Eldercare's Future is Today: A Multitude of Options for Long-Term Care at Home

Eldercare's future is already here, offering a wide range of options for long-term care within the comfort of home. This variety ensures that individuals can receive personalized care tailored to their specific needs while maintaining their independence and familiarity with their living environment.

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Eldercare's Future is Today: A Multitude of Options for Long-Term Care at Home
9 Min Read March 11th, 2024

President Biden's recent State of the Union address highlighted a critical and growing concern: eldercare. His vision of "a future with home care and elder care so seniors and people living with disabilities can stay in their homes" resonated with millions of Americans facing the realities of long-term care. The good news? That future is already here.

Growing Need for Long-Term Care Solutions

The U.S. population is aging rapidly. According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the number of adults aged 65 and older is projected to reach 80 million by 2040 – nearly double what it was in 2000. This demographic shift translates to a significant increase in the need for long-term care services.

Traditionally, nursing homes have been the go-to option for long-term care. However, preferences and availability for other long-term care options are changing. A 2020 AARP survey found that 90% of adults aged 65 and older want long-term care at home for as long as possible. This desire for independence and familiarity with surroundings fuels the demand for in-home care solutions.

Home care represents the majority of long-term care services in the United States. Sometimes, a more structured care setting, such as assisted living, memory care, or a nursing home, might be the best choice. However, many people choose to stay at home for their care needs, whether provided by family members, funded by Long-Term Care Insurance, or paid for out of pocket.

In-Home Care: A Spectrum of Services and Benefits

In-home care services encompass a wide range of services designed to support seniors and individuals with disabilities in their own homes. These services can be tailored to meet individual needs, ranging from basic assistance with daily living activities (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, and medication management to more specialized care, such as physical therapy or skilled nursing.

In-home care offers numerous benefits over traditional institutional care settings. Here are some key advantages:

  • Independence and Familiarity: In-home care allows individuals to remain in their own homes, surrounded by familiar surroundings and cherished memories.
  • Personalized Care: Care plans are customized to meet each care recipient's specific needs and preferences.
  • Flexibility: Services can be adjusted as needs change, ensuring ongoing support without unnecessary interventions.
  • Improved Quality of Life: In-home care can foster a sense of control and dignity, leading to a higher overall quality of life.
  • Social Connection: Caregivers can provide companionship and social interaction, combating feelings of isolation that can be common among seniors.

Role of Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers offer another valuable option for long-term care planning. These centers provide structured social and therapeutic activities during the day, allowing families some much-needed respite. In addition, adult day care can allow the care recipient to delay or avoid a full-time facility by getting services and attention during the day and going home in the evening when their needs may be less. 

Additionally, they can offer assistance with essential tasks like medication management and meals. Adult day care can be a particularly beneficial option for individuals with mild cognitive decline or who require supervision for safety reasons.

Financing Long-Term Care

The cost of long-term care can be a significant concern. Medicare and traditional health insurance policies are not a funding solution since they will only pay for short-term skilled care, including at-home recovery following surgery. 

Medicaid will pay for long-term care for those with little or no income and assets. 

Private Long-Term Care Insurance can also help offset the costs of long-term care services, including in-home care and adult day programs. Premiums vary widely depending on the insurance company, age, gender, health, marital status, and other factors. 

The LTC NEWS review of the top-rated Long-Term Care Insurance pricing shows the wide variety of pricing between insurance companies that offer these products. 

For example, a 50-year-old selecting a $3,000 monthly benefit, a $108,000 benefit account, and a 90-day elimination period, with benefits (not premiums) increasing at 3% compound inflation, could see premiums among the top five insurance companies ranging from $68.40 a month to as much as $225.20 for the same benefits.

Most experts suggest shopping with an LTC Insurance specialist who represents the top-rated companies to match you with the best coverage at the best value. 

Future of Eldercare: Technology's Role

Technological advancements offer a range of solutions that can enhance in-home care and empower seniors to maintain their independence. 

These include:

  • Wearable health monitors: These devices can track vital signs, detect falls, and send alerts to caregivers in case of emergencies.
  • Telehealth services: Video conferencing allows seniors to connect with doctors and specialists remotely, reducing the need for travel and increasing access to care.
  • Smart home technology: Smart thermostats, lighting systems, and appliances can be controlled remotely, providing increased safety and convenience for seniors living alone.

Speaking to financial advisors and general insurance agents in Birmingham, AL, Matt McCann, a well-known Long-Term Care Insurance specialist, says American families don't need to just imagine a future with home care and elder care so seniors and people who are living with disabilities can stay in their homes. It is a future that is available for many today and in the decades to come. 

But this is a future we don't have to just imagine—if we plan for it. Long-Term Care Insurance already provides for in-home care, not only covering nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Some policies even offer cash benefits, allowing family members to receive payment for their caregiving. This isn't a distant dream; it's a present reality.

McCann said that the reality of family caregivers being available to provide long-term care doesn't consider their lack of training and availability due to their careers, spouses, children, and other responsibilities. 

The truth is, most people prefer not to have their family members shoulder the burden of care; they'd rather see them simply as family. However, a lack of conversation around Long-Term Care Insurance and a general absence of urgency in securing coverage means that many families are caught unprepared, leading to a crisis where personal savings are drained until Medicaid becomes the only option—by which time, assets and income are nearly depleted.

McCann said we have the power today to prevent such family crises and to protect income and assets without burdening our loved ones or the taxpayers.

Navigating Caregiver Support: The Impact on Family Well-Being

Professional in-home caregivers offer much more than quality care for older adults; they alleviate the concerns and stresses experienced by adult children, according to Alie Johnson, CDP, who operates an Amada Senior Care franchise in the Chicago suburbs. 

Alie Johnson

Our in-home caregivers do more than just assist with daily activities; they play a crucial role in alleviating the constant worry that family members feel for their aging parents.

She draws a comparison to parenting.

It's like that part of your mind that's always concerned about your children, except now it's your parents you're worried about.

Johnson highlights the relief families experience when a professional caregiver is present.

Having someone reliable in the home means families can normalize their relationships again. It preserves the parent-child dynamic without the added stress.

She also points out the often-overlooked value of having trained caregivers regularly interacting with loved ones. 

Caregivers become an integral part of their clients' lives, noticing subtle changes that might indicate bigger issues. They're often the first to spot potential health concerns, like UTIs, or changes in mobility and mood.

The presence of a caregiver in the home, Johnson observes, significantly reduces the burden on families, who might otherwise feel guilty for not catching these signs earlier. 

We see families start to breathe easier and rebuild relationships, all thanks to the peace of mind our caregivers provide, ensuring their parents are in good hands.

Planning for the Future: Starting the Conversation About Long-Term Care

The conversation about planning for long-term care can be daunting, but it's crucial to have with loved ones, regardless of age. Here's how to approach this discussion in two key scenarios:

1. With Older Loved Ones Showing Signs of Decline:

  • Approach with Sensitivity:  Begin by expressing your concern for their well-being and safety. Focus on open-ended questions to understand their needs and preferences. "How are you feeling these days?" or "What kind of help would make things easier for you at home?" can be good starting points.
  • Listen Actively:  Pay close attention to their responses and concerns. Acknowledge their feelings of independence and desire to stay in their homes.
  • Start Small:  Discuss smaller tasks initially, like grocery shopping or transportation needs. This can pave the way for a broader conversation about future care options.
  • Be Prepared:  Research available resources in your area, such as in-home care services, adult day programs, or senior centers. Having information readily available can ease the conversation.
  • Understand Family Dynamics:  Talk openly about who will be involved in caregiving and explore shared responsibilities among family members if funds are limited.
  • Explore Options:  Research different long-term care settings, such as in-home care, assisted living, or nursing homes. Discuss your preferences and those of your partner to ensure alignment. Review how to pay for care. Is there LTC Insurance or money available?
  • Seek Professional Help:  If your loved one exhibits significant cognitive decline, consider involving a doctor or geriatric care manager to guide the discussion and explore appropriate care options.

2. With Those Planning for Retirement (40s & 50s):

  • Early Planning is Key: While retirement may seem far off, initiating this conversation in your 40s or 50s allows for proactive planning. Those in their 60s or older who still enjoy fairly good health still have time to consider long-term care planning.
  • Consider Long-Term Care Costs:  Discuss the potential financial burden of long-term care on your retirement income and savings and include Long-Term Care Insurance to mitigate costs and ease family burden.
  • Involve an LTC Insurance Specialist:  Work with a qualified LTC Insurance specialist who represents top-rated companies to assess your health and financial situation and explore Long-Term Care Insurance options that fit your budget.

By initiating these conversations early and with empathy, you can ensure a smoother transition to long-term care for yourself and your loved ones, promoting well-being and financial security for the future.

Planning Requires Professional Advice 

Many financial advisors and insurance agents seem overwhelmed or disinterested when discussing long-term care planning, which might explain why some overlook this critical issue. Additionally, some may not be aware of the dollar-for-dollar asset protection provided by the partnership program, in which most states participate.

Cassandra Watson, CLTC, is president of Platinum LTC Solutions and an LTC Insurance specialist. She notes that the complexities of LTC Insurance are made easy when a qualified specialist is involved. 

Often potential applicants underestimate the health underwriting portion, or they make assumptions on premiums. Finding a long-term care specialist puts consumers in the best possible position to be matched with the ideal company and plan for their specific goals.

Watson stated that Long-Term Care specialists are beneficial because they dedicate all their time and energy to this sector. From field underwriting to assessing financial suitability, LTC specialists possess the necessary knowledge and experience to recommend the appropriate policies for individuals.

Many consumers seek to avoid dependency on the government to determine the type and quality of their care. Mary Ann DeKing, CLTC, a nationally known LTC insurance specialist, says that many people she speaks with desire access to quality care without draining their income and assets. Control and independence are important.

Medicaid: A Crucial Safety Net

Medicaid remains a vital safety net for low-income individuals and families facing long-term care needs. It offers in-home care services, often through waivers or specific programs within each state, in addition to nursing home care. The Medicaid expansion allows eligible individuals to receive essential support in their own homes, promoting independence and dignity. However, Medicaid coverage for in-home care can vary significantly between states, and waitlists for services can be lengthy.

Recognizing these limitations, the government is exploring ways to expand long-term care options beyond traditional Medicaid programs. 

President Biden's focus on in-home care and eldercare reflects this shift. Initiatives promoting technological advancements for remote monitoring and telehealth consultations aim to enhance in-home care delivery. 

Additionally, efforts are underway to support and strengthen the home care workforce by improving wages and training programs. These combined efforts aim to create a more robust and accessible long-term care system for those with limited resources that provide quality care options across the spectrum, ensuring a safety net for those who require long-term care services.

Last April, President Biden spoke about how many individuals lie awake at night, worried about the care their parents will receive.

You know, too many folks lie awake at night wondering, "If mom can't take care of herself at home, what are we going to do? She'll have to move into a nursing home. Are we going to be able to afford it?

Reducing Stress Through Planning

The worries surrounding aging and the future costs and responsibilities of long-term care are genuine. But through planning, you go beyond merely imagining solutions; you can implement strategies that protect your income and assets, guarantee access to quality care, and alleviate the stress and strain otherwise placed on your loved ones.

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About the Author

Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

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LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you process a claim from any LTC Insurance policy. If your parents have an LTC policy, be sure they get the quality care they deserve. Plus, don't delay in using the benefits.

There is no cost or obligation for this service - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

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