Long Term Care Options

Making Sense of Long-Term Care: Know Your Options to Plan for Your Needs

 

We spend much of our adult years planning for retirement, but as that time approaches, our financial goals start to shift and other needs come into focus. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure whether you will need long-term care or for how long, but there are some risk factors that can help predict the likelihood. Whether you’re approaching retirement or already retired, now is the time to think about those risk factors and start planning ahead.

 

What are Your Risk Factors?

 

Over half of Americans turning 65 today will develop a disability serious enough to require long-term care. According to HuffPost, the two most common reasons people need some form of long-term care are dementia and disability. You may not be able to predict these things, but you can ask yourself a few questions that affect your likelihood of needing long-term care.

 

 

  • Are there hereditary illnesses and conditions that could impact you? Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke all have genetic components, so if you have a family history of any of these debilitating illnesses, your risk of needing long-term care may be higher.

 

  • What lifestyle choices are you making now? You can’t change your genetics, but lifestyle factors play a huge role in your risk of having problems later. For example, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking are just a few of the lifestyle factors that lead to a higher risk of stroke.

 

  • What other factors raise your risk? A few other factors that are out of your control may also raise your risk. Women are more likely than men, and single people are more likely than married people to need long-term care.

 

  • How close are you to retirement? The earlier you start saving for long-term care costs, the better. If you plan to get a long-term care insurance policy, AARP recommends shopping in your 50s or 60s. As you get older, premiums will be higher, and worse health could prevent you from getting the best coverage.

 

What Can You Do Now?

 

It’s never too late to change unhealthy lifestyle choices. Quitting smoking, exercising, eating a balanced diet, and managing stress can all lower your risk for stroke and other chronic illnesses. You can also reduce the risk of injury by doing a thorough safety check of your home and making any modifications that make mobility easier and safer.

 

What are Your Options When Preparing for Long-Term Care?

 

Most people use a combination of personal funds, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and personal financing options like long-term care insurance to pay for their care. There are also some commonly overlooked funds, such as VA benefits, so be sure to explore all options that are available to you. While government programs can help, most long-term care costs typically come from your private savings or insurance.

 

If you have the means and want to avoid paying for an insurance policy you may never need, one option is to put a substantial sum into savings. This isn’t an option for everyone, and it can be tricky to estimate the amount you should be saving. Another option is to purchase long-term care insurance; you can choose from traditional long-term care policies as well as life insurance/traditional long-term care combination policies.

 

Even with savings and insurance, it’s important to know your options if you end up needing help paying for long-term care. You may want to consider a life settlement as one option. Choosing a life settlement allows you to sell a life insurance policy you already have for a greater value than you would get surrendering the policy. Selling a life insurance policy can help pay for daily living expenses and medical care if you find yourself needing help paying for long-term care. Just be sure to do thorough research before making any decisions to avoid unwanted surprises.

 

Thinking about long-term care costs is often unsettling. When you’re ready to enjoy retirement, preparing for long-term care is probably the last thing you want to do. Just keep in mind that the peace of mind you will get from planning ahead will be worth it.

 

Author

 

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

 

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

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What If Mom Outlives Her Income?

“I am worried that mom may outlive her income. What will happen then?” Asked Claire

 

This is a common worry for many adult children. With the cost of living continuing to rise and the needs of an elder loved one increasing also, you are right to be concerned. After all, you need to be a good money manager.

Worried about college bound children

“Our goal was to keep Mom out of a Medicaid nursing home bed. Having worked in the industry I knew that once money runs out and you need to go on Medicaid your choices are very limited. Mom had dementia. The truth is there are not a lot of facilities who accept Medicaid and are trained in caring for someone with dementia here in Texas.” ~Emily

 

Emily is right. The truth is if you are looking for a secured facility for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of Dementia you will probably have a hard time in Houston Texas. They’re just are not a lot of them that accept Medicaid.

Old woman with her son

Perhaps your mom doesn’t need a secured unit because she can no longer walk. You could still run into the problem that Lori ran into. The nursing home where her mom was insisted that Lori come every day from 4 in the afternoon till 10 at night to take care of her mom.

Her Mom suffered from sundowning. This is common in people with dementia. It causes behavior changes. Someone who has this will often become very agitated. This is what happened to Lories Mom. She would scream, “Help, help, help!”, over and over again.  If Lorie refused to come the nursing home threatened to throw her mother out. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Most nursing homes are short staffed and someone with dementia may need a lot more attention and care than is available.

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Sometimes planning ahead can make a big difference. Sitting down with an elder law attorney just makes sense if you’re concerned. Most attorneys offer complimentary workshops or consultations. See our workshop schedule here.

 

Also, an elder law attorney is very connected in the community.  They are connected to financial advisors, hospice and home care companies, elder care advisors and even nonprofits that may be able to help you. They will know about many different resources that you can use to help stretch your dollars.

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Often what we see is that the children wanted mom to have the very best. So they put her in the most expensive and luxurious place they could find. Chances are they felt guilty placing her at all. And they wanted her to have the best. They may have thought that mom had just a couple of years left. But then they began to realize that Mom just might live quite a while longer. As the money began to drain out of her accounts, they began to get worried.

 

Sitting down with an elder law attorney in the early stages is the best option. This way plans can be made. And if there is little money and you know that eventually, mom will probably end up in a Medicaid facility you can plan for that. You can also find ways to stretch those dollars to buy more time.

 

When Robert and Carol brought their MIL to Houston after a broken hip they had choices to make. They could place her in a large assisted living facility with care 24/7 or they could place her in an Independent Living Community with a minimal amount of additional home care.

Since they lived close by they could visit often and help out. Carol could do her laundry each week and Robert could make sure she got to her doctor’s appointments. The community supplied all meals, entertainment and activities and some light housekeeping services.

Aging parent- reason to hire elder law attorney

For a few additional $$ they had the home care company help her get up in the morning. They helped her dress and made sure she took her medication. A caregiver would also come at night and help her change into her PJ’s. More services could be added as needed. And about a year later more services needed to be added. After 2 years, the time had come to move her to an assisted living facility. She needed someone to be available around the clock. But they saved about $50,000 placing her in the independent living community for those first two years.

 

Knowing what is available and where to go can make a huge difference. Planning ahead if a Medicaid bed is in your future can make sure that you are able to find one when the need comes. If you wait until the money is all gone you may be in for a shock. With proper planning, you will have time to visit and choose the best facility for your loved one. You will need to move in before the money runs out with the understanding that you will be given a Medicaid bed when you need it. Your attorney can help you work with the facility you choose.

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The truth is nobody knows how long someone will live. And even though it seems like Mom has a lot of money it is important to be prudent and spend those dollars wisely.