Thursday, April 24, 2014

Health Care and Long Term Care

Are you one of those individuals charged with the responsibility of preparing for moving into or helping to manage someone in long term care (LTC)? Then you know the challenges involved. If not, then you definitely need to research all the ins and outs of LTC, especially if you have loved ones who may be getting older or are incapacitated to the point of needing professional help to live in a situation they requires additional supervision.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Long-term care is a range of services and supports you may need to meet your personal care needs. Most long-term care is not medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as:

·         Bathing
·         Dressing
·         Using the toilet
·         Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
·         Caring for incontinence
·         Eating

Other common long-term care services and supports are assistance with everyday tasks, sometimes called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) including:

·         Housework
·         Managing money
·         Taking medication
·         Preparing and cleaning up after meals
·         Shopping for groceries or clothes
·         Using the telephone or other communication devices
·         Caring for pets
·         Responding to emergency alerts such as fire alarms

Consider where you live and whether some of these tasks could be made easier by modifying your home. More info on this subject can be found at this site: http://longtermcare.gov/the-basics/what-is-long-term-care/ .

About 70% of people turning age 65 will need long term care services at some point in their lives, according to HHS.  Long term care isn't intended to cure individuals. It is chronic care that someone might need for the rest of your life. This care can span years and can be expensive depending on the type of care you need and location where that care is received. Long term care insurance is one way of helping to pay for these expenses. Long term care is a complicated issue. The best way to weed out the misinformation about long term care is to learn the facts.

According to the Federal LTC Insurance Program, the cost of long term care varies greatly, depending on the type of care, the place provided, and the region where you receive your care. For instance, the average hourly cost of home care ranges from $15 per hour in Montgomery, Alabama, to $24 per hour in Hartford, Connecticut. Nursing home care costs vary from $148 per day in Shreveport, Louisiana, to $462 in New York City for a semi-private room.

Home care — which most people prefer — is generally more affordable than nursing home care, but still can be expensive. When averaged nationally, the cost of a six-hour visit by a home health aide is $114. That's $29,640 per year for a home health aide visiting six hours per day, five days a week. These costs rise significantly if around-the-clock care is needed. More detailed material on LTC can be found at their site: https://www.ltcfeds.com/index.html .

According to Forbes Magazine, too many people think that long-term care planning is just a decision about whether to purchase long-term care insurance. However, long-term care planning is so much more. It is a discussion about how you will fund this expense, where you will receive long-term care, and who will provide the care.

Unfortunately, very few people are prepared to deal with this risk as less than 8% of people have long term care insurance and only 10% of people in the US have an LTC plan in place. This lack of planning is extremely troubling because long-term care is a very real and expensive risk as nearly 70% of people are going to need some form of long term care at some point. And, the cost of one year in a semi-private nursing home can exceed $150,000.

While self-funding, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, and family provided care will continue to be the primary sources of long-term care funding for the foreseeable future, the market is changing and more people are becoming aware of these new and alternative ways in which to pay for long-term care. Whatever avenue you decide to take, having a plan in place is crucial.
 
Furthermore, as new financing opportunities develop and your circumstances change, your long-term care plan will likely need continued monitoring and adjusting. Much more information about various options can be found at this site: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2014/04/21/new-and-unexpected-ways-to-fund-long-term-care-expenses/ .

Caregivers provide assistance to other people who because of physical disability, chronic illness or cognitive impairment are unable to perform certain activities on their own. So-called informal care can be offered by family members or friends, often in a home setting. Or paid or volunteer professional care, so-called formal care, can be obtained at home, in the community or from institutions such as nursing facilities or government institutions, according to the National Care Planning Council.

Roughly, 11.1 million Americans of all ages are receiving formal or informal care at any given time. This represents about 4% of the population and is comprised of about 9.5 million receiving care at home or in the community and another 1.6 million residing in nursing or intermediate care facilities. About 25.8 million family caregivers provide personal assistance to individuals 18 years or older who have a disability or chronic illness.

And nearly one out of every four households (22.4 million households) is involved in giving care to persons aged 50 or older. About 43% of those receiving care are under the age of 65 and are evenly spread between ages 18 to 64. Children under 18 and receiving assistance because of disability are often characterized under different criteria of caregiving. More information about LTC can be found at this site: http://www.longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/caregiving.htm .

Long term care requires careful planning and the use of professionals to help guide you through your options, especially if you plan on purchasing LTC insurance or consider other financing options. Don’t procrastinate thinking you have lots of years ahead of you. The reality is that LTC is drastically underfunded and unanticipated until it may be too late.

Until next time.

1 comment:

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