believe that everyone needs nursing home care, and I am glad that more families have chosen to care for their aging family members.

On the other hand, I wish that the decline in Medicaid applications was due to improved long-term care planning, including the use of long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits and Medicaid planning.  Good planning gives seniors better long-term care options and better quality of life, and it reduces the amount of stress suffered by the caregiving family members.  The family can spend more time enjoying each other’s company instead of worrying about when and where they will provide the needed care and how will they pay for it all.

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