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Five Steps To Prepare For Long-Term Care

October is Long-Term Care Planning Month; do you have plans for senior living?

Most of us don’t want to think about the day when we can no longer take care of ourselves, or when our loved ones can no longer live on their own. However, the reality is that we all will need some kind of long-term care. This means we may need assistance with daily activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating or using the restroom.

Planning ahead for senior living means having more time to make decisions and being proactive instead of reactive. Here are five steps you can take now to better prepare yourself should the day come for you or your loved ones.

1. Get Educated

There are many senior living care options available, depending on the level of assistance you require. Study the different options like home health services, independent living, assisted living, adult day/foster care, and hospice to understand what services each provides. That way when you think it’s time for assistance, you will know the range of services and supports and will have a sense of what setting may be best for your loved ones’ or your personal needs.

2. Start Planning For The Cost

For the most part, a majority of long-term care costs are not covered by most health insurance plans or Medicare. That is where planning for senior living becomes so important.

Medicare only covers medical and rehabilitative care (doctors and nurses) and does not cover non-medical care including help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Medicaid will cover the cost of long-term care but only after an individual has depleted all their assets, and the choice of Medicaid facilities or Medicaid in-home services are very expensive.

There are private pay options such as long-term care insurance, which experts recommend should be purchased in your mid-50s. Life insurance and your personal income and savings are other options to pay for senior living. Talk with insurance agents, perhaps a financial advisor, and loved ones to begin planning.

The cost of senior living and your care options for coverage vary depending on your state and the type of services you need. When you meet with various providers, make sure to ask about their costs, billing practices, and if they accept any assistance programs.

3. Think About Your Health Care Wishes and Let Your Loved Ones Know

According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one out of four older Americans face questions about medical treatment near the end of life but are not capable of making those decisions. It’s important to discuss the values and goals of healthcare with loved ones and physicians.

Planning ahead is always important, but it’s even more so for advance directives. Advance directives allow individuals to request or deny a specific type of medical treatment if they are nearing the end of life.

Advance directives often include a living will and an appointed healthcare power of attorney. A living will detail what kind of medical treatment (if any) a patient wishes to receive if they can no longer make their own medical decisions.

If you have your care wishes in a legal document or a durable medical power of attorney, make sure your loved ones know. It will help give them peace of mind and prevent questions, confusion, or disagreements should they become incapable of making medical decisions.

Make sure to share your advance directive with key individuals and review your decisions from time to time.

4. Finding the Right Information and Organizing the Most Helpful Resources

You will need to assess your loved ones’ needs and gather the right information; this includes important documents such as wills and insurance policies. It’s also important to organize helpful national and local resources that are available to support caregivers—especially information about public benefits programs that might provide just the extra boost families may need. Putting all the useful information in one central place will help avoid uninformed decisions and expensive mistakes later on.

5. It’s Never Too Late, Start Planning Now

No matter where you are on the caregiving journey, it’s never too late to start a plan for senior living. By preparing now, you can relieve some of the pressure and stress. That way, when the time comes, you can find peace of mind in knowing you’ve made the best decision for you or your loved one… and be more confident about taking the next steps.

FAQ: Understanding and Preparing for Long-Term Senior Living

Q: What is long-term care planning, and why is it important?

A: Long-term care planning involves preparing for future healthcare needs and services required when you or a loved one can no longer perform daily activities independently, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, and using the restroom. It’s crucial because it ensures that you have a plan in place for your or your loved one’s care needs, preferences, and financial provisions. Without planning, you may face limited choices, higher costs, and increased stress during emergency situations.

Q: What are the different types of senior living options available?

A: The primary types of senior living options include home health services (in-home care), independent living communities, assisted living facilities, adult day/foster care, and hospice care. Each option offers varying levels of care and services tailored to meet the needs of individuals with different levels of independence and health conditions.

Q: How can I finance long-term care?

A: Long-term care can be financed through private pay options like long-term care insurance, life insurance with a long-term care rider, personal income, and savings. Medicare covers some medical and rehabilitative care but not non-medical care for daily living activities. Medicaid may cover long-term care costs for individuals who have depleted their assets. It’s essential to consult with financial advisors or insurance agents early, ideally in your mid-50s, to plan effectively for these costs.

Q: How do I discuss health care wishes with my loved ones?

A: Discussing healthcare wishes involves having open and honest conversations with your loved ones about your values, goals, and preferences for medical treatment in case you’re unable to make decisions yourself. Creating advanced directives, such as a living will and appointing a healthcare power of attorney, are critical steps. Ensure these documents are accessible to your loved ones and healthcare providers, and review them regularly to reflect any changes in your wishes.

Q: What steps can I take now to prepare for long-term care?

A: Begin by educating yourself on the different senior living options and their associated costs. Start financial planning early, discuss and document your healthcare wishes, and organize important documents and resources in an easily accessible place. Even if you feel it’s late, starting your planning process now can significantly ease future transitions, allowing you to make informed decisions and providing peace of mind.

Q: Where can I find more information and resources for long-term care planning?

A: Numerous resources are available to support long-term care planning, including the National Institute on Aging, AARP, local Area Agencies on Aging, and specialized websites offering information on senior living options, legal documents, and financial planning. Consulting with a senior living advisor or healthcare professional can also provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Simplify Your Long-Term Care Planning with Care Assessment Tool

Recognizing the significance of planning for long-term care is a crucial step toward securing a comfortable and dignified future for ourselves and our loved ones. As October marks Long-Term Care Planning Month, it’s an opportune time to reflect on our plans for senior living and take proactive measures to prepare.

To assist in this journey, utilizing tools like our Care Assessment Tool can be invaluable. This tool simplifies the process of determining the level of care needed, whether it’s in-home services, independent living, assisted living, or more specialized care. By inputting specific needs and preferences, you’ll receive tailored recommendations, helping you make informed decisions about long-term care planning.

Starting now can alleviate the stress and uncertainty of future care needs, ensuring that you or your loved ones have access to the best possible options when the time comes.


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