The unexpected need for extra assistance is often a rude awakening for the elderly. As a result, an adult child or relative usually has to make a difficult decision regarding your long-term care needs. In addition to benefiting yourself, long-term care insurance spares your family from deciding what is best for you.
Knowing what long-term care services are available and what level of care you can expect will be imperative in the future. Now is the best time to start planning for your long-term care needs. Waiting until you are older could mean you won’t qualify for a long-term care insurance policy and must find other ways to pay for your cost of care. Getting started with long-term care planning starts with answering the most important questions.
What is long-term care?
Long-term care, also called custodial care, probably conjures up images of nursing homes when you hear the term. It is important to remember, however, that long-term care encompasses a variety of services that assist individuals in regaining independence. It may be an option if you cannot maintain your quality of life due to old age, illnesses, accidents, or severe cognitive impairments.
Choosing long-term care, you should have access to housing, social support, and medical treatment. The support you receive can range from simple assistance with activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, and eating, to more complex medical care, such as prescription administration.
What type of long-term care services are provided?
Long-term care can be delivered in various ways, and individuals can choose the one that best fits their preferences, health, finances, and other personal characteristics. The following are some typical type of care:
- Assisted-Living Facility: Seniors living in assisted living communities have access to round-the-clock medical care, as well as housekeeping, laundry, and medication reminders.
- Nursing Home Care / Skilled Nursing Care: Nursing homes or skilled care may be suitable for older adults with extensive medical needs and substantial assistance with daily activities.
- Home Care Services: In many cases, a nursing assistant can help your loved one or yourself stay at home by regularly taking care of medication management and physical therapy.
- Personal Care Services at Home: When you receive non-medical home care, you may be able to maintain your existing living arrangements. In addition to ADLs, personal hygiene, food preparation, and other tasks, a trained caregiver can provide consistent support daily, weekly, or less frequently. A trusting caregiver can care for the older person’s needs in their home.
- Adult Day Care: An adult day care center can help seniors who are socially isolated, lonely, or need assistance with basic daily tasks. While providing round-the-clock care, the facilities provide a safe environment for seniors to mingle. Individuals with a strong need for social connection or who can’t plan their own days may benefit greatly from these services.
How soon should you start thinking about long-term care?
A person’s long-term care needs may arise abruptly. Still, they typically increase slowly over time as they age and become frailer or as the effects of a disability or chronic disease progress. In general, people who are in their 80s tend to file long-term care insurance claims.
Since rates are at their lowest between 45 and 65, this is the best time to buy. In the long run, buying while you’re young will save you money, but you will pay more in premiums. A decline in your health condition or an illness may increase your premiums or result in your coverage revoking.
Factors linked to long-term care need: who is at risk?
No one can predict a person’s long-term care needs in advance; however, several factors can increase long-term care needs.
- Age: Older people are generally at greater risk.
- Gender: As a result of living longer, women have a greater chance of developing dementia than men do.
- Marital status: The likelihood of single people needing paid care is higher than married people.
- Lifestyle: An individual’s risk of diabetes can be increased by poor diet and exercise habits.
- The family’s health history: Risk is also affected by these factors.
What considerations should you make?
When preparing for the possibility of long-term care, the National Institute on Aging recommends considering these three factors:
The question of where to live is a crucial one for many seniors. You should consider your preferences and requirements for your new home right from the start. As you age, would you like to remain in your current home? Is it possible to do it, given your current living situation and health? Do you have a particular home arrangement that you think will be the best for you in the long run?
Your Health Condition
It is essential to assess current health status when planning long-term care. To reduce their risk of developing severe health problems in the future, the National Institutes of Health (NIA) encourages people of all ages to adopt healthy lifestyles today.
Talking to a doctor about your family history and lifestyle choices and how they may affect your long-term health is one approach, along with “healthy food, regular physical exercise, avoiding smoking, and minimal drinking.” In addition, it is crucial to draft an advanced care directive, a legal document that may aid your loved ones and doctors in making long-term choices on your health care.
Whether you’re an individual or a family, you should consider how you’ll pay for long-term care. Healthcare, lodging, transportation, food, and clothing are some of the necessities that can rack up debt quickly. Do you have a savings plan for elderly care? Can the federal or local government provide you with grants or subsidies to help defray some of the costs? Would you be able to compare the prices and quality of other long-term care options?
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Why buy long-term care insurance?
Long-term care insurance offers coverage for the expenses of long-term care connected with the activities of daily living. It may be necessary to require long-term care due to chronic disease or an injury requiring extensive rehabilitation.
If you purchase long-term care insurance policies when you are young, your rates will be cheaper. You may not be eligible when you wait until you are experiencing health issues to acquire long-term care insurance.
Long-term care costs can be paid for without insurance, but buying a policy can help remove some uncertainty. When you purchase a long-term care policy, your premium is based on age and gender. Your LTC premiums will also be determined by your income and assets, such as stocks or real estate, that could be used if you need them in the future.
Although these factors may not seem that important when shopping around for insurance, they play a crucial role in determining the amount of money you’ll have to pay each month.
Paying for long-term care costs
Paying for long-term care expenses is considerable, and you should carefully consider the cost of long-term care. Whatever type of long-term care you choose, there will be out-of-pocket expenses. Can you afford and handle these costs?
The first step in planning for long-term care is to consider your payment options. Consider how Government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, can help with medical expenses. For example, Medicare often does not offer adequate coverage for “custodial care” benefits, such as assistance with daily living activities.
The cost of medical and other expenses may be covered by long-term care insurance in certain situations. The availability of reverse mortgages, life insurance, retirement assets, and personal income contributes to the overall cost of care.
While you should consider medical expenses when exploring long-term care options, you shouldn’t let them prevent you from getting the help you need. Ask about the cost structures, payment plans, and other related matters of different service providers.
How long do most people need long-term care?
Seventy percent or more of today’s 65-year-olds will need long-term care in their later years. Women need care for an average of three years, whereas males typically only need it for two years. Thirty percent of today’s 65-year-olds will never need long-term care, while only twenty percent will require a care plan for more than 4-5 years.
What percentage of your income should you spend on long-term care insurance?
Your long-term care insurance premium should not exceed 7 percent of your annual income. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the cost of long-term care insurance, for example, should not exceed $280 per month if your monthly salary is $4,000.
What reason may cause a person to live in long-term care?
The number of people who require 24-hour supervision and care due to medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia has increased significantly. The condition can also be complicated by diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and strokes.
Having to acknowledge a need for long-term care can be difficult. Making a decision is never easy. However, if you prepare now, you can alleviate some of your anxiety surrounding the costs of care. You’ll be more confident about taking the next steps if you know you’ve made the best decision for yourself or a loved one when the time comes.