Defining Long-Term Care
Long-term care entails a list of services centered on assisting with a person’s needs. These needs can range from personal to medical in nature and vary by duration of time. These services are designed to help those who can no longer perform daily activities on their own, live as independently as possible.
Long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings and locations. The level of care needed is often dependent upon each individual’s needs and health profiles. This care can occur at home, nursing facilities, adult daycares, and many more settings. A large percentage of long-term care, occurs at home by a friend or family member.
Personal care makes up a large percentage of long-term care needs. This care is centered around help with performing activities of living or ADL’s. These activities are present in everyday life. Because of this, a person who is unable to perform 2 or more ADL’s ,will likely need long-term care.
Some Activities Of Living include:
Long-term care services can also include day care, meal prep, and transportation services. These services can sometimes be offered for free but often have a high price associated with them. People with serious conditions, disabilities, or chronic health issues, are most likely to need this type care. Additionally, these individuals will often require a higher level of care as well. For many the needs for long-term care will arise gradually with age. However, it is not uncommon for a long-term care need to suddenly arise after a sudden illness or accident.
Predicting Long-Term Care
It is nearly impossible to predict exactly who will require future long-term care and who will not. There are however some factors to consider when determining your own risk. These factors include:
- Gender (Females are more likely to need care)
- Status (Single individuals are more likely to need care)
- Age (Your risk increases with your age)
- Family History (Family history can increase risk)
- Lifestyle Habits (Poor diet and exercise can increase risk)
Home Based Long-Term Care Services
At home or home based long-term care involves long-term care services offered at home. These services can range from support, health, and personal services administered at home, to help you age at home. These services are usually provided within the recipients home or a family member’s home. At home services can be either short-term in duration for someone recovering from surgery or long-term. Family members, friends, or neighbors are often the providers for this type of care and often deemed unpaid caregivers.
These services are usually personal in nature and encompass activities such as dressing, bathing, medication management, and ongoing supervision. Paid caregivers can also provide home based long-term care. Caregivers can be found professionally or informally and can include, nurses, health aides, therapists, family, or home makers. There are also agencies that can help you find the perfect caregiver for you desired level of care.
Home Health Care
Home health care is medical in nature, part-time, and usually ordered by a medical professional. Those suffering from a specific condition are most likely to require home health care services. There also exists home health care agencies that can help you find the specific care you require. Some common home health care services include speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Government programs such as medicare will sometimes cover the costs of these services for those 65 or older.
Homemaker services may include household chores, housekeeping, and meal prep. Many home health agencies will offer these services along with persona care services. Some person care services include:
For those who require less around the clock care one may consider a companion service. The services entail a volunteer companion paying regular shorts visits to an individual. This is ideal for elderly individuals who live alone. The goal of these services is to increase safety for frail seniors who may live alone and otherwise spend extended periods alone.
Senior transportation services focus on helping senior get around when they can no longer drive. These group trips may include doctor visits, grocery stores, shopping centers, and more. These services may vary in cost but are often offered throughout senior communities and other facilities. Learn more here.
Emergency Alert systems
Emergency alert systems are typically electronic and respond to medical alerts. This technology features electronic monitors usually in the form of a wearable accessories for the senior (watch,necklace, bracelet). Buttons are used to alert when something as wrong and medical attention is need. These alerts are great for senior who live alone may require help in case of emergency. These gadgets can help alert in case of:
- Low blood sugar
While you may never need long-term care, there is always a possibility that you might. An unexpected accident, illness, or injury could quickly alter your circumstances. That is why it is best to be prepared for long-term care before you actually need it
Planning ahead for long-term care gives you time to carefully examine your options. It allows you to access what is best for you at a time while you are still well and make the important decisions now. You will never regret being overly prepared.Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s,dementia , other cognitive impairments should especially prepare.
Where To Start
Knowing how and where to start when planning for long-term care can be the most daunting obstacle. An easy place to start is by using your imagination. Simply imagine how your life would change now if you became critically ill or disabled. It may also help to speak with your friends and family and determine the resources that would be available to you. More questions to ask yourself are:
- Who would take care of me if I needed care?
- Would my home be suitable for living?
- Where would I live?
- How would I pay for my care?
- What things may I need help with?
You may also start by considering your current health profile. Ask your doctor which family illnesses you are most at risk for. There may be measures you can take to help minimize your risk. Enacting a healthier lifestyle may benefits you now and in the future. Small changes could help increase your health and reduce your risk for care. Some big areas to make small changes may include:
- Mental health
If you are one of the many individuals who picture themselves again at home, you may want to start making small changes now. You will want to ensure that wherever you choose to age and potentially receive care, is suitable for your needs. You will want to ensure this space is accessible, safe, and practical for you to navigate. If you find your home may not be suitable you will want to consider making changes or other arrangements.
While deciding where to age can be difficult, a secure space can help improve your quality of life. Making these decisions with ample time can help avoid hasty last minute calls on important factors such as this one.
The financial aspect of long-term care is one of the most important factors to consider. Most long-term care services are not inexpensive and ensuring you can afford your care is vital. Your planning will vary upon your financial situation however there are many suitable options for all. There are a variety of ways to account for your long-term care and below are some of the most common way to fund your care:
- Long-term care insurance (this type of insurance is designed to help you afford your long-term care benefits in exchange for a yearly premium)
- From your savings ( pensions, savings, investments, and stocks)
- Government programs (medicaid will sometimes cover long-term care for those who qualify)
Long-term care insurance
Long-term care for any duration over 100 days is typically not covered by medicare as it does not fall under the medical care category. Additionally, in order for medicaid to cover your long-term care costs you must meet a certain low income threshold that many will not qualify for. Long-term care insurance helps countless individuals afford the steep costs of nursing homes, assisted living, and even in home care without depleting their own assets.
The way it works is once you elect a policy which fits your needs you pay a monthly premium in exchange for long-term care benefits. The policy will usually kick in once the policyholder requires assistance with two out of six of daily living activities. The policy will also contain an elimination period which states how long the policyholder must wait before receiving benefits.
Medical care vs. custodial care
The largest cost faced by most retired individuals is healthcare, as there are many costs medicare does not cover including long-term care. As a result many individuals are forced to drain their own savings and or/rely on loved ones for their needed assistance. On average one can expect to spend around $6,845-$7,700 a month on a semi to fully private room within a nursing home. Depending on the length of your care and services, these costs can add up to a significant amount and having a plan like long-term care insurance in place can make all the difference.
It is impossible to know for sure whether or not you will require long-term care in the future however, if you have observed the potential costs of that care and have any concerns with affordability, long-term care insurance may be a wise choice. You should also note that the longer you wait to purchase insurance the higher premiums you will likely encounter as insurers consider your age and health profile when determining premiums. Consider working with a licensed and experienced agent who can help you shop the market and compare insurers when looking for your own long-term care insurance.
Factors to consider
While the main costs of you care will vary dependent on your age, facility type, location and level of care. understanding the variable costs of care will make a huge difference. Another factor to consider would be to evaluate long-term care insurance. Just like any other insurance, long-term care insurance was designed to help cover the steep costs associated with a pricey occurrence such as your needing long-term care.
Your long-term care insurance policy and coverage eligibility with vary dependent upon your individual health profile as well as the insurer you elect. One of the advantages to opting for long-term care insurance is the potential for better protection of your retirement savings and other assets. Another benefit when working with the right agent, a good agent can help you research and compare your long-term care options in a smooth and effortless manner.
The best time to start discussing long-term care would be well before any medical or personal care is ever needed. Long-term care describes services aimed to help individuals who can no longer care for themselves on their own. When discussing your own long-term care options, it is best to start early on in order to avoid any hasty or poorly planned long-term decision making.
Throughout your research, you should aim to learn all about the various types of long-term care options available today, as well as which one will work best for you and your family. You may consider speaking with friends and family to gather insight from their individual experiences. Another major factor to consider among your research would be the cost of your potential long-term care needs. The cost of long-term care is quite high therefore, you will want to carefully consider how you plan on funding this care.
Preparation give you options
Whether you choose to opt for a nursing home, at home care, long-term care funds, or out of pocket funding, early planning is instrumental when it comes to all things long-term care. Long-term care costs will more than likely be costly therefore, having money set aside and specifically ear marked for the occasion could make all the difference between receiving the care you want and don’t want. Although the idea of no longer being able to care for yourself may be something you would rather not think about, consider that planning for this possibility now, can allow you more control over your future care then and now.
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