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Published: Nov 14th, 2019

Family Focus When Mom or Dad Starts Long-Term Care

When Mom or Dad Starts Long-Term Care

It happens every day. American families must start making decisions about their Mom or Dad. While it does happen at all ages, as a parent gets older, they become more likely to start needing help with those activities we take for granted. These are things like eating, bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, all the things we learned as a very young child that at some point due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging we need help with.

Spouse Can Hide the Problem

Often a spouse or the adult children are in denial. A spouse hides the problem from the rest of the family, at least at the beginning. They ignore, or just don’t want to believe the signs. Perhaps Mom or Dad has become forgetful. Maybe they have had a fall in the shower. No matter, too many families ignore the obvious for too long.

If the parent doesn’t own Long-Term Care Insurance decisions need to be made quickly. Generally, the spouse is older and not the best option to be a caregiver. Which sibling will take responsibility either as a caregiver or managing paid care? 

Families Wait Too Long to Arrange Care

“Most seniors wait far too long to get the help that they need. By the time most families start looking for help with caring for a parent, the situation has become urgent. We end up needing to start a high percentage of our cases on very short notice. We have gotten calls at noon for a case that requires 24-hour care and we have a caregiver in place by 2 pm,” said Ed Duborg, CEO and Owner of Amada Senior Care Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. 

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN, co-owner of Approved Senior Network, says that family emotions are all over the map at this time of crisis. 

“It is physically and emotionally overwhelming. Adult children are sad that this is going to be the "new normal" for their aging parent, but happy that they have help and {the parent} can remain safe in their own home a little longer,” she explained. 

Cost of Care is Expensive

The next big surprise is the cost of care. People expect nursing homes or assisted living to be expensive, but care at home is not cheap and without advance planning, the costs drain income and assets and adversely impact lifestyle and legacy.

LTC NEWS has a cost of care calculator which shows both the current and future cost of care services in your area. This is a great planning tool for planning care for a parent and researching your own plan for future care in the decades ahead. Click here to use the calculator.

VanBooven says most families are shocked by the costs. They thought their parent’s Medicareand Medicaresupplement will pay. However, most long-term care is not covered at all.

Duborg agrees, “There are also many family members that we deal with that have already done their research and understand that caring for a senior is expensive especially one-on-one care. Most people are more surprised that Medicareand private insurance plans don't cover any of the cost for non-medical home care.”

This non-medical care is referred to as “custodial care”. Most long-term care is custodial in nature – help with activities-of-daily living or supervision due to some type of memory loss.

Most good home health agencies will complete an assessment. They will visit the individual in their home, and they will provide a plan of care based on the individual and family needs and preferences.

Health Insurance and MedicareWill Not Pay for Most Long-Term Care

Health insurance, including Medicareand supplements, do not pay for this care at all. They will pay a limited amount of skilled services. After that, 100% out-of-pocket. This is where Long-Term Care Insurance comes in.

Most Long-Term Care Insurance policies are comprehensive. This means they cover all areas and types of care. According to claims statistics from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a national consumer education and advocacy group, most claims start at home.

Long-Term Care Insurance Changes Everything

When a person has a Long-Term Care policy Deborg says it changes everything for the individual and the family.

“It is such a relief to families when we do a free policy review and they realize that their parents have a great policy that provides them with the funding for the care that they need. I would also say that most policies are written so that the senior can get a high level of care,” Duborg said. 

He says that without the Long-Term Care Insurance policy, the parent is more likely to have the least amount of care possible. They get just enough care to get by – and they spend as little money as possible. 

When that happens, it can create additional burden on family members who supplement the paid care or worse.

“That lack of an appropriate level of care sometimes leads to incidents that require a hospital stay or rehabilitation. People with Long-Term Care Insurance are more likely to start care early when they need it and live a safer, better quality of life,” DuBorg explained.

Providers Help with LTC Insurance Claims Process

VanBooven says most home care agencies today are well-versed in helping with the Long-Term Care Insurance claims process. 

“Any home care agency that has been in business for a few years will have enough experience to file claims correctly for the family. And what a relief it is for all involved that these services are paid for,” VanBoover said.

Click here to find the contact numbers for the claim’s department at the major LTC Insurance companies.

Advance Planning is Essential

Both agree that advance planning is key. 

DuBorg suggests finding what options are available to plan for the cost of short-term and long- term care. 

“It beautiful to see when a family steps up and takes control of the care of a loved one. Unfortunately, most family members have such busy scheduled that they barely have the time to visit with mom and dad, never mind be there to care for them when they can no longer fully care for themselves,” he said.

VanBooven says to avoid crisis management.

“Have "the talk" with your aging parent. Start learning more about their financial situation so that you can help them determine the best course of action. If you wait too long- crisis happens - a fall, pneumonia, illness - and no one has time to do anything but make crisis-driven decisions,” she said.

She suggests decreasing stress by knowing the basics of your aging parents. This includes their finances, insurance policies, doctors, medications, and diagnoses. This way, when the times comes your family has the information needed to make the right decisions. 

Your parents may have limited planning options at this point in their lives. However, this is a good time for you to plan yourself or the financial costs and burdens of aging. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance gives you access to your choice of quality care in the setting you desire. You will protect your savings and reduce the stress otherwise placed on your family.

The best time to plan is when you are in your 40s or 50s. Seek the help of a qualified Long-Term Care specialist who can match your age, health, family history and other factors with the best insurance company.

Insurance premiums for Long-Term Care Insurance can vary widely, over 100% or more for the same benefits. These policies are also custom designed. A specialist will recommend a policy design that fits your needs but you make the final decisions.

LTC NEWS can provide many resources to help you plan. However, you have to understand that while planning might not be fun the impact of having a plan in place will give your family peace-of-mind. It also gives them time to be family.