Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. writes in 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 impacted physically, emotionally and financially when a spouse or parent requires long-term care services. with longevity and the advances in medical science more and more families will have the address the financial costs and burdens of aging.
Too many people think there are government solutions for long-term care. Your health insurance, including Medicareand supplements, pay for a small amount of skilled care. Most long-term care is custodial in nature …meaning health 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 must you must have little or no assets.
The only other government program for long-term care is the partnership program. Forty-four states have active partnership policies available which provide additional asset protection. There are some federal and state tax incentives available if you have a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance policy in place.
American Families Generally Not Prepared for Parent's Long-Term Care
Yet many families have not prepared for the impact longevity will have on savings and lifestyle. Often, they don't even think 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.
This is a big problem.
Americans are Getting Older
Somewhere around 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 70 percent of those 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 thrust into participation whether ready or not, said Chris Orestis, senior health-care advocate and CEO of Life Care Funding (www.lifecarefunding.com).
“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, trying to determine what assets or insurance policies are available to help with the costs of care.
• 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 power of attorney or trustee, assuming the legal responsibilities within the family.
• 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 professional long-term care is needed and a plan is in place to make it happen, a conversation needs to take place with the loved one, who may be apprehensive or even resistant, Orestis said.
The conversation should be handled 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.”