October is Long-Term Care Planning Month

How Will You Pay for Your (or Your Parents’) Long-Term Care?

Medicare, Health Insurance, & Disability Coverages DO NOT Pay for Most Long-Term Care Services

Long-Term Care Planning Month was designed to encourage seniors, and those acting on behalf of their older parents, to develop a plan to help meet the high costs of long-term care. The great majority of long-term care costs are not covered by Medicare or most health insurance plans. 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 limited.

In decades past, there was little need for long-term planning because the vast majority of women did not work outside the home but were “expected” to care for their elderly or chronically ill parents, in-laws, and husbands on an unpaid, continuing basis.

Today, with both women and men working full-time, high divorce rates, and families often living thousands of miles away—caring for loved ones ourselves is usually no longer an option.

Why Have Older Seniors Not Planned Ahead For Their Current Long-Term Care Needs? ­

  • It was impossible for our parents to predict years ago that the age-old tradition of daughters and wives caring for their loved ones at home until their passing would become obsolete due to dual-careers and societal changes.
  • Today’s elders were assured that their retirement savings, pensions, Medicare, Social Security and other work and government-related benefits would allow them to continue to live comfortably and securely to the end of their lives. Unfortunately, most of today’s older seniors do not possess nearly enough assets nor receive enough monetary benefits to even come close to meeting their long-term care needs in today’s world.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance (“LTC Insurance”), which pays for non-medical in-home care or nursing home care for periods longer than one year, is relatively new. Policies were first offered in the early 1980s but LTC Insurance is still not widely-known or understood by consumers today. So, by the time today’s elders or their families first inquired about LTC Insurance, a huge number were already deemed ineligible due to pre-existing health conditions

What Does “Long-Term Care” Mean?

  • Long-term care refers to non-medical, personal care assistance to help individuals stay safe, comfortable and dignified until the end of their days. Assistance is provided with ordinary, daily living activities (“ADLs”) such as bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, and following medical directives—including taking prescription drugs.
  • Families are increasingly opting for in-home  long-term care, such as that provided by Visiting Angels’, to keep their loved ones In the comfort of their own homes and to maintain their customary daily routines.­
  • Another long-term care option is permanent residence in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities. In this scenario, seniors move into community living environments where they must not only adjust to new living arrangements, but also give up their customary daily routines. For the most part, the facilities—rather than seniors or their families—will control the manner in which residents are cared for and what activities they may attend.

Why Plan Ahead for Long-Term Care?

  • Long term care is a leading cause of catastrophic out-of-pocket health care costs for elders and their adult children.
  • By planning ahead, you will increase the time you have for saving up sufficient money to get the help you want when you need it.
  • By planning when you or your parents are in relatively good health you greatly increase the chances for qualifying for LTC Insurance which will cover most, if not all, of your non-medical long-term care costs.

Two of the most important advantages of planning in advance are:

  • 1) The ability to consciously decide the course and quality of your golden years
  • 2) Provide your spouse and/or your adult children with the gift of not overburdening them with your day-to-day care needs

For more great information about planning for your long-term elder care NJ, download our October Community Resource bulletin. As one of the prominent home care agencies in NJ, Visiting Angels is here to be a part of your long-term care plan!