The need for long-term disability is always a stressful situation, no matter the circumstances, but it is particularly difficult for the elderly who have limited resources.
Many people who are younger have larger support networks in place to help with these issues. There are spouses, friends, siblings, perhaps even parents still around able to help get through a difficult period. Also, younger people have a far greater likelihood of making a full recovery from long-term disability and thus recovering their earning ability and normal quality of life.
None of these things are true for the elderly. Many have already lost their spouse. Their parents are gone. If friends and siblings are still around, they are likely also in difficult financial and physical positions and do not have the ability to help out like they might once have. While the person may have children, children can be far less reliable on these issues than might be hoped. And then, long-term disability often proves permanent (at least to some extent) for those over a certain age. Bones become more brittle, joints misbehave, muscles are not as strong as in previous years: a serious injury can make it hard to ever completely heal back up to a previously accustomed level.
For all these reasons, it is important for the elderly who find themselves struggling with a long-term disability to know what is ahead of them. First, money is almost certainly going to be tight. Social Security and Medicare are notoriously stingy when paying for long-term issues. The paperwork is complicated and the likelihood of approval is either low or impossible. The resources to pay for the medical attention needed and to cover other new expenses (like the help of a part-time nurse) will all come out of pocket.
Unfortunately, many of the elderly lack such deep pockets. Retirement is expensive even without serious injury, and few have had the good fortune to save up as much as they may have planned to earlier. With expenses growing in many of the key areas of life (particularly in housing and education) resources may have been eaten up to cover those needs either for that individual or for others in the family.
With so many confronted by this situation, it is good there is at least one piece of hopeful news. If the elderly person has life insurance, it is possible that money can be taken out now to cover long-term expenses. While not all policies allow for this, many do cover an early withdrawal from the account with no penalty. That includes no taxes.
It’s always best to cover such issues with a long-term disability lawyer, and ideally, any who could potentially end up in this situation should do so now so as to be prepared should such problems arise in the future.