Most surveys show that the majority of Americans do not plan for the devastating crisis of needing long term care. This lack of planning usually has an adverse effect on the family with sacrifices made in time, money family lifestyles and even affecting the family’s medical and emotional health.
Because of changing demographics and potential changes in government funding, more than ever the current generation need to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.
What is Long Term Care?
The need for long term care arises when an individual requires assistance with medical care, daily living activities, comfort, supervision or advice. The elderly person may need help with the ability to move about, dress, bathe, eat, medicate, etc. There is no one single source to help family members find services or solve problems with a simple phone call. For this reason, planning for future long term care is important. Because it can happen suddenly, at any time, you must take action now to prepare for the day when you will need to deal with eldercare for your loved ones or for yourself. There are many things to consider however, here are the top 4 steps for long term care planning.
Step 1 – Understand the Nature of Care, Care Settings and Government Programs
There are many different living arrangements for elderly persons and 4 different settings under which care is provided. Care setting can include Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Home Assistance among others. It is also important to understand the limitations of government programs because the public generally has a misconception that the government will step in and provide care when the time is needed. The truth is, Government programs are limited and according to research by the National Care Planning Council, only 16% off all long term care services are provided by government programs. The other 84% is provided by family members, friends, charity, church groups or paid for by private funds.
Step 2 – Funding the Cost of Long Term Care
Having the funds to pay for care greatly expands the choices for care settings and providers. However, there is an emphasis being placed on purchasing long term care insurance or arranging for reverse mortgages in order to fund the cost of care. However, after 30 years of being touted as the solution, less than 2% of the American public and only 9% of seniors own long term care insurance policies. As for reverse mortgages, it may sound like a good strategy but in practice, few seniors are using them to pay for care.
Step 3 – Using Long Term Care Professionals
Using professional help relieves stress, reduces stress, reduces conflict and saves time and money. Those people who need help with long term care and use the services of professionals often find they save money over doing it themselves. They also reduce their stress and free up a considerable amount of personal time. Another benefit with using professional help, such as a care manager or elder law attorney can help alleviate or avoid family conflicts that often arise as a result of caregiving. Hiring professional advisers to help with long term care is no different than using professionals to help with other complex issues such as car repairs, dealing with taxes or dealing with legal issues.
Step 4 – Creating a Personal Care Plan
The first three steps in the planning process are designed to give you a wealth of information about long term care. It is important for you to have an understanding of care systems and the resources you can turn to when needed. However, you must take some action now to prepare for the day when you will need to deal with eldercare for your loved ones or for yourself.
The final fourth step in the planning process will help you make a care plan. If you prepare a written plan for you or a loved one, the challenge of dealing with long term care will unfold for you in a more manageable manner. You will experience less stress, have fewer costs, require less time and have fewer conflicts.