Category Archives: Long term care

Long-Term Planning Care Talks Should Start Today

Most individuals hope to be able to age in place. If your parents or other loved ones have that thought as well, there are steps that can be, and should be, taken to make certain that dream can be realized.

It’s a fact of life that we simply do not know what the next day will bring. From suffering a stroke, a trip or fall accident or some other illness or injury, your loved one may go from being independent to being reliant on friends and family or being in the care of physicians. Planning now – today as a matter of fact – to make your home senior-friendly can help you realize the dream of aging in place. Consider too, that an illness or injury could mean you or your elderly loved one could require care for a limited or a long-term commitment, having a conversation today and putting measures in place will relieve much of the stress that arises when the need is imminent.

At some point in almost every person’s life he or she will need personal care above and beyond what a family member may be able to provide. The National Institutes on Health estimate that as many as 70% of all individuals 65-years-old or older will need long-term care assistance.

Here are some items to take into consideration when planning for long-term care, whether it will be in home or in a skilled facility setting:

Where will you want to be cared for and who can provide the care?

  • In-home personal care aide? You can hire a professional to come into the home and care for an aging loved one. These individuals can provide health care and even help around the house with cooking meals and running errands. A personal care aide can help with bathing and other self care issues.
  • Senior day programs are provided to adults in a community setting and offer meals, social interaction and activities and are an ideal setting for individuals that require help during the day. These programs may even offer occupational or physical therapy as well as transportation and are ideal for individuals who are able to be alone at night but need assistance during the day.
  • Senior housing/assisted living settings provide amenities the same as you’d have in your own home but the units also offer housekeeping, access to medical personnel, exercise, activities and help with bathing and other personal care needs.
  • A nursing home is a setting in which 24-hour care is provided. These settings are for individuals unable to care for themselves whether from an illness or injury.
  • Staying in the home is made even more feasible if the home is equipped with a medical alert device and your loved with one with a personal medical alert device. These devices not only offer peace of mind when your loved one is home alone but also provide them with immediate access to emergency medical care if the need arises.

The level of care you or your elderly relative needs will hinge on the circumstances, the level of care a family member needs and the level that other family members feel comfortable providing.

Here are questions that all family members should be involved in when making decisions on long-term care:

  • What level of service will be required?
  • Is there a family member that is willing to take on the role of caregiver?
  • Is there special assistance that will be needed?
  • Is the home senior-friendly? By this we mean, has the bathroom been modified to the needs of a senior (grab bars in the shower, raised toilet seats, etc). Is the kitchen set up so that the senior doesn’t need to climb in order to reach cooking items? Are the rugs non slip? Are there clear pathways to and from the rooms? Are hallways equipped with motion sensor or easy to reach light switches?
  • What does the family doctor recommend for the level of care the senior needs?
  • Are there long-term care or assisted living facilities in the area that have open beds? Remember, if your loved one moves into an assisted living setting, his or her personal medical device can move right along with them and offer an additional layer of care and peace of mind protection.
  • What kind of insurance or other savings are available to pay for the long term care needs?

Taking time now to research options and have open discussions on the needs, wants and desires of the seniors in your life will make it easier for you to make decisions on their behalf (if necessary) when a health need arises. Making life decisions when in the midst of a crisis situation could lead to stress and uncertainty.

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How Will You Pay For Assisted Living Expenses?

As you age, finding ways to pay for the eventual need for assisted living becomes a more pressing concern. Individuals make plans for their Golden Years and retirement with the assumption that they will remain healthy and be able to age in place. Many people fail to plan for what it would cost if assisted living becomes a necessity for one or both of the partners in the marriage.

The costs for assisted living can very quickly dissolve a savings account and leave you wondering how to pay the expenses and this could potentially fall to the children. Planning for the possibility of assisted living arrangements should be done while making plans for retirement. There are various levels of assisted living facilities and the costs, which include:

  • The size of the living space desired
  • The level of healthcare needed
  • The location of the community
  • The amenities provided

In many cases, the costs associated with assisted living are paid for out of pocket or through a combination of Social Security, Veterans benefits or other pension funds as well as savings.

There are ways to plan for the time when you or your relatives may no longer be able to age in place and need more assistance with day to day living.

When making plans for retirement and beyond, here are some things to look into for paying for assisted living:

  • Long term care insurance is a private paid insurance option that can pay for assisted living expenses. The earlier these policies are purchased, the less expensive the premiums. The prices and coverages can vary dramatically depending on the company from which it’s purchased. The premium will also be based on the age, health and level of coverage desired. Read the fine print to see what will be covered and what needs to happen to be able to access the coverage.
  • Medicaid, a government-run program, may assist with certain bills associated with assisted living as each state determines the way in which Medicaid is implemented. The levels of assistance provided are based on the individual’s net worth and income level. Medicaid is typically provided to individuals who have few economic resources or those who are disabled.
  • Medicare is another government program which provides limited assistance to individuals. It typically will pay for care that is deemed medically necessary and may even provide funds to pay for professional caregivers.
  • Veterans benefits, designed for qualified veterans and their spouses, can help with qualified assistance living expenses. Call the local Veteran’s affairs office to see whether this tax-free pension benefit can help.

As with any life event it’s best to plan early for care needed as you age. Making decisions while under pressure or in crisis mode makes the decisions more difficult and may leave information on paying for assisted living expenses unexplored.

 

 

 

 

Make Plans For Long-Term Care Before It’s Needed

Making plans for long-term is one of those items that many individuals put on the backburner, planning to think about “sometime in the future.” As with life-, home-, and auto insurance, plans for long-term care are an investment in your future financial viability.

Consider too, that long-term care isn’t something that’s reserved for the elderly only as a debilitating illness or accident can strike at any time.

When looking into long-term care options, including the ability to age at home, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Buying long-term care insurance when you’re younger will have a less expensive premium than will buying one when you’re older (and likely in more immediate need). Take time and shop for the best policy. Premiums will likely increase as you age so make certain your family budget will be able to keep up with the potential increases.
  2. Set up a central location at your home where your family members can find your long-term care policy, end of life paperwork, medical doctor contacts, and lists of prescription medications. In the event of an emergency, you want there to be no doubt as to your health wishes and you also want to make certain your family has access to all critical medical information in the event you can’t speak for yourself.
  3. In addition to letting the family know where your paperwork is, you need to choose an advocate that will speak on your behalf and will have the power to make decisions on your behalf. You may also need to file for a Power of Attorney so there is no doubt your wishes will be carried out.
  4. Read the fine print on the long-term care policy as the coverages vary widely; some will cover in-home care, doctor’s visit fees, day-in and day-out care or the fees associated with moving into an assisted living facility. Many policies also carry “inflation protection” and this is crucial as you need to keep up with ever-increasing costs of long term care.
  5. Compare coverages offered by several companies and don’t make any snap decisions. Talk with a trusted legal advisor if you have any unanswered questions or any items in the policy that seem unclear.

Planning for long term care, while not something anyone truly wants to think about is an investment in your future health and the care you will receive when you’re no longer able to take care of yourself.

 

Make Plans For Long-Term Care Before It’s Needed

Making plans for long-term is one of those items that many individuals put on the backburner, planning to think about “sometime in the future.” As with life-, home-, and auto insurance, plans for long-term care are an investment in your future financial viability.

Consider too, that long-term care isn’t something that’s reserved for the elderly only as a debilitating illness or accident can strike at any time.

When looking into long-term care options, including the ability to age at home, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Buying long-term care insurance when you’re younger will have a less expensive premium than will buying one when you’re older (and likely in more immediate need). Take time and shop for the best policy. Premiums will likely increase as you age so make certain your family budget will be able to keep up with the potential increases.
  2. Set up a central location at your home where your family members can find your long-term care policy, end of life paperwork, medical doctor contacts, and lists of prescription medications. In the event of an emergency, you want there to be no doubt as to your health wishes and you also want to make certain your family has access to all critical medical information in the event you can’t speak for yourself.
  3. In addition to letting the family know where your paperwork is, you need to choose an advocate that will speak on your behalf and will have the power to make decisions on your behalf. You may also need to file for a Power of Attorney so there is no doubt your wishes will be carried out.
  4. Read the fine print on the long-term care policy as the coverages vary widely; some will cover in-home care, doctor’s visit fees, day-in and day-out care or the fees associated with moving into an assisted living facility. Many policies also carry “inflation protection” and this is crucial as you need to keep up with ever-increasing costs of long term care.
  5. Compare coverages offered by several companies and don’t make any snap decisions. Talk with a trusted legal advisor if you have any unanswered questions or any items in the policy that seem unclear.

Planning for long term care, while not something anyone truly wants to think about is an investment in your future health and the care you will receive when you’re no longer able to take care of yourself.

 

Tips For Having Money Talks With Aging Parents

 

Having a discussion about money with your parents is one of those subjects that most adult children dread. While it’s uncomfortable for both child and parent alike, financial issues need to be discussed as you take a more active role in their care.

 

As parents age, they face the potential of having to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home and because of this, candid discussions need to be held regarding the state of your parents’ financial affairs. Because it’s likely that your parents don’t want to consider a move into an assisted living facility, one way to help them age in place is to talk with them about purchasing a home medical alert device. These devices provide your aging relatives with a medical alert pendant that can be activated in the event of a trip or fall accident or other health emergency in the home. These devices are also a cost effective way to provide peace of mind for all members of the family.

 

In the event though, that your parents are unable to live alone or if they suffer a fall and need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility, you need to be aware of the state of their finances before this becomes necessary. The time to discuss money is before your family is in the midst of a health crisis. Taking time to talk with your parents about their savings, their monthly debt and their assets as well as where their financial information is kept and what banks, attorneys or accountants they use is crucial to your ability to help them in the time of need. Depending on the age and health of your parents, you may also want to be proactive in working with them on preparing a will, a healthcare proxy and even power of attorney paperwork. Planning ahead will eliminate confusion and allow a family member to seamlessly step in and make certain your parent’s bills are paid and that you have access to their financial records if you have to make difficult decisions.

Here are five tips to consider before your aging relatives are in need of long term care or medical assistance:

  1. Make certain you understand the differences between Medicaid and Medicare and what each of these programs will pay for. Also, make certain your aging relatives are receiving these benefits if they are eligible.
  2. Begin looking into the long term care and assisted living facilities in your area in the event one is needed.
  3. Speak with your parent’s legal and financial team if they have one. You will want to understand how a stay in an assisted living or nursing home will impact their finances – especially the finances of the parent who may be able to remain in the home.
  4. Check with your own employer to gauge the policy on taking time off to care for an aging relative. Consider too, how taking time off from work, transporting your relatives to doctor’s appointments, etc. will impact your own finances.
  5. Talk with your family members and come up with a plan for long term care needs for your aging relatives. Work out a schedule as to who will assist with caregivin

While these conversations may be difficult to initiate, you need to be prepared prior to an emergency situation; operating from a crisis mode only adds to the inherent stress of the situation.

 

What You Need to Know About Long-Term Care Policies

Aging isn’t cheap. By 2021 nursing home populations are set to balloon, and the average nursing home room is expected to cost roughly $480 per day, adding up to a total of $175,200 per year. While many individuals think they’ll be cashing in their chips on Medicare or Medicaid, most people will find themselves out of luck.

Medicaid only covers the destitute, meaning one’s assets need to be severely diminished. There are also strict rules about transferring assets to heirs within three years of needing a nursing home. Medicare will pay 100 percent of skilled nursing in a nursing home within 30 days of a hospital discharge. The elderly can stay in the same facility for up to 100 days, but after that the cost rests squarely on the resident.

Odds are your loved one will need to invest in a long-term care policy, and polices are pricey. The United Seniors Health Council recommends that only seniors whose assets exceed $100,000, have an annual retirement income of at least $25,000, and can afford to pay premiums comfortably should look into purchasing a policy. It is recommended that their premium not exceed five percent of their current income, meaning those whose only source of income is social security are not viable candidates.

If your loved one is in the position to purchase a long-term care policy, experts say that they should not purchase one until they reach the age of 65, and they should also be in good health prior to applying. There is a small window if you decide to go this route since it is not advisable to apply after 65. It becomes harder to pass medical tests, which ups the premiums. Many salespeople will try to convince potential customers to buy policies when they’re young, but this is mainly due to the fact that they receive a much larger commission.

When purchasing long-term care insurance, make sure the insurer is solid and stable. Do the homework and check out the company on AMBest, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or the Weiss Ratings Database considering the following:

  1. How long has the insurer been writing insurance?
  2. What is the company’s history on payouts and premium increases?
  3. What facilities are covered, i.e. nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care?
  4. How does the company treat pre-existing conditions?

The policy you chose should also offer flexibility in the application of benefits. Standard daily benefits range from $100 to $250 a day. The benefit should make up the difference between your income and the cost of nursing home facilities in your area. It is also a good idea to account for inflation. This will increase your premiums, but will save you money in the long run.

When choosing how long you would like the company to pay for care, there are numerous considerations to take into account. Some people choose lifetime coverage, which is the maximum amount of care. While it is the most expensive, it is also the most secure. Others examine statistical data and family history to determine how long they believe their lifespan will be. Statistics prove that the average nursing home stay amounts to three years. Choosing a three year coverage plan significantly reduces your premiums, but of course it comes with a large gamble. To decide what is right for your loved one, experts say that those 50-65 should choose lifetime benefits with compound inflation rates. Those in the 65-75 range should consider a six-year or lifetime benefit with simple inflation options and those older than 75 should look into purchasing the maximum benefit for as long as they can afford.

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a policy is knowing the eligibility criteria. Participants need to know when their long-term policies kick in. This typically occurs when the recipient needs help with two or more activities in their daily life, which can include cooking, eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and mobility. It is also a good idea to know who determines eligibility. It is better for the recipient if their personal physician is able to make this decision rather than having it lie in the hands of the insurance company.

How soon payments will begin once you become eligible should also be taken into account, generally your options are zero days, 30 days or 90 days. For the insured, one of the greatest benefits is that most long term care policies are guaranteed to be renewed as long as the recipient is paying their premiums.

The best policies are often attained by those individuals who study up on what is available and know exactly what they should be looking for and what questions they should be asking. The informed consumer reaps the greatest rewards.

How To Hire Qualified Home Care Providers

How To Hire Qualified Home Care Providers

When it comes to caring for an elderly or ill relative who is determined to remain in his or her home, you will be faced with the prospect of hiring a qualified home care health provider. There is specialized training that home health care providers must undertake, but above and beyond the training is the personality of the individual who will be interacting – sometimes on a daily basis – with your loved one.

Finding a home care health provider that is not only qualified but one with whom your family member feels comfortable is a daunting task, but once you’ve done it, you will see that the effort you put into the hiring process was worth the effort. A home health care provider is an asset to come in and take care of health related issues, run household errands and take your relatives to doctor’s appointments as well as making certain that they are eating, caring for themselves and their hygiene and getting exercise. In addition to hiring the services of a qualified home health care provider, outfitting the home you’re your aging relative with a home medical alert system and medical alert jewelry helps provide ‘round the clock peace of mind.

Here are some traits you will want to look for in a home health care provider:

  • Will they prepare meals?
  • Will they help with light housekeeping, laundry, and taking trash to the road for pick up?
  • Will they make certain the patient remains active by making certain they get up and move around the house or even undertake light exercise such as a walk?
  • Will they address health and safety needs? Make certain medications are being taken and that doctor’s visits are attended?
  • Do they adhere to strict confidentiality requirements?
  • Are they an effective communicator with family members in the event of a medical issue? Are they compassionate with your family member?
  • If your family member has any special medical needs, is the health care giver able to attend to those needs?

Above and beyond these traits, you and your loved one must feel comfortable with the person and feel confident in his or her attentiveness to the needs and wishes of the elderly relative.

The caregiver should also be aware of the elderly individual’s medical alert bracelet and system and make certain the individual is always wearing the help button. You will likely want to add the health caregiver to the list of medical emergency contacts for the home medical alert monitoring system as well as a select list of family members. Equipping your aging loved one with a qualified in home health care provider as well as equipping both them and the home with a home medical safety alert system provides peace of mind both day and night.

Aging Without Children – NYTimes.com

Aging Without Children – NYTimes.com

Aging Without Children

The High Cost of Caregiving



With over 35 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States, and 30 percent of adult children providing finances for their parents’ care, one of the biggest burdens currently associated with aging is the high cost of medical care.

 

As a person ages their need for long-term care significantly increases. Those over the age of 85 are the fastest growing population group in the nation. As people continue to live longer, their need for long-term care is extended and with an increase in the need of caregivers, this ballooning group will soon use all the current programs designed to pay for formal caregivers, and then some.

 

Most caregivers providing care for the elderly today are informal, unpaid family members and their economic value is estimated at $306 billion nationwide each year, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Meanwhile annual national spending on formal health care only reaches $158 billion.

 

With the increase in family caregivers, in 2002 over half of U.S. workers said they provided some form of caregiving, employers are beginning to experience staffing problems due to caregiving. Businesses lose an estimated $17.1 billion each year attributable to their employees’ absences due to caregiving for family members over the age of 50.

 

While many elderly people in the U.S. have their finances figured out related to medical services and medications, they often ignore the costs associated with long-term care. As government programs are being sucked dry by this burgeoning population, elderly Americans are going to need to start focusing on ways to pay for the high cost of long-term care on their own.

 

My Grandfather (†); photo from January 17.JPG

Image via Wikipedia

 

Checking in on the elderly during the holiday season!

Portrait of old woman sitting by a window.

Image via Wikipedia

The holiday season is the time to share with friends and family. Creating new memories is important as it allows an everlasting bond to be built with all parties involved. But what about those less fortunate that don’t have family and friends around to share the wonderful experiences that the holidays can offer? Many elderly people are forgotten at this time due to all the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, cooking, eating and parties. It’s important to remember the special people in our lives who many times have made everything that we have possible and those who don’t have anyone to remember them.

Many times throughout the holiday season, elderly feel lonely because they have no family or friends around to share those special moments with. Because we tend to neglect our loved ones around the busy holiday season, it is important to remember that family comes first and to take time out of our busy schedule to talk and visit with our friends and family who need extra comforting. Making an elderly family or friend feel loved over the holiday season not only helps them feel less lonely but allows us to feel connected to someone who may not get the attention and love they want, need, or desire. As technology advances, so do the way we communicate with each other. It is important to remember that nothing beats face to face interaction with a loved one. That being said, the new age of communication is emails; writing a letter to an elderly loved one helps to rekindle the connection between both parties and will put a smile on the recipient of the letter.

Also, taking time out of a busy week to call in and check on a loved one creates a bond that reminds us to be thankful for what we have in life. Taking the time out of a busy day, week or month to drop into a nursing home and share the warm love that any visitor brings helps make the holiday season that much more special. The goal around the holidays should always be to remember where we came from and how special our family and friends are. Taking time to give back to others who is in need allow the less fortunate to feel grateful for what they have as well. Even if there are no elderly family members to visit, donating time and energy by visiting a nursing home brings cheer to those around. The holiday season is about giving and being thankful, remember what is important and take time to show your gratitude to those around you. Happy holidays to all of our loved ones, our friends and family!