Do You Have a Plan for Long-Term Care?

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  • You don’t need to become a physical or financial burden on your spouse or children
  • You can avoid the physical and financial toll for you or family members by being forced into the role of a caregiver
  • You can avoid the sudden disruption and resentments this will cause throughout your family
  • You can stop the drain of income and assets that supports your family today and in the future

How to know when it is time for care

For many family members, they are acting as caregivers without realizing it. Either it can seem like a normal part of aging, or people are just not willing to admit that their ability to live independently is no longer possible, or safe. However, there are warning signs you should be looking for that will help you recognize when the time for professional long-term care has arrived:

  1. Physical Deterioration: Look for signs such as significant weight loss, balance issues and falling, loss of strength and stamina, and other losses of “Activities of Daily Living” (ADL) such as ability to shower or toilet, dress, or eat independently.
  2. Mental Deterioration: Do not blow off loss of memory or confusing names, dates and locations as just a “senior moment”. Cognitive deterioration is an important warning sign that you should be on the lookout for dementia and Alzheimer’s. These conditions can worsen quickly and can lead to many physical breakdowns and safety issues.
  3. Lifestyle Deterioration: Is the home not being kept as neatly as in the past? Are things oddly out of place (a house plant in the fridge or pots and pans in the bathtub), or do you see signs of physical damage (the car crashed into a fence or the wall of the garage, burn marks on the kitchen wall from a flash fire)? Long-term care is both a matter of healthcare and safety.

How to pay for care

For the few people who prepared through savings, still have assets, or purchased long-term care insurance, the monthly costs could be manageable. But for those who failed to plan there is still hope with options that can be used to cover costs of care today. The three primary ways to pay for care are Medicare, Medicaid, or Private Pay through insurance, savings or assets.

  1. Medicare is an “age based” program and will cover the first 100 days of rehabilitation care in a licensed skilled nursing facility upon direct discharge from a hospital.
  2. Medicaid is a “means based” program, which means to qualify an applicant must meet both standards of medical necessity and be below asset and income levels, which in essence requires that the individual is below the poverty line. Applying for Medicaid can be a challenging process that requires the applicant to submit detailed medical and financial records. Medicaid is the primary payor for nursing home care.
  3. Private Pay primarily comes from an individual and/or a family’s savings, assets, and income. It can also come in the form of long-term care insurance or the secondary market exchange of an existing life insurance policy for a Long-Term Care Benefit Account. People that are private pay can choose any form and location of care that they want such as home care and assisted living.

Buyer Beware

It is becoming more competitive to access the best long-term care providers, as 10,000 Baby Boomers are now turning 65 every day. Statistics show that 70% or more of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care services. People with the ability to afford private pay care are typically given preferential access to the best care providers and locations. In contrast, those on Medicare and Medicaid are given little choice as to where they can go, and for the most part will have to share a room with another person in a nursing home.

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