Long-term care is a policy that pays for in home and nursing home care when an individual requires assistance with physical or emotional needs over an extended period of time. Experts estimate that 60 percent of all people over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care. Disability, ill health, injury, terminal illnesses and the frailty associated with old age are all reasons why a person may need long-term care.
There are two types of care that may be needed. Some people require only custodial care for help with the many activities associated with daily living like cleaning, dressing and eating. This type of care can be given safely and reasonably by individuals who are neither skilled nor licensed medical personnel. Others may need skilled care, which cannot be given by someone without a license.
Many people assume that, no matter which type of care they need, Medicare will pay for it—but unfortunately, that is not correct. Medicare only covers certain types of skilled care needs and often has long waiting (or elimination) periods. This leaves many families with insufficient resources to get the help they desperately need.
There has been a steady shift away from the use of nursing homes for long-term care over the last 40 years because most of those receiving long-term care and most caregivers prefer a home environment. This decision is often dictated by the funds available but with a long-term care policy, there is no need to sacrifice quality or care for cost.
Example 1—Sandwich Syndrome
Gerontologist Elaine Brody described women in their 40’s caring for both children and parents as the “Sandwich Generation” twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately, the past 25 years has not changed much for this group and dividing time between caring for parents and rearing children is still causing some couples to be pulled in two directions.
Now that two income families are the norm, there is often no at-home family member to act as a caregiver, and either help must be called and paid for or one family member must give up their job and, as a result, their income. Since caregiving already puts a strain on a family budget, the loss of a job can leave many families raiding college and retirement savings and standing on the brink of bankruptcy.
Example 2—The Unexpected Injury
The need for long-term care does not only affect the sandwich generation; anyone can be paralyzed following a car accident, unexpected illness or chronic disease such as Parkinson’s disease, which can strike young adults. While many people recognize the possibility of the unforeseen and insure themselves against it, most people under the age of 50 do not consider long-term care to be a necessary expense.
Paying a healthcare aide to come to the home and work eight hours a day averages about $73,000 a year. A private room in a nursing home with round-the-clock skilled care costs around $70,000 a year, while assisted living arrangements cost around $32,000 a year. If you are struck by a life changing illness at a young age, can you or your family save enough to pay for long-term care out-of-pocket? Can they desert their own obligations and care for you full time?
Example 3—The Female Caregiver
A 2004 study conducted by National Family Caregivers Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving showed the females provide more hours of care than men. Parents, in-laws, spouses, friends and neighbors depend mainly on the women in their immediate circles to provide this unpaid, informal care. The hours women spend on care giving often represent more than time. Many sacrifice earnings as they reduce work time, use family leave, opt for early retirement, or simply drop out of the workforce. Not only does this reduced pay hurt the women’s everyday budget, but it also significantly impacts both their retirement savings and their Social Security payments. One study found that almost half of female Baby Boomer caregivers suffered financial hardship as a result of their care giving. Those who do continue to work a shortened schedule often must do so into their 70’s because they are still struggling with retirement issues.
If these caregiving women ignore long-term care insurance as their loved ones did, then they are ensuring that their children or other loved ones will be locked into the same cycle they are. Instead, the women who are currently taking care of a loved one must consider themselves the transition generation and are morally obligated to design a proper long-term insurance plan to protect the next generation of women. Such a plan will preserve financial stability in our homes as medical science continues to advance, often extending a person’s life, while leaving them without the ability to be self-sufficient. It will also provide security for embattled caregivers, who often receive little support from other family members scattered around the country.
Getting Long-Term Care Insurance
The professionals at The Insurance Center can help you find a long-term care policy for your loved ones that covers all the basics and has an affordable premium. We can help you find the right elimination period so that you aren’t stuck with bills for months before the policy can be used, we can help you choose the right dollar limits so that your loved ones don’t need care with a cost that exceeds their benefit, and we can help you structure a policy that provides for home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite and hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s facilities along with out-of-pocket expenses.
Too many caregivers are hastily thrown into a situation where they have to make snap decisions about long-term care because of a sudden illness or deterioration of a loved one. The time to start preparing for long term care is when your parents and loved ones are still able to talk about complicated issues like budgeting, wills, and estate plans. The right time to start planning is when there’s no pressure to make decisions. Call The Insurance Center today and let us help.