Once you reach a certain age, you will start to need more assistance in order to accomplish tasks you used to be able to do yourself. There’s no need to worry because that’s a normal part of life, and there are people out there who are ready to help you.
Deciding whether or not you need to start preparing for long-term care is tough, but it could be a gift for yourself and for your family members because it ensures everyone is comfortable in the long run. Early planning means you have a say in your future and ample time to make it happen.
Introduction: What is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care is a service most people opt for once they find it a challenge to go about their daily lives. Normal activities done around the house such as taking a bath, cooking and eating food, changing your clothes, etc. become harder to do alone so you hire someone to assist or do them for you.
Reasons may vary and your age may not be a factor in it all. It could be needed due to a chronic disease, an injury from an accident, or a disability you were born with. How long you’ll need long-term care can also vary. It could be for a few months, years, or for a lifetime.
Long-term care can be received at home through members of your household, relatives, or friends. But some communities also offer long-term care through a volunteer program either through private or public organizations.
Home-based long-term care could involve meals delivered to your home, nurses coming around to check on you, or programs you are invited to under the supervision of their capable employees.
If you feel that this is not for you, then you can also look into entering an assisted living facility. This option is usually for people who need help when it comes to personal hygiene such as bathing and dressing up. You can also join a retirement community for more assistance with dining, maintenance, and housekeeping.
Nursing homes are for people who have a greater need for medical attention than others. This means a hospital stay is not necessary, but someone has to be there constantly to make sure medication and other related healthcare needs are met.
It goes without saying that long-term care is expensive. A survey done by Genworth Financial found that healthcare at home can go as high as $54,000 annually. Additional costs are added depending on the following factors:
- Duration of care needed over a specific period of time (day, week, month)
- The skill, training, medical certification needed from caregivers
- Location of your home
Assisted living facilities also follow the same estimated price and go even higher depending on the type of service required. Meanwhile, nursing homes offering 24/7 care is expected to rise higher than $90,000 annually. Factors that contribute to the increase of costs include the rising prices of medicine, medical equipment, and the average life expectancy.
Most patients stay in a nursing home for three years, but patients with a lifelong condition such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease may have to stay longer in order to receive the care they need.
It is unfortunate to say that health insurance does not cover the costs of long-term care and neither do Medicare and disability income insurance. The latter supplements a significant portion of your income if you are unable to work, but it is still not enough to pay for the costs of long-term care.
Medicare can only offer limited coverage for a maximum of 100 days after you are hospitalized, but it cannot go beyond that. Therefore, long-term care can only be supported by your personal assets, your family’s assets, long-term care insurance, or Medicaid.
The Medicaid program is meant for people who are unable to support themselves such as individuals who are classified as low-income earners, people with disabilities or are incapacitated, and children. Care is also limited to facilities that are in partnership with Medicaid. It may not be optimal, but it’s the best shot for most people.
Meanwhile, long-term care insurance covers the costs associated with long-term care and is recommended for consideration once you reach 50 years old so that you are given a variety of coverage options to choose from—and premiums cost less while you’re still in good health.
The costs of insurance may sound expensive, but they are worth it as they cover most of the estimated $50,000-$90,000+ costs of long-term care.
Estate Planning and Long-Term Care
While long-term care insurance is helpful in reducing the financial burden of future care, planning ahead by creating an effective estate plan including a living trust may be an even greater financial investment. Having a complete estate plan that includes a living trust, will, and power of attorney may allow for some of your assets to be saved for you and your family should 24 hour skilled-nursing care be needed. In these circumstances, it may be possible to save a great deal of your assets for you and your family instead of spending it all on healthcare costs.
Long-term insurance helps you avoid being a financial burden on your family, relatives, and friends once you start needing long-term care. Making decisions to prepare for your care allows you the power over making decisions for your future.
You can choose which facility to be in, how your estate will be managed while you are in long-term care, and you can focus on getting better instead of worrying about financial issues.
Long-term care also comes with the added benefit of putting your mind at ease knowing you will be taken care of no matter what happens. Sometimes, that comfort can assure a person into focusing on their health rather than figuring out how you’ll make it to the next day without accidents.
Once you feel like you’re ready to plan for long-term care, it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional to assist you in making the right decisions. Dallo Estate Planning, PLLC‘s elder law experts are the best professionals to talk to when you want to qualify for the Medicaid program. Mistakes in the qualification process could bar you from receiving its benefits.
Long-term care is not the end of the world. Some people only need it over a specific period of time; just until they get better. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a type of care only required for the elderly. Younger adults can also qualify for this care if they have an injury or condition that requires it.