What to Expect When Older Parents Need Long-Term Health Care - Can You Be Better Prepared?

By 2050, the census bureau says there could be over one million people in the United States over 100 years old. Longevity is a reality, and when your loved ones need care, what do you do? Are you prepared for your future aging?

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What to Expect When Older Parents Need Long-Term Health Care - Can You Be Better Prepared?
7 Min Read July 19th, 2022

In a very real sense, much of the world, including the United States, has entered a new phase of social development. The rapidly increasing older population has created complex problems for families, government, and individual legacies.

People age differently, and some hazards come with old age. Medical advances, scientific discoveries, and inventions in the last hundred years have altered our lifestyles and created societal problems that we have not yet adapted to.

We don't die as quickly as we did decades ago. We become dependent on others, and we linger longer. Most families have not planned for the consequences of declining health and aging, so when a loved one needs long-term health care, the family usually must step in, at least initially. 

Sandwich Generation Has Challenges

Family caregivers are typically untrained and unprepared for a very demanding role - physically and emotionally. Usually, a daughter or daughter-in-law must balance several responsibilities with being a caregiver. This so-called 'sandwich generation' juggles jobs, children and spouses, and caregiving simultaneously. To say the least, this is not easy on anyone.

As we get older, we face growing physical disabilities. Many of us will need help with everyday living activities like bathing, dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom. Routine hygiene becomes more difficult. Plus, you have the risk of a memory decline. Dementia is a growing problem worldwide. 

Humans face deterioration in our health, bodies, and mind. Being prepared ahead of time makes sense to protect savings and reduce the stress and anxiety that is otherwise placed on loved ones. 

Parent Needs Help - Now What?

For many people, Long-Term Care Insurance is an affordable way to address the costs and burdens of aging. What happens if a loved one needs care and they don't have LTC Insurance? Professional caregivers are available on a full-time basis or a part-time basis to provide some respite for family members who are providing care.

Virtually every research study has shown that most people want to age. Indeed, it is safe to say nobody wants to go into a nursing home. There are situations where a nursing home is required and will provide the best environment to take care of a family member. However, most people can safely be taken care of in their own homes. Assisted living facilities and adult day care centers are available, but most people start with in-home care. 

How do you find quality care? LTC NEWS does offer several guides, which are a good first step when you have a family member who needs long-term health care:

If your loved one has an LTC Insurance policy, do not delay starting the claim process. There is no good reason to delay using a policy. Contact the insurance company or the agent if available. Some LTC Insurance policies offer case management services to help the family develop a care plan and even help find quality care providers.

LTC NEWS offers free, no cost and no obligation help with the Long-Term Care Insurance claim process and finding quality care services. Learn more here -  Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.

Finding In-Home Caregivers Starts with an Assessment

Whether your loved one has insurance or not, an assessment will be made to determine their needs. Jeff Pell, who owns Amada Senior Care's Knoxville, TN franchise, says that some home health agencies, like Amada Senior Care, will provide initial evaluations.

Every assessment starts with a phone call to answer initial questions about who needs in-home care, what help is needed with ADLs (activities of daily living), and the cost of having a caregiver.

Jeff Pell  

The phone call leads to an in-home assessment. This home visit helps finalize the creation of the individual plan of care for the care recipient. The nurse assessor also assesses the home environment. 

This home visit also consists of asking the care recipient and their family many questions about what kind of help they think they need and about the cost of care services. Pell says that families usually have many questions, including how the home health agency vets their professional caregivers.

Jeff Pell – Amada Senior Care in Knoxville, TN

Jeff Pell – Amada Senior Care in Knoxville, TN

The home visit also gives us a chance to evaluate their living situation. If we see a very narrow bathroom that is difficult to access for the senior who is using a walker or wheelchair, we might say 'Hey, have you thought about getting a high portable commode that you can keep by bed?'

Jeff Pell 

Home Environment Must Be Considered

Many home risks need to be addressed, like lighting, positioning of furniture, and throw rugs, which can be a trip hazard.

Rugs are a big trip hazard because someone can catch their foot on the corner of it. Sometimes, they trip over a pet. With one client who had a very large dog named Sam that was getting under her feet, we asked, 'Is it okay if our caregiver gets Sam up and away from your path when you're going from the living room to the bathroom?

Jeff Pell 

Beds can be a problem area as well. Sometimes a bed might be too high for the care recipient to safely access. Pell says that there will be a discussion about getting a hospital bed.

"A high bed can make it more difficult for a caregiver to transfer the client," Pell explained. 

 For those with Long-Term Care Insurance, Pell reaches out to the Long-Term Care Insurance agent to ask questions about their policy and benefits.

The senior may have been paying on a policy for many years, but they don't understand it. After I hang up the phone with their agent, I turn around and explain all the policy terms. What is the daily, weekly, or monthly benefit? What is the lifetime benefit? Is there a waiver of premium?

Jeff Pell 

Often an insurance agent or financial advisor cannot be found, so they contact the insurance company to get the answers and start the claim process. 

Pell says that he lets the family know how the policy will pay for care at home, in assisted living, or even in a nursing home. 

"I give them all the information so that the client can make a good decision," Pell explained.

Care Plans Developed Based on Insurance or Self-Funding Ability

If the care recipient decides to receive in-home care, Pell explains how home caregiving services work with their Long-Term Care Insurance. If they do not have insurance, a discussion on how to pay for care will determine the care plan.

Most in-home care plans start with three or four days a week. Most home health agencies generally require three or four-hour shift minimums. 

 Pell says that a care coordinator will visit the care recipient on the first in-home caregiving shift to ensure the individual care plan is in place. The care coordinator will proceed with a check-in visit every quarter. 

 "This way we make sure that the care plan is always up-to-date since it does change over time," Pell said. 

For example, if the client has been diagnosed with cognitive dementia or Parkinson’s, we count on the care plan changing with each phase of these conditions.

Assisted Living or Memory Care May Be Recommended

Depending on the client's care needs and preferences, Pell might recommend that the person consider living in an assisted living or memory care residence.  

If I find the client is very social and wants to be part of a community and have that special interaction with peers, I'll let them know there are many assisted living communities with excellent programs. I reassure them by saying our caregiver will still be there for them. 

Sometimes families are looking for 24-hour care for their loved ones. In-home care on a 24/7 basis can often cost much more than assisted living or memory care.

We're very transparent, we let them know about the advantages of memory care or assisted living because we want to do the right thing for the client, especially when dementia or cognitive issues are far enough along.

Jeff Pell 

Aging Issues are Complex

While today's aging and long-term health care problems are not new, the issues and concerns are complex. The cost of professional long-term health care is skyrocketing due to increasing demand, higher labor costs, and other factors. Families often don't live close by. Daughters and daughters-in-law often have careers in addition to family responsibilities so being caregivers or managing professional care is tricky.

Financial insecurity adds to the problem since too many people have failed to prepare for the costs and burdens of long-term care. The physical and mental well-being of the care recipient and the family come into question due to the stress and burdens of the situation. It is a family crisis. 

Quality of Life Essential 

Most people, once they retire, want to live with dignity. Few people want to be dependent on others. In addition, most people didn't save money just to see it spent on long-term health care.  

Have you considered how you and your family would handle your need for care in the decades ahead? It might be easier to ignore the problem, it is not pleasant to think about. Ignoring the problem - or denying it is a problem - will not make the problem disappear.

The cost of long-term health care is no small burden for most families. Those people who own Long-Term Care Insurance have a solution with guarantees. The guaranteed tax-free resources will give you access to your choice of quality care options leaving you in control and giving your loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers. You also can safeguard your income and assets, protecting your lifestyle and legacy.

It is really about the quality of life and independence. Most of us want to remain at home. Quality in-home providers can help people who need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia stay in their homes - often with better quality of life than what would be provided by untrained family or friends or care in facilities. 

Today's assisted living facilities have changed the image of long-term care, giving residents the best of both worlds. Care recipients have the privacy of their own apartment in a facility with 24/7 support services as they need them. Plus, assisted living facilities offer social interaction to help keep older adults happy and active. 

Prepare for Future Long-Term Care Before Retirement

Being prepared for aging starts when you are younger. Long-term care planning is part of retirement planning. There are several types of Long-Term Care Insurance options. Experts suggest speaking with a qualified LTC Insurance specialist to help find the best coverage at the best value.

Most obtain their coverage in their 50s. Ease the future crisis and give the entire family peace of mind by planning sooner than later.

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About the Author

Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

Long-Term Care Insurance means access to quality care. It also means choice. You get to choose the type of care, including care in your home. LTC Insurance also means income and asset protection. Care costs are exploding nationwide - your guaranteed tax-free benefits will ease the financial stress.

The good news that more many people LTC Insurance can be very affordable -  How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost? | LTC News

Have Questions About Long-Term Care Planning?

You might have questions about long-term health care planning, and LTC NEWS provides the answers for many of the most asked questions here - Frequently Asked Questions | LTC News. Find all the resources available on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Find the cost of care where you live by using the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.

Get Professional Guidance 

Long-term care is very specialized, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies, as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

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.

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Loved Ones Need Help Now?

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Advantages 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. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

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, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, 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.

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