What You Need To Know About Long-Term Care
Long-Term Care is a very confusing and complex issue, not only for elders who may need care, but for families caring for elders as well. Baby boomers are now reaching their own retirement age and also beginning to care for aging parents.
What is Long-Term Care?
Long-Term Care is typically a result of a disability due to chronic illness, injury or reduced functional ability as a natural result of aging.
Who needs Long-Term Care
Who needs Long-Term Care? Up to 70% of elders over the age of 65 can expect to need some type of Long-Term Care services. Long-Term Care can be intermittent such as during a long recovery period form an injury or illness or ongoing resulting from cognitive or functional decline due to chronic illness.
Factors Associated with Long-Term Care
- AGE -The older you are the greater likelihood you will need help with daily activities
- GENDER- Women out live men by roughly five years and are likely to need more help with daily activities
- FUNCTIONAL AND MENTAL ABILITY- Chronic illness or an accident can cause disability resulting in a need for help with daily activities. Typically only 8% of people between ages 40 and 50 have a disability requiring assistance, while 69% of those over 90 require personal assistance.
- HEALTH STATUS- People in good health need less help with daily activities. Those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure may need more help. A family history of chronic illness can be a contributing factor as well. Additionally, poor diet and lack of exercise play a part in one's ability to perform daily activities, increasing the need for assistance.
- LIVING ARRANGEMENTS- Living alone increases the need for long-term care, spouses, partners and family members often act as caregivers for aging family members. Without family support, the need for paid services increases.
Who is Paying for Long-Term Care
According to the SCAN Foundation Medicaid and other government programs pay for over 66% of the long-term care services received in the US. Private payors such as LTC insurance pay for approximately 11% of long-term care services, with out-of-pocket expenditures representing roughly 22% of payors.
What does this mean for you?
If you have accumulated significant financial resources you will likely pay out-of-pocket for your long-term care needs.
If you can afford Long-Term Care insurance you are in relatively good shape, however LTC insurance premiums can be expensive and increase over time. Additionally, you must meet ADL requirements of your policy and pay for expenses during elimination period.
To qualify for Medicaid you must meet specific asset and income requirements. In this case you may be required to "Spend Down" or liquidate your assets before you qualify for assistance.
I want to live at home
- The truth is most people prefer to live in their family home, and in fact they do. Today many, if not all daily care needs can be met with services delivered to the home.
- Home care agencies, government agencies and increasingly, medical professionals are addressing the need of frail elders in their home.
- Arguably, services delivered to the home are less costly than the cost of living in a nursing home. However, there may come a time where alternative options must be considered.
- Health status and Cognitive status weigh heavily on an elders ability to live safely in their own home.
Things will take care of themselves: No Need For Planning
Planning for your own needs or the needs of a loved one requires forethought, discussion and effort. All too often families do not recognize or address the needs of elders until a catastrophic event occurs such as heart attack, stroke, fall or injury.
Five things to remember as you age:
- Maintaining your well being through nutrition and exercise is the best approach to maintaining your independence.
- Discussing your wishes with family member helps them understand how to work with you to meet your needs
- Be honest with yourself, making informed decisions that support your weaknesses while relying on your strengths will produce better outcomes.
- Ask for help when you need it. Many elders do not want to be a burden on families, while family members feel an obligation to help. It is important to keep the lines of communication open and collectively solve issues as they arise.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Research shows that a positive approach to situations as they arise improves outcomes significantly. Involve yourself in your own care by participating in treatments and care plans with a positive attitude, you will feel better.