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The Importance Of Long-Term Care Planning

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

someone being provided with long-term care

Long-term care plans have been around since the 1970s but did not gain in popularity because many families were still caring for mom and dad at home.

As society and work responsibilities have increased, the awareness of the need for long-term planning became more popular starting in the 1990s. The preceding generations who remembered how taxing it was to care for and cover for their aging parents wanted to know how to keep from placing that burden on their children when the time came.

October is Long-Term Care Planning Month and aims to create awareness among senior caretakers, caretakers, and even adults entering their midlife of the importance of preparing for the exorbitant financial tolls that healthcare can take as we age.

What is Long-term care?

Long-term care refers to the care and services that fall outside of medical treatment for the elderly. It often encompasses help and assistance with everyday tasks as they age and have a difficult time caring for their self such as grooming, dressing, preparing meals, and other essential skills that can no longer be done independently. Long-term care support can be given at home, in the community, in assisted living, or in nursing homes. It should be noted that most insurance plans will not cover long-term care that is not medical and so the cost for assistance and daily activities will be out of pocket without proper planning.

When should I start planning for long-term care?

It is suggested that you begin planning for long-term care well before it is needed. The recommended age range to begin planning for this is between ages 40 and 50.

It is human nature not to worry about an event until it happens.

Long-term care needs are probably the worst thing that could happen to an older person out of the blue. The need for long-term care removes the sense of security an older person may have.

When older person needs long-term care, they lose independence, experience a loss of good health, and use up remaining assets and income. Finding themselves relying on others for care without the proper resources becomes devastating to those that experience it.

Why Plan Ahead for Long-Term Care?

someone filling out a long-term care form

Healthcare costs for the elderly and their grown children can skyrocket due to the necessity of long-term care. Yet for many, it is an 'out of sight out of mind' approach to long-term care. Many people will worry about the what-ifs and possibility of a house fire over the possibility of needing long-term care. In reality, the likelihood of needing long-term care is 600 times more likely to be needed than insurance for the what-if of a house fire. Additionally, The chance of needing long-term care is 120 times more likely than that of an auto accident. That is not to say that you should not have a proper home and car coverage with insurance. You may pay high insurance premiums for years and never have to file a claim, but you will most likely at some point have to make arrangements for long-term care.

With some simple preventative planning, 40-50-year-olds will have the needed time to sufficiently prepare for the costs associated with long-term care. When you are in relatively good health and planning for the future, there is a greater chance to qualify for long-term Care Insurance that can cover a substantial amount of non-medical long-term care costs.

What is the main goal of long-term care?

Still not sure that you need to be thinking about long-term care yet? Consider the following:

  • People are living longer. The older a person is the more likely they are to need long-term care in their aged years.

  • More than 50% of those over the age of 85 have to have some sort of long-term care.

  • The older a person is connected with dementia. According to The Alzheimer's Association, just under 50% of those over 85 have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

  • *With obesity on the rise in the United States, it is estimated that assistance in the form of long-term care will increase by up to 20%.

  • About six out of every ten people will require long-term care services at some point in their lives.

  • As the number of births goes down, families get smaller. With fewer children, more single-person households, and more older people, there will eventually be more people who need care than there are family caregivers to help them.

  • Today more than in decades past, children are moving further away from their birthplace or the elderly are choosing to move to new locations for retirement, and this makes it difficult for families to help with any long-term care needs. (source for statistics: statistical abstract of the United States, 2005)

When Thinking Ahead For Yourself:

Before everything else, you should consider what would you do in the event of a catastrophic health crisis or disability. Discuss who would take care of you in the event that you needed long-term assistance with your loved ones, friends, and legal counsel. Learn more about the process of creating a healthcare directive in advance.

When Thinking Ahead For A Loved One:

It's not easy to decide if a loved one absolutely must leave their current living situation. Decisions on where to receive care for a loved one often need to be made quickly, such as when an unexpected injury necessitates a change in treatment. Sometimes a family needs to find a place quickly, while other times they have time to investigate their options.

Loved ones may ask and make you promise not to move them to a ‘home.’ Many people as they age long to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their home, but making a promise like that may cause a heavy financial burden and stress that will eventually affect your own health and well-being. The best approach is to promise to always consider the best care for them when making decisions. Some illnesses and injuries can not receive the proper care by allowing the person to stay in their home.

Making Financial Decisions for Long-Term Care

Long-term care can be expensive. The question becomes: how can we pay for long-term care? This depends on many mitigating factors.

  • Personal funds, including pensions, savings, and income from stocks

  • Government health insurance programs, such as Medicaid

  • *(Medicare does not cover long-term care but may cover some costs of short-term care in a nursing home after a hospital stay.)

  • Private financing options, such as long-term care insurance

  • Veterans’ benefits

  • Services through the Older Americans Act

Whatever the case, without proper planning, the need for long-term care can result in the single greatest crisis in an elderly person's life.

With the sole purpose of having the entire month of October dedicated to Long-Term Care Planning, the hoped-for outcome is to bring awareness and help people to become more comfortable when discussing the possibility of needing long-term care at some point in their life. Planning ahead allows time to weigh on the very important decisions that may have to be made at a critical point later in life. Without proper forward planning, the need for long-term care can cause financial devastation and undue stress on those that become responsible for the care. As you consider what your plan will be for your long-term care or the care of a loved one, remember that the Blakey Hall family will help to guide you when the time comes. Reach out today to schedule a tour of our facilities where we offer 3 different types of care: independent living assisted living and a dementia care facility.

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