About 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and that trend will continue until 2030. As more and more of us are nearing retirement, it’s not surprising that more and more of us will need some kind of long-term care.
In fact, 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need help with daily living activities or skilled nursing care, and 12 million Americans already do.
Whether you’re looking into long-term care for yourself one day or planning for an older relative, there are some important elements you should be aware of. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make the best decisions for your family.
What Is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care is a broad term that refers to the kinds of services an older person might need. Typically, long-term care plans include medical care, assistance with daily tasks, housing, and finances.
A long-term care plan can be as short or as detailed as you want, though it’s usually best to consider all options and scenarios. For example, if your mother is getting around fine now, you might not want to think about skilled nursing care. However, your mom’s condition can change overnight, so it’s better to be prepared.
What Should I Include in a Long-Term Care Plan?
The first thing you should do when developing a long-term care plan for a loved one is talk to them. Find out exactly what their wishes are, and what they want to avoid. Some older people are afraid of being “locked away” in a nursing home, so this is the time to discover how your loved one feels about the care options available.
It can be helpful to create a long-term care plan in sections or tiers that will address the different stages in the aging process. Your plan can start with minimum needs and progress all the way to full-time, skilled care.
The most common element of a long-term care plan is personal care. This kind of help is typically provided in the senior’s home, often by a friend or relative. Personal care might include help with bathing, dressing, and moving from a chair to the bed.
The goal of a well-planned home health care strategy is to help people stay in their homes and live as independently as possible. Your older relative may be in great health but simply have limited mobility due to arthritis.
If your loved one needs help with more than daily living activities, you can include skilled care in the plan. Paid caregivers and healthcare professionals can provide a greater level of care, including physical therapy, medical check-ups, and medication monitoring.
Assisted Living Facilities
If your mom or dad can no longer live in their home safely, you might consider moving them into an assisted living facility. This may be especially important for someone who is developing cognitive problems or is prone to falls.
The decision to move a loved one out of their home and into a facility is a very difficult one. The person’s health and safety should be the deciding factor. It will be important for you to check on them regularly to decide what type of assistance they need.
More than 1.3 million Americans are living in nursing homes right now. Most of them are there because they require a level of care that an assisted living facility can’t provide.
Nursing home residents typically need around-the-clock skilled nursing care. They may be in the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease or suffer from life-threatening cardiac conditions.
How Do I Pay for Long-Term Care?
You have a number of options when it comes to paying for long-term care. It’s important to understand what’s available to you or your loved one because long-term care is expensive.
For example, the average cost of an assisted living facility is $46,000 a year. The average annual rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $85,776
Your loved one may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which can help offset some of the costs associated with long-term care. However, there are limitations.
Medicaid provides health benefits for qualified low-income individuals. The program pays for medical care and some long-term care for people who have very limited resources. The monthly income limit for an individual in 2020 is just $1,084.
Medicare provides health benefits for people over 65, including hospital stays, doctor’s services, and medication. However, Medicare does not cover most home care, assisted living, or long-term care.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is a policy that covers services like home health care, assisted living and nursing home stays. Like traditional health insurance, you can customize your policy for the kind of care you want. You can buy nursing home coverage only, or you can buy a policy that covers both nursing care and assisted living.
The cost of long-term care insurance varies, depending on the services you want to include and how old you are when you buy it. The premium for someone who is 65 years old is 8 to 10 percent higher than for someone just a year younger.
Advance Care Planning
Advanced care planning should be part of the long-term care plan for you or your loved one. Advance planning allows you to think through many of the decisions that will need to be made eventually, and how you want those decisions handled.
You can write down what you want, in case your illness or injury prevents you from communicating. Many people formalize their wishes in a document called an “advanced directive”.
Your advance directive might state that you do not want to be put on a ventilator in certain circumstances. Or perhaps you choose not to receive intravenous nutrition.
Advance care planning is especially important in certain situations. For example, if your loved one is caring for a special needs child, they should write down exactly what provisions should be made for the child’s care.
Seek Professional Help
As you can tell, developing a long-term care plan can be complicated. There are a number of legal issues to consider. You may want to write a living will or a durable power of attorney.
We can help you with your long-term planning needs. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you might have.