What You Need to Know about Long Term Care

elderly couple

elderly couple

This is a guest post.

As millions of Baby Boomers approach old age, long term care has become a central concern for many families. Long-term care insurance is purchased to protect seniors and their families from the costs of home-based health care and nursing home costs, which are increasingly rapidly. Medicaid, which accounts for 43% of the cost of nursing home care, is already overburdened.  With the Obama administration dropping a long-term care insurance program (the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program) created by the Affordable Care Act because it was too costly, most families should start considering long term care insurance earlier rather than later.

Long term care providers offer either assistance with the activities of daily living, also known as ADL, or they offer skilled nursing care. Those who help seniors with ADL help seniors with dressing, bathing, ambulation or help with taking medication, while skilled nursing care includes assistance to those who need more advanced care with all of their needs. This senior may have a chronic medical condition such as dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers or advanced arthritis.

Seniors who require skilled nursing care find that the costs are high, often more than they earned and more than they have in their savings account. Most are over 65 years of age and have worked hard all of their lives. Failure to plan ahead for long term care can result in financial disaster and this person may lose their home to pay for long term care. Purchasing a long term care insurance policy aids in the high costs and can be purchased from organizations such as AARP. Medicare, social security, and medicaid may not cover all of the costs, so a supplemental long term care policy can help.

The cost of long term care rises around 5% each year and ranges from $1200.00 a month to thousands of dollars each month, depending on the long term care facility. Assisted living facilities often have a skilled nursing facility on the property, offering aid to those who may need more extensive care than those who need help with their activities of daily living.

There are alternatives to living in a skilled nursing facility. Some of the elderly choose to stay at home and hire a nurse to come in or a loved one may care for them. When it is no longer possible for a loved one to care for them, nursing home care is often sought out. Nursing home care provides physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy in addition to help with medications and ADL.

Some seniors require round the clock nursing care while others need assistance with transportation to the store or doctor. They may only need to have help with household chores or they may need a friend to talk with. Long term care ranges from help with the activities of daily living to round the clock nursing care. This person may or may not be a senior. More than 40% of those receiving long term care are below the age of 65.

The time to start thinking about long-term care is not when you need it.  The time to start thinking about long term care, for yourself, your spouse or your parents, is now.

Photo LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by Jan Tik