Many Americans don’t want to think about the day they can no longer live independently and take care of themselves. But the truth is, 70% of Americans 65 and above will require some form of long-term care due to old age, illness, injury or accident.
Unfortunately, many individuals make the mistake of waiting too long to plan for long-term care, sometimes it’s too late that they already need long-term care.
So, when is the best time for long-term care planning?
The short answer is: right now.
Long term care expenses in the United States are high, and delaying having a good plan could significantly affect your finances. There might come a time where you can no longer be able to carry out some of your daily living activities, so you need to take the necessary measures to ensure that you get the best long-term care to meet your needs. What makes matters more troubling is that family members also find themselves at risk physically and financially after they take the responsibility of taking care of you.
Here are some of the things you need to consider to help you get started planning for long-term care.
Some individuals associate long-term care to nursing homes right away. But in fact, there are other long-term care options available today depending on the level of care and assistance you require.
By knowing the various facilities and providers available like home care, adult day care, assisted living facility, CCRC and hospice care you are able to weigh all your options and make the best decision for your future welfare.
Now that you have an idea of different long-term care options, you can now start researching what’s available in your area. A great place to start is the Area Agency on Aging and Eldercare Locator. You can also check out websites of health and aging state agencies and look for a list of long term care providers and services available in your area. Another good resource is, state associations such as the National Center for Assisted Living state affiliate to help you find an assisted living facility.
But make sure that you conduct your research carefully and don’t just rely and accept reviews you read online. Once you’ve identified facilities, you can pay them a surprise visit to make sure that they’re really what they claim to be and to learn more about the care services they provide.
The cost of long-term care depends on the type of care and services you need and the state where you live. When you visit long-term care providers, make sure to ask about the cost of care, if they accept long-term care insurance and assistance from government programs. But first, you need to learn about the current cost of long-term care.
The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is $100,379 while the average annual cost of a semi-private room is $88,348.
Now it’s time to learn about different ways to fund your long-term care needs.
A common misconception is that Medicare pays for long-term care – but it doesn’t. Medicare only pays for a short stay in a skilled nursing home, hospice care or home care as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. It doesn’t pay for custodial care or assistance in carrying out activities of daily living – eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and continence.
Medicaid helps fund long-term care costs but only of low-income individuals. You need to meet specific conditions first, which vary from state to state to become eligible for Medicaid benefits. In case you qualify, take note that its long-term care benefits are limited. There are even some facilities that don’t accept Medicaid.
If you don’t qualify, you should get long-term care insurance, an insurance product that pays for different types of long term care supports and services due to old age, illness, injury or accident.
Ideally, a person should buy long-term care insurance as early as in their 50s to qualify for coverage and to enjoy lower premiums. As you grow older you become more vulnerable to conditions that might require long term care, which decreases your chance of getting coverage at an affordable price. Waiting too long to get coverage has consequences that would put your future at risk and would make you a financial burden to your loved ones.
According to the National Institute of Aging, more than 1in 4 older Americans face medical questions about medical treatment near the end of life but they are not capable of making decisions. One way to ensure that your health wishes will be honored is through advance directives. These documents contain how you wish to be taken care of in the event that you cannot decide for yourself.
Some forms advance directives are living will, which contains decisions that cover which care or medical assistance you want or do not want to be administered when you are no longer able to decide for yourself and medical power of attorney, which appoints a person who will make the decisions regarding health care on your behalf.
Be wary of signs that it may be time for you to hire a caregiver or move to a facility. Some early warning signs include bills are unpaid, clothes aren’t getting washed, the house is dirty, medication is not taken and others.
Once you see these signs, make sure to discuss your plans to your family and close friends to help you in the process of hiring a home health aide or moving to a nursing home or other types of facilities.