Long-Term Care: When to Plan and How to Pay
Preparing for the possibility of long-term care for a loved on is a scenario no one wants to envision. But, with 63% of seniors needing long-term care, everyone must consider it. As we grow older, it’s wise to put a plan in place to ensure our aging loved ones will be cared for in the best possible way. While you may be open to being a caregiver, taking on the role unexpectedly can be a considerable burden. This article will help you understand steps to take to plan and pay for long-term care.
Planning for Long-Term Care
When you help a friend or family member make decisions about the possibility of long-term care, it won’t be easy. It can be hard for our aging loved ones to accept the potential of needing in-home care or moving into an independent of assisted living facility. However, make sure to point out to them that by planning, they have a substantial say in their future. You have time to:
● Examine family history to see what kind of care may be needed. For example, if your loved one has had more than one close family member — like a sibling or a parent— diagnosed with dementia, their risk increases significantly.
● Start making healthy lifestyle choices that will postpone or prevent some of the common conditions that cause seniors to need long-term care. A healthy diet and daily exercise, along with quitting smoking and limiting alcohol, can add 5, 10 or even 15 healthy years onto a life.
● Reduce the chance an in-home injury could occur by installing non-slip flooring in bathrooms and kitchens, moving bedrooms to first floors or installing a stair lift. More than 3 million seniors go to the ER each year due to accidents in the home. Not only could an injury due to a slip or a fall require physical therapy to recover, but it could also result in the long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Planning for long-term care is part predicting the future and part preventing it. Help your loved one understand that planning is a type of prevention. If you take steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario, you’ll actually be focusing your energy on how to make their golden years the best years yet.
Paying for Long-Term Care
Deciding on ways to pay for long-term care is crucial if you want your planning to make a difference. If your loved on is adamant they have in-home care, but the two of you don’t work out how to cover the costs, they could be facing a great deal of disappointment when the time comes. Figuring out how to pay for long-term care means looking closely at insurance and assets.
Once they understand their insurance options, the next step in planning for costs involves helping them analyze their assets and cash flow. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, especially for seniors who come from a generation where finances are an extremely private matter. Emphasize this is a judgment-free conversation, focusing on helping them free up funds for long-term care by:
● Including long-term care in their retirement planning, from deciding when to retire to how much they will need to put into a 401(k).
● Considering a reverse mortgage, which involves understanding the pros and cons. On the one hand, a reverse mortgage will give your loved one cash in-hand without needing an excellent credit score rating. This can help with making home modifications for accessibility or hiring an in-home caregiver. On the other hand, there could be negative implications to their estate or a spouse or partner who will remain in the home after they leave.
● Selling a life insurance policy is another way to pay for long-term care’s costly daily expenses and medical support. If care isn’t needed, then the policy stands as-is. Many seniors consider this option to be a win-win.
As our life expectancies increase, so does the potential for long-term care. It’s scary and even overwhelming for seniors to think about, so knowing they have the support and guidance of a caring friend or family member means a lot. Your loved one deserves to feel loved in their golden years. Planning for long-term care— even if it is never needed— provides invaluable peace of mind.
Article by June Duncan, the co-creator of the website Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.