Planning for retirement is like embarking on a grand adventure, and just as explorers equip themselves with the right tools, a comprehensive retirement plan must also equip you to navigate the twists and turns of long-term health care, ensuring your financial stability, family harmony, and access to the highest quality of care along the way.
The most important aspect of planning is the quality of your future care and the lifestyle it helps you achieve. Your quality of life also benefits your family as they deal with the emotions of having a parent decline and need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia.
Aging happens, and the chances of needing long-term care increase as we age. Long-term health care can be expensive, and it can be difficult to afford without planning ahead. Long-Term Care Insurance will help you pay for long-term care services, so you and your loved ones can focus on getting the care you need.
Quality Can Be Costly
Quality care is expensive, and guess what? The cost of long-term care services is increasing dramatically. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and expected future cost of care where you live.
According to surveys, it is evident that the majority of individuals prefer to age in the comfort of their own homes when they require long-term health care, a preference that should come as no surprise to you.
However, ensuring a positive and fulfilling care experience at home heavily relies on the presence of quality caregivers. Home health agencies, witnessing the firsthand benefits of providing care for those with Long-Term Care Insurance, enable care recipients to access exceptional in-home care services.
Quality Care Improves Quality of Life
Joe Hilliard, the owner of three Amada Senior Care franchise locations Tulsa, Broken Arrow (www.AmadaBrokenArrow.com), and Oklahoma City, emphasizes the satisfaction of families whose loved ones receive quality care without depleting their financial resources.
The primary advantages of having a Long-Term Care Insurance policy include the invaluable support of a professional caregiver, which helps alleviate the stress of family caregiving for senior loved ones, and the preservation of independence. Due to the impact of age-related limitations, seniors or senior couples may find themselves unable to engage in activities they once enjoyed without assistance. Without the financial benefits provided by LTC insurance, they may be forced to make sacrifices that disrupt their desired way of life, such as forgoing vacations, weekly date nights, social events, or other costly activities, in order to afford necessary in-home care expenses.
Types of LTC Insurance
There are a few different types of Long-Term Care Insurance policies available.
Most plans are comprehensive and offer inflation protection, meaning your benefits will increase over time to keep pace with the rising cost of care. Given the likelihood of needing care in the future as your health, body, and mind decline, access to quality care options and asset protection will improve your quality of life and reduce the burdens placed on adult children and their families.
Some People with LTC Insurance Delay Using Benefits
You would think if you have a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you would want to use the benefits when you need care. However, this is not always the case. Hilliard says they need to explain the benefits of a policy to the spouse or family and encourage them to use the benefits to pay for quality professional care.
One couple we encountered had an LTC policy, but the husband's advanced dementia required care beyond what his wife could handle. She felt overwhelmed, believing it was her responsibility to care for him alone. We helped her realize that the policy was meant to protect her physically, emotionally, and financially.
Hilliard said they explained that not utilizing the Long-Term Care Insurance policy would have detrimental consequences for both their health and their assets. He says that assisting seniors with an LTC policy in understanding the importance of their investment is a meaningful aspect of their role as a home care provider.
The discussion surrounding Long-Term Care Insurance often includes adult children who may believe they are the best caregivers for their parents. However, family caregivers are typically untrained and ill-equipped to provide proper care, as they also have their own jobs and families to attend to.
Hilliard recounted the story of an older father who put an end to the debate by articulating the precise reasons why he and his wife invested in a Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
Look, kids, your mom and I invested in Long-Term Care insurance over 20 years ago, knowing that the day would most likely come that we would need help. Your mom and I loved your grandparents. We loved being there for them when they needed help. But there were a lot of problems we encountered with that, too. We missed time with each other. We missed time with you guys. We were tired and short with each other. Please don't ever think for a second that we regret getting to be there with and for Grandma and Grandpa, but it could have been so much better for all of us if we had been able to have some assistance for them.
The necessity of long-term health care is often a topic we prefer to avoid. However, with increased life expectancy and advancements in medical care, the likelihood of experiencing a gradual decline due to chronic illness, mobility issues, dementia, or frailty becomes more apparent.
How Will You Address Your Future Need for Care?
Are you prepared for the financial and family implications of aging? A well-rounded retirement plan should encompass a strategy for long-term health care, and an increasing number of individuals are opting to incorporate an affordable LTC Insurance policy into their retirement plans.
When choosing a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, it is important to compare different insurance companies and choose one that fits your needs and budget. LTC Insurance is regulated by the state and federal government, but underwriting rules and pricing vary dramatically between companies.
An experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will have the knowledge to compare and navigate these differences, something a general insurance agent or financial advisor usually is unable to do correctly. Specialists will provide accurate quotes and professional recommendations and explain policy features and benefits.
You should also consider the following factors:
- The cost of the policy: Long-Term Care Insurance can be expensive depending on the company, your age, and your health. Be sure you can afford the premiums and work with a specialist to review all the top companies.
- The benefits of the policy: Make sure the policy covers the type of care you most likely need. Most plans, especially those that meet federal guidelines, are comprehensive and cover all types of care, but be sure to ask.
- The terms of the policy: In most situations, you want a policy that meets federal guidelines under Section 7702(b). Policies that meet these guidelines have many consumer protections, including regulated benefit triggers, guaranteed renewability, and tax benefits, to name a few.
Is LTC Insurance for You?
Long-Term Care Insurance is a valuable asset as you age, but not everyone is eligible, and not everyone needs a policy. Individuals with limited income and assets may qualify for Medicaid. Pre-existing health conditions may make obtaining coverage difficult, but every company has its own guidelines. An LTC Insurance specialist will ask detailed health questions to help make accurate recommendations.
By planning ahead and choosing the right policy, you can ensure access to quality long-term care services when needed.
Additional Tips for Planning
- Start planning early: The earlier you start planning, the more affordable the premiums will be. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s.
- Get quotes from multiple companies: Compare quotes from different companies to find the best option. Most specialists work with multiple top companies making this easier.
- Be honest with health and financial questions: Make sure you answer the questions honestly that a specialist may ask you about your health and finances.
- Review the policy when you get it: Be sure the agent reviews the policy with you once you get it.
If you have older parents, depending on their age and health, they may have options available, but the premiums may be higher. You cannot purchase a policy once you need care.
Preparing for the challenges of aging may be difficult to envision, but proactive planning prior to retirement can significantly alleviate the burden on your family and finances. Securing your access to quality care is essential, and safeguarding your loved ones from the financial strain imposed by the high costs of long-term health care is equally crucial.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Long-term health care includes a variety of services, such as help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and eating; assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), such as cooking, cleaning, and taking medications; and long-term nursing care.
Long-term care services are often provided at your home but can include adult day care, assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes.
Quality LTC can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Improved physical health: Quality long-term health care can help to improve physical health by providing assistance with ADLs and IADLs. This can help to prevent injuries and infections, and it can also help to maintain mobility and independence.
- Improved mental health: Quality long-term health care can also help to improve mental health by providing social interaction and emotional support. This can help to reduce loneliness and depression, and it can also help to maintain a sense of purpose and identity.
- Improved quality of life: Quality long-term health care can help to improve overall quality of life by providing a safe and supportive environment. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also help to promote comfort and happiness.
However, it is important to note that not all long-term health care is created equal. Several factors can affect the quality of long-term care services, such as the staff-to-resident ratio, the level of staff training, and the facility's overall environment.
Cost is always a factor; generally, the better the care, the more costly the care will be. Long-Term Care Insurance will provide tax-free funds to pay for your choice of quality care in your desired setting.
Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS to Help You Plan
Hopefully, you have noticed the many tools and resources available on LTC NEWS to help you learn more about the issues surrounding aging, caregiving, health, long-term care, lifestyle, and retirement planning.
Here are a few of those resources:
- The Ultimate Long-Term Care Insurance Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance
- How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?
Get Your Parents Quality Care
If a loved one needs in-home care, whether they have LTC Insurance or not, Amada may be your choice for quality care options.
LTC NEWS has these comprehensive guides to help you in your process:
- Finding Quality In-Home Care
- Adult Day Care Centers (ADCCs)
- Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities
- Finding a Quality Nursing Home
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