This November, Long-Term Care Awareness Month, we want to highlight the importance of Long-Term Care, and offer some context and information so you can be best prepared to age gracefully – where, and as you wish.
Long-Term Care (LTC) describes and includes a variety of services needed when an individual can no longer independently manage the activities of daily living (ADLs): Bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (moving to and from a bed or a chair), eating, and continence. A majority of long-term care, especially personal care or help with the ADLs, is administered informally by unpaid family members or friends; Medicare and most employer insurance plans do not cover LTC and only 18% of people have Long-Term Care Insurance. Traditional Long-Term Care insurance is out of reach for most, due to high premiums and lack of affordability, especially because these costs typically come at a time when adults are working hard to save money for retirement. While Medicaid does cover Long-Term Care services, there still exists a large portion of the U.S. population who are not Medicaid eligible, and cannot afford the thousands of dollars per year needed to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance plan. And, even if Medicaid would cover your long-term care needs, the options and services can be very limited.
Long-term care is most commonly provided in the home, as this is preferential for most; however, it can also include services administered in a nursing home, adult day care center, or another institution for adults. The amount of time for which LTC is needed varies based on need. For example, after an accident, one may need care for just a short period to support recovery; while someone facing cognitive decline due to dementia or other factors, may need more permanent care to help when the ADLs are no longer manageable.
Some factors to consider in making a plan for your own Long-Term Care include your family and health history, marital status and ability of a partner or loved one to help with your future care, and age – the older you are, the more important it is to understand your options and to have a plan. If you find you may not be able to afford the out-of-pocket costs of Long-Term Care, an insurance plan could be a smart choice in preparing for the care you will eventually need. And make sure you understand your options and associated costs. If traditional LTC Insurance is out of budget, you can look into short-term options, like Home Care Secure, which is offered through your Aging at Home Association membership and can provide you with a plan, cash payments, and peace of mind when you need it most.