Aging seniors and their family often become overwhelmed by the number of issues they face as their health declines and they lose their ability to remain independent. Losing independence generally happens gradually, but it can happen quickly without warning.
As health declines, seniors may need assistance maintaining their household, preparing meals, shopping, paying bills, visiting doctors and managing medications. Usually, these needs are met by the spouse, adult children or close friends. More than 65 million people in the United States provide help for free to an aging family member or friend and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing assistance.
The need for long term care beyond what is discussed above will happen to 3 of every 5 people. Accident, illness, dementia, stroke, depression, disease or frailty will cause the aged to require personal care from skilled and trained staff. Long term care refers to a broad range of medical, personal and social services for people who are unable to provide for their own needs for an extended period of time. Approximately 15 million people over the age of 65 are currently receiving various types of formal care from nursing communities, assisted living or home care services. Formal care services are projected to be used by over 25 million people by 2050.
Lack of Planning for Long Term Care
Many seniors and their family members go into crisis mode struggling to find funds, services and ways to preserve assets for loved ones who need long term care when the time comes. Mainly because of the sticker shock on the cost of long term care. For example, the national average median cost for one year in a private nursing home room is $74,208. When statistics say 70% of people will need long term care, it’s amazing that less than 1/3 of Americans over the age of 50 have begun saving for the future costs of long term care and only 8 million Americans own private long-term care insurance.
Funding long term care and understanding the resources available to help is invaluable to the family or spouse. Without preparation, long term care can wipe out a lifetime of savings and destroy equity in a home. People generally think of five basic ways to pay for long term care: out-of-pocket, private long term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or VA Benefits for veterans.
According to the National Care Planning Council (NCPC), only around 16% of long term care services are covered by Government programs. The other 84% are provided free of charge by family caregivers or provided by services paid for by long term care insurance or out-of-pocket by family members. The bulk of Government care services are provided only after a person has depleted all of his or her savings.
If you need some assistance in planning for the future long term care for a loved one, the National Care Planning Council has an online resource created for the purpose of helping aging seniors and their family members address and fund these difficult issues. The online guide is called Guide to Long Term Care Planning and can be found on the NCPC website at www.longtermcarelink.net.