Tough Talks: Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care

One of the difficult, but necessary conversations, many have as they age is planning for long-term care. While it is difficult to contemplate those who are no longer able to care for themselves, it occurs all too often. Two out of three senior citizens will become physically or cognitively impaired in their lifetime; one in three will enter a nursing home, with costs  that can reach $90,000 a year.  Based on those facts, it’s important to emotionally and financially plan for long-term care.

Understanding Long-Term Care

The National Institute on Aging describes long-term care as involving “a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time,” to help a person be as safe and independent as possible.

Long-term care encompasses nursing homes, assisted living/retirement communities and hospice care, and it also includes home care, one of the most common types of long-term care. Home care includes caregivers, home health aides, therapists, homemaker services, companion services and transportation services,  that all can help with activities of daily living.

Some facilities provide progressive care.  For example, “Oakleaf Village is a full service independent and assisted living senior community. It offers residents a variety of services and levels of care. For people who may need memory care services, The Grove at Oakleaf Village has a vibrant, home-like environment featuring a state-of-the-art memory care program focusing on person-centered care and purpose-built design,” explained Stephanie Hess, Senior Vice President, Senior Living Operations, Wallick Communities. 

Anticipating Long-Term Care Needs

When assessing the likelihood of long-term care needs, look at your loved-one’s lifestyle choices. What they eat, how active they are and whether they smoke all have a significant impact on their risks of developing chronic illnesses. Correcting bad habits and choosing healthier options can reduce the chances of needing long-term care in later years. 

There are also tests that can screen for certain hereditary disorders and conditions that can be debilitating. Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, macular degeneration and Parkinson’s disease are  some of the illnesses that can be revealed through genetic testing.  For those who are tested based on family history, often a conversation with a physician about best practices that can either prevent or delay development. 

Some common signs of decline, which may indicate a need for long-term care:

-Decline in cognition that makes it difficult to stay organized. 

-Decline in socialization and hygienic habits. 

-Decline in physical health and overall strength.

These could be signs that it’s time to start considering and evaluating long-term care options. 

Planning for Costs of Long-Term Care 

Many long-term care providers are informal — meaning unpaid, such as relatives or friends. But not everyone has the time, resources and skills to be a long-term caregiver, which may make it necessary to hire professional help. Costs for home health aides can be up to $150 per day or the cost could be higher depending on the level of skill needed from the care provider.

Talking about long-term care isn’t pleasant, but it’s necessary. Talk to your loved one about the options available and their future wishes; doing so will ensure new levels of confidence and enhanced feelings of security for everyone.

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