There is no question that America is getting older. The consequences of longevity have a tremendous impact on families and their finances. People's savings get drained because of the high cost of long-term health care services. Family members find themselves thrust into the role of being a caregiver despite being untrained and unprepared for a very demanding job.
Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., writes on the Heritage Foundation website, "America is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic revolution. We are living longer, and our life expectancy is projected to increase in the 21st century."
American families are affected physically, emotionally, and financially when spouses or parents require long-term care services. The consequences of longevity and the advances in medical science mean more and more families will have the address the financial costs and burdens of aging.
If you think about how your health and body have changed in the past twenty years, you will understand why aging is a significant issue. Now consider how your health, body, and mind will change in the decades ahead.
Too many people think there are government solutions for long-term care. Your health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, pays for a small amount of skilled care. Most long-term care is custodial in nature, which means help with everyday activities of daily living or supervision due to cognitive decline. Only Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for custodial care - except for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay for this type of care, but you must have little or no income and assets to qualify.
The only other government program for long-term care is the partnership program. Most states have active partnership policies available which provide additional asset protection. With Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance, you can shelter assets with dollar-for-dollar asset protection. Plus, some federal and state tax incentives are available if you have a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance policy in place.
Families Not Prepared for Parent's Long-Term Care
Despite all the research that shows the likelihood of needing long-term care and the high costs associated with this care, few people plan before it's too late. Too often, they don't even think at all about the impact long-term care will have on their family, including adult children who, without advance planning, either become caregivers or managers of paid services - or both.
No plan for future long-term care is a big problem for you and your family.
Americans are Getting Older
Somewhere around 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports over half of those people over 65 will require long-term care services at some point.
But few people make preparations for this inevitable part of life that can drain a family both emotionally and financially.
Long-Term Care Leads to Family Crisis
When the need for long-term care approaches the crisis level, several family members may be pushed into participation, whether they are ready or not, said Chris Orestis, senior health care advocate and CEO of Life Care Funding.
“In many situations the need for care will creep up on a family.”
“Suddenly, people realize they have assumed duties that take up more and more of their time, and take a toll on their lives.”Chris Orestis, senior health-care advocate and CEO of Life Care Funding
Roles Family Members Take with No Advance Planning
Over the years, he said, he has seen these family members gravitate naturally to roles that fall into several stereotypes.
• Caretaker – This person provides care for the loved one at home and, without realizing it, becomes a full-time caregiver. Usually, this is a spouse or an adult child, most often a daughter.
• Bookkeeper – This person focuses on the financial aspects, determining what assets or insurance policies are available to help with care costs.
• Chauffeur – This family member drives the loved one to appointments, runs errands, makes grocery runs, and eventually may drive the aging loved one to tour assisted-living facilities.
• Guardian – This family member takes on such roles as the power of attorney or trustee, assuming the family's legal responsibilities.
• Denier – This person can't accept or admit that the loved one, or they themselves, need care.
• Know-It-All – Most annoying of all, this family member constantly questions decisions or lobs suggestions from the backbencher but isn't near the situation or involved hands-on.
No Advance Plan Leads to Family Resentment
With such a lineup, it's easy for resentments to build, Orestis said, but that needs to be avoided because the focus should be on the aging loved one and ease the transition if a decision is made to move into a nursing home or assisted-living facility.
Eventually, once it's clear that professional long-term care is needed and a plan is in place to make it happen, a conversation needs to occur with the loved one, who may be apprehensive or even resistant, Orestis said.
The conversation should be conducted with compassion and delicacy, he says. Emphasize that not only will this move improve their health and safety, but there will be numerous opportunities for social activities, games, art, entertainment, and great food.
“The key is for the family to come together.”
“Look for the signs that care is needed, formulate a plan, communicate effectively with your loved ones and change the perspective about long-term care from a negative to a safe, healthy and enriching experience in the continuing journey of life.”
You Can't Avoid the Risk of Long-Term Care
There is no way to avoid aging or the risk of needing long-term care in the future. However, you can take charge of your future retirement and help prevent the stress and burden that your aging and changes in health will have on those you love.
Don't be in denial of what happens as we get older. People require long-term care due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. You may enjoy a healthy lifestyle; however, you will live longer, placing you at a higher risk of frailty and cognitive decline.
Some people think if there is no family history of long-term care, it won't happen to them. There have been many advances in medical science that your older family members did not enjoy. The added longevity adds to the risk. Preparing is easy and affordable. Family history is something to consider, but a lack of family history will not mean you will never need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia at some point in your lifetime.
Be sure to research an affordable Long-Term Care policy before you retire. You will have access to your choice of quality care in your home or in a facility. Just as important, our family will have the time to be family.
It is true; long-term care does change everything about every aspect of your life. Proper preparation makes those changes easier for everyone.
There are several good options to consider when planning for the costs and burdens of aging. But while Long-Term Care Insurance is highly regulated, there are differences between policies, and premiums can vary over 100% for the same benefits. An experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will help you navigate the various options and match your age, health, and family history with the best coverage at the best value.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
The time to prepare for the costs and burdens of aging is when we are younger and still enjoy good health. Most people want to avoid a family crisis when they get older. Few would want to burden their adult children when better options are available.
For anyone with savings, a Long-Term Care Insurance policy can be an affordable solution. LTC Insurance is custom designed so you and a specialist can determine the appropriate amount of benefits based on your budget and your needs.
Most Long-Term Care Insurance claims are for in-home care, and most claims start at home. In 2021 the top insurance companies paid over $12.3 Billion in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits.
Keep in mind; however, you cannot buy a policy when you need it as these policies are medically underwritten. Don't assume you cannot qualify. Seek the help of a qualified specialist who works with the top companies to help match you with the best company. Underwriting criteria, and premiums, vary dramatically between insurance companies.
Most people obtain Long-Term Care Insurance coverage in their 50s.
Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities
If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.
Take a moment and read -
Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim
LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
You can also get support in finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
Planning Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS
You can find many tools and resources on LTC NEWS to assist you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis.
To help you plan for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
- The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
- Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
- A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Seek Professional Guidance
Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.
Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family.
A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
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