No one likes to think about getting old. We especially don’t want to think about when we may need help dressing, eating, or bathing.
However, because seventy percent of all seniors will need such assistance, everyone should develop a long-term care plan. Waiting until care is necessary to think about your long-term care is too late.
Among other benefits, creating a plan early helps to ensure that funds can be set aside to cover the inevitable expense of care. It is also easier to evaluate care options now—before a medical or aging crisis—than it is during a crisis. Long-term care planning also gives peace of mind to loved ones because plans take the guesswork out of others’ difficult care decisions.
Today’s post addresses four crucial components that every effective long-term plan should contain. These include identifying where a senior wants to live when they need daily assistance, what funding and insurance are available to cover care costs, how to know when living at home may no longer be feasible, and who is authorized to make care decisions when the patient can’t.
1. Preferred Care Location
Not surprisingly, most older adults want to live in their homes as long as they can. Depending upon the medical challenges an individual faces, an increasing number of services are now available to make staying at home possible—and even more affordable than moving to a skilled care facility.
When developing a plan, seniors should research local home services in their area. A government directory, searchable by city and state, is a great place to start. Or, explore established Home Care agencies like MediQuest Staffing. Planners should also review which services private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid will cover.
Living at home and hiring skilled caregivers should not be the only option explored in the plan. Everyone should also research different skilled care facilities in their area, from independent to assisted living. Using a government directory can help. This is especially important when the senior has a risk of developing dementia or other debilitating severe medical challenges. When researching skilled care facilities, be sure to review not just their costs but also their protocol for residents who outlive their savings. Not every facility keeps residents after they can no longer pay.
Professional care is expensive, whether in the home or at a facility. Therefore, long-term care planning must include a review of seniors’ income, financial assets, and insurance. Medicare and Medicaid cover medical treatment, but they don’t cover room, board, or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing, or eating. Long-term care insurance plans do cover such things but may have high premiums and significant coverage restrictions and limitations.
The median cost of staying in a nursing facility is currently around $92,000 per year. That annual fee varies depending upon the state, level of care, and if the senior is in a private room. If the senior has dementia or Alzheimer’s, the cost is even higher. Long-term care insurance policies can provide a daily benefit. However, regardless of insurance policies in place, seniors should expect to pay a significant portion of that annual fee out of their own savings.
When reviewing assets and insurances, it is recommended that seniors consult with a certified financial planner. Financial planners can help seniors to analyze their current and anticipated income, develop saving strategies and investment plans, and even review long-term care insurance policy options.
3. How to Know When It’s Time For a Change
Although everyone may want to stay in their home and receive care there, long-term care planning should review several scenarios, including knowing when moving out of one’s home is the best option.
When making a plan, seniors may want to take a hard look at their home’s layout to evaluate how conducive it is to senior living. Does it have stairs? Is there a bedroom, full bath, and kitchen on the first floor, or could the first floor be reconfigured? Is the home wheelchair accessible?
4. Decision Makers
Perhaps the most difficult parts of creating a long-term care plan may be identifying what kinds of life-saving care a senior would want to receive, and who can make those decisions if the patient is unable. Older adults may want to create an advance directive to outline life-saving care and assign a medical power of attorney (POA) to a loved one, who could make decisions on the senior’s behalf. Both are legal documents, which medical professionals must honor.
Advance directives identify which life-saving treatments—such as CPR, use of a ventilator, or tube feeding—a patient would want. When a senior no longer wishes to treat a terminal condition, the advance directive can also cover what type of palliative or hospice care they desire.
For help creating an advance directive, seniors can consult an attorney or use AARP’s free online template.
Once a long-term care plan has been completed, seniors should review it with their loved ones. Seniors should also make sure loved ones know where a hard-copy of the plan and any legal documents associated with it are kept. Establishing a long-term care plan is the best way to ensure that when care is needed, seniors will be ready.
Have Questions About Home-Based Long-Term Care Options?
MediQuest Staffing is Central PA’s trusted and experienced resource for home healthcare services. If you’re in the midst of long-term care planning, we invite you to get in touch with us about all the ways we provide the care you need in the comfort of your home.