The conversation about what your family should do if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for yourself can be a difficult one. However, sitting down and actually having that conversation can make a challenging situation a little easier for those you love. Of course, there’s always a chance you won’t end up needing long-term care. But making these important preparations and decisions about your health can help preserve a higher quality of life should something happen and you require long-term care.
How to Plan for Long-term Care Costs
Some people are more likely to need long-term care than others. For instance, those with a family history of diseases, especially degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, have a higher risk of developing the disease and, therefore, have a higher chance of needing an assisted living situation. When assessing your need for long-term care, ask yourself:
- What are your lifestyle choices like? Do your actions contribute to or hinder your overall health? Try to live a healthy lifestyle that reduces your risk of illness and injury. Eat well, exercise regularly, stay mentally active and avoid falls.
- Do you anticipate any issues with hereditary illnesses or conditions that could make it difficult for you to age in place?
- How close are you to retirement? Would your retirement budget be able to cover the costs of long-term care? If you think you’re at risk for needing long-term care and you aren’t financially prepared, it may be a good time to invest in long-term care insurance.
Paying for Long-term Care
Americans spend billions of dollars every year on long-term care for seniors and the terminally ill. These services may cost more than your average Lakewood, New Jersey, citizen can afford. If you end up needing assisted living, you may have to pay for it through various sources:
- Personal funds such as pensions, savings and income from stocks
- Medicare, Medicaid or your private insurance provider
- Veterans benefits
- Services through the Older Americans Act
- Long-term care savings programs or insurance
Types of Long-term Care
There are generally three kinds of long-term care:
- Skilled care designed to treat a medical condition all day, every day. A treatment plan is ordered by a doctor and then performed by skilled medical personnel, such as a registered nurse.
- Intermediate care involves intermittent nursing and rehabilitative care.
- Custodial care aims to assist with one’s activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and dressing.
Not everyone needs intensive 24-hour care. There are also home health care options for those who need some supervision but not round-the-clock monitoring. This can be helpful for seniors who want to age in place but have mobility issues when it comes to making it to the doctor on a regular basis for things like respiratory therapy, checking blood sugar, cleaning and bandaging wounds, monitoring vitals, and who may need assistance with bathing or dressing.
If you live with a partner or family member, there’s also the option of adult day care. Adult day care is a place for seniors who need supervision and medical attention during the day and working hours. These centers allow people to continue with their jobs to pay for medical care without having to worry about their loved one’s well-being while at work.
Talking about long-term care with those you love isn’t easy, but it’s very important. Determine your potential for needing long-term care, and make lifestyle changes that foster health and independence. Start saving now for long-term care costs, or invest in insurance that will protect you if needed. Finally, know your options when it comes to long-term care.
June Duncan is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who’ve taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She’s the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.