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Long-Term Care Planning and Timing a Move into Assisted Living

Long-Term Care Planning and Timing a Move into Assisted Living
Learn how early long-term care planning can help guide a smoother transition to assisted living.

A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study titled “The Natural History of Disability and Caregiving Before and After Long-Term Care Entry” examined the health and caregiving needs of assisted-living residents. Study results highlighted the median move-in age, the average level of care needed and likely long-term needs. This article expands on the research results to highlight how your assisted-living move-in impacts elder law in your estate planning and the strategies to consider. Beck, Lenox and Stolzer Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC uses these important statistics to advise our clientele on long-term care planning and timing a move into Assisted Living.

How Does Timing Your Move to Assisted Living Influence Long-Term Care Planning?

The study indicates that the mean age for moving into assisted living is 85, and they are less likely to be severely disabled compared to those entering nursing homes. The research identified a critical period of one to two years during which the care needs of assisted living residents could escalate to levels seen in nursing home settings. This progression underscores the importance of upfront discussions and planning regarding long-term care strategies.

Despite relatively good initial health, over half of the new residents had dementia, highlighting the need for comprehensive planning to protect financial and personal well-being in the event of cognitive decline.

Legal Strategies for Assisted Living Planning

As the average entry age into assisted living is around 85, it is crucial to prepare for possible increases in care needs, including issues related to dementia or cognitive decline. Legal and financial strategies to consider with your elder law attorney include:

  • Living Trust: Living trusts are a three-party agreement between the creator, trustee and beneficiary. With well-written terms and instructions, these trusts can protect your assets and funds.
  • Irrevocable Trust: Irrevocable trusts transfer asset ownership to the trust and can help lower your estate’s value by protecting certain assets.
  • Powers of Attorney (POA): Durable POAs give legal authority to a trusted person to oversee financial and healthcare matters when you are incapacitated.
  • Advance Care Directives: These directives specify your preferences for medical care, including decisions about treatments and care facilities. Beck, Lenox & Stolzer incorporates these directives into your POAs.

Elder law attorneys are vital in navigating the legal complexities associated with transitions to assisted living. Critical documents like living wills and powers of attorney can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.


Deciding to move into an assisted living facility is a significant life choice that impacts quality of life and health care in later years. Consulting with elder law professionals helps families devise flexible plans that accommodate changing care needs, ensuring that legal and financial protections are in place for residents as they transition into and within senior living communities. For those seniors who are resisting any move out of their home, our Beck, Lenox and Stolzer attorneys can provide resources that make that decision a little easier on them and their children.

Key Takeaways:

  • Optimal Timing for Assisted Living: The average age for moving into assisted living is 85, with prior home care averaging 18 hours per week.
  • Evolving Care Needs: Health and independence levels can approach those of nursing home residents within one to two years, indicating possible changes in care needs.
  • Personalized Decision Making: The decision to move into assisted living varies greatly and should be based on individual health, care requirements and personal preferences.
  • Role of Early Long-Term Care Planning: Elder law attorneys are crucial for helping seniors with early long-term care planning that protects individual rights and assets before a move to assisted living is necessary.

For more information on elder law or to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your concerns, click here.

Reference: JAMA Internal Medicine (Nov 6, 2023) “The Natural History of Disability and Caregiving Before and After Long-Term Care Entry

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