When your mom or dad needs help as they get older and experience changes in their health, body, and mind, you want the best for them. Maybe you have not yet experienced that moment. Many American families must deal with long-term health care, and those numbers are growing. Too many families are unprepared for this moment in life.
Depending on the statistic you look at, about half of us will need some long-term care services during our lifetime. It makes sense. Medical advances are expanding lifespan. Yes, we live longer. However, that longevity will usually mean we will need some help with daily activities.
Help with routine living activities is just the start of the problems. There are a growing number of people nationwide, in fact, worldwide, who will suffer from cognitive decline. With some level of dementia, people require supervision.
Families Often Caught Off Guard
Then many families get caught off guard when they discover health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will not pay for much if any of this care. If a person has little or no assets, Medicaid will pay for long-term care in approved providers. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for these services, but you cannot purchase a policy if a person's health has already declined to the point they require care.
It is that moment when the family goes into crisis. One family member (usually a daughter or daughter-in-law) will be responsible for being a caregiver or finding quality professional caregivers and liquidating their parent's assets to pay for that care.
That is a big moment in time. It is emotional for everyone. Many families are in denial that day would ever happen. Yet, it does. Now the entire family must balance their emotions with the reality of being a caregiver or supervising care.
You want caring and compassionate people as caregivers who are well trained and maintain the safety protocols that the COVID-19 virus crisis demands.
Caregivers Require Training
It takes skills and training to provide the long-term care services and supports many of us will require at some point. Be it help with going to the bathroom, bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management, moving around the house safely, these are activities most of us take for granted.
Some of these activities are very personal. It often becomes embarrassing for a parent to have their adult child to support them in that way. Most research indicates that people would prefer their family to be loving, supporting, and just taking the time to spend time with them when they get to that point in their life.
Becoming a caregiver changes the relationship. A qualified and compassionate home care provider or quality assisted living facility can provide the services ensuring the person gets quality care - physically and emotionally.
A person's needs are both physical and emotional. When a person has a caring caregiver, in whatever setting, it eases the anxiety on both the care recipient and their family.
When a family is unprepared for long-term health care, it creates negative emotions putting a cloud of burden over the entire family. In some cases, family relationships change because of the extreme discomfort when children are transitioned into a "parental" role for their own parents. Sandwich generation caregivers are also under pressure to provide for their families in addition to aging family members. Quality caregivers and advance planning reduce the stress and burden on everyone.
Professional Long-Term Care is Costly
Quality long-term care services are not cheap. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows the national average cost of a nursing home over $100,000 a year. However, most long-term care is delivered outside nursing homes. Yet, in-home care, adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, and memory care facilities are also expensive.
Who may have heard "location - location - location" as being key to real estate costs. The same holds true with long-term care costs. In part, the costs of long-term health care services depend on where you live when you need the care.
For example, a nursing home's average cost is just about $105,000 a year if you live in Indiana. Depending on where in Indiana you live, that cost can vary. If you live in South Bend, the average cost is more; however, it is much less if you live in Terre Haute.
The cost of in-home care varies as well. Again, using Indiana as an example, the state average for home caregivers runs around $54,000 a year (based on a 44-hour week). However, in Fort Wayne, the same amount of in-home care will average over $57,000 a year, but in Bloomington, Indiana, that average cost is just under $45,000 a year.
Remember, there are a variety of professional and semi-skilled providers that offer services depending on the person’s needs. The average costs depend on the services required, although most of custodial in nature.
Now compare Indiana to Colorado. The average cost of a nursing home in Colorado runs around $115,000 a year. In-home care averages around $63,000 a year. Where you live in Colorado can vary those charges.
Families Concerned with Quality of Care
No matter what state you live in now ... or may move to in the future ... the costs are expensive and will get more costly over time. Unfortunately, cost does not always mean quality.
Finding a way to pay for future long-term care and finding quality caregivers and facilities in the future is essential to enjoying peace of mind.
If you, or a loved one, owns a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you have access to your choice of care in the setting you desire. Your family will have the time to be family instead of balancing their careers, families, and other responsibilities with that of being a caregiver.
How do you find quality caregivers? How do you access Long-Term Care Insurance benefits? If you, or your parent, does not own a policy, how do you find and pay for quality care?
Get Help with LTC Insurance Claims – Finding Quality Care
LTC NEWS has arranged to help you do both. LTC NEWS has teamed up with Amanda Senior Care, one of the nation's leading home health agencies. You can get free claims processing and care ordination without cost or obligation. You are free to use any care providers you wish. Click here to learn more.
You may already see your parent declining (or saw them decline in the past). What can be scary is you probably have noticed your own health and body change over the years. We are not the same as we were when we were 25 years old.
Preparing for the future costs and burdens of aging should be an important part of your retirement plan. For many families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance offers the benefits that will give you access to quality care in the setting you desire without placing the emotional burden and physical job of caregiving on your family.
LTC Insurance Policyholders Use Their Benefits
Long-Term Care Insurance policyholders use their benefits. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) notes that the top insurance companies paid over $11.6 Billion in benefits in 2020 alone. Much of those benefits helped people stay in their homes.
The largest claim, according to the AALTCI, was over $1.7 million in benefits.
Several Planning Options Available
There are several types of policies available and many insurance companies that offer benefits. The underwriting criteria differ between insurance companies, and the costs can vary over 100%! Working with a skilled, licensed, and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist is essential. Most financial advisors and general insurance agents are not qualified to help you since they lack experience and knowledge in this area.
You can compare the major companies that offer these products by clicking here.
Most experts agree that the best time to prepare is when you still enjoy relatively good health. Ideally, this is when you are in your 40s or 50s. No matter when you plan, start your plan before it is too late. Your health can change when you least expect it.
You probably don't want your family to face the tremendous emotional pressure and anxiety that occurs when you will need long-term care services in the future. Ease the emotions, protect the savings, and give your loved one’s time to be family.
About the Author
Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.
Contributor since December 11th, 2017
Families are not usually prepared for the role of being a caregiver, nor are they trained to be caregivers. You probably recognize that long-term health care services are costly and not covered by traditional health insurance, including Medicare and supplements.
Changes in your health, body, and mind will lead to a higher risk of needing help with daily living activities or even supervision due to memory loss.
Unfortunately, aging happens and will happen to you. You could remain in denial and make your family deal with it - or you can prepare your family and finances from the future costs and burdens of aging with affordable Long-Term Care Insurance.
LTC Insurance is Custom Designed and Affordable
The truth is most people find that an LTC policy is very affordable, but often insurance agents and financial advisors have little understanding of policy design, claims, or underwriting. The recommendations they make are too expensive, or they use a costly company or option.
Premiums can vary over 100% between companies, so using a specialist is key to saving money and having an affordable plan in place when you need it.
Research Tools on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers many tools and resources so you can learn about the types of care available, the costs of care today and in the future, insurance and other planning options, and more.
Start by reading The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you current and future costs for long-term health care, how to find care providers, state rules and tax incentives, and more.
Find all the resources by clicking here.
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Reverse Mortgages Might Be an Option
Today's reverse mortgages can provide you with tax-free funds to pay for an LTC Insurance policy, provide income, or even pay for care. If you are age 62 or older, learn more by clicking here.