Understanding Long-Term Care Options for Seniors

Getting older is a part of life that we all must accept in our reality. It happens to us and it happens to the ones we love. As we get older, we start to think about how we’ll financially support ourselves during our retirement, but we might be overlooking the costs of being a senior: Long-Term Care. Seniors, caregivers, family members and juniors looking toward their futures should understand the options for Long-Term Care so they can plan ahead.

Long-Term Care (LTC) refers to care that’s given for chronic illnesses, debilitating or degenerative diseases, long recovery periods, or aging seniors who can no longer live without assistance. LTC services encompass various medical and personal needs, as each individual has a different set of circumstances. LTC is whatever the person needs in order to perform everyday activities.

HOME CARE

Seniors who prefer to live at home and don’t require medical care and supervision can hire help at home. In-home caregivers work several hours a day or live inside the home of patients that need round-the-clock care. Caregivers provide a range services, including companionship, medication reminders, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, bathing, and bathroom assistance.

In some cases, caregivers are also medical professionals who provide light medical care at home, known as skilled nursing services. Provided by home health agencies, these nurses check vitals, coordinate with doctors and run evaluations for health and safety at home. All home care services should be obtained through an agency that has trained, bonded, and insured their employees. You can consult your state’s home care registry to find a match.

Seniors who choose to age at home should consider upgrades to make the place safer and more accessible. Wheelchair users could widen doorways. Those who have trouble standing and walking could install grab bars in the bathroom, remove loose carpeting or rugs and install railings on both sides of stairs. Seniors with impaired vision should add more lighting and easy-to-reach switches.

Another option is to use smart lighting that can be controlled with a mobile device so you don’t have to stumble in the dark to find the switch. It’s “clap on, clap off” for the modern senior.

FACILITY CARE

When home is not an option for the aging senior, aging in a facility can take place at a nursing home or assisted living. Nursing homes involve some degree of medical care, while assisted living is personal care for daily activities and medical administration. For more specific details on assisted living and nursing homes, see this comparison table to find out which one is right for you or your loved one.

Sometimes neither of those two options is right for you. Those who need less care can opt for independent living at a senior community. Alzheimer’s patients living with dementia and memory loss require even more specialized care.

COSTS

Since LTC costs range from $1,500 to $7,000, planning ahead is necessary for most people. While it is invaluable for many seniors, Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care at home or long-term care in a facility. Medicaid can offer some assistance, but only if you’ve depleted most of your assets.

In the absence of disposable income to pay for LTC, you have the option of selling your life insurance policy, a process known as a life settlement. Other retirement funds, such as annuities, can be accessed to help offset the costs of LTC. If there’s time to plan ahead, purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance is a great option to cover you in your time of need. The younger you are when your policy begins, the lower your premium will be.

If you’re in your 50s, now is the time to start thinking about how to care for yourself in the decades to come. Even if you’ve reached the point where LTC is in your near future, there are still ways to pay for it if you look into your assets and pool your resources together. Aging is already a challenging process to experience. Finding and paying for care shouldn’t have to be.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Written by 

Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She's a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

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