The term “long-term care” refers to assistance or supervision senior citizens and disabled people need when they physically become unable to take care of some basic daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and managing medications.
Long-term care may also be needed due to cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other brain disorders—sometimes bodies are strong and capable but the mind functions at a level that impacts a person’s health and safety.
Keep in mind that the need for long-term care may result from something other than the natural aging process—it can result from an accident, illness, stroke or other chronic conditions.
For some aging seniors, long-term care needs are met via extra support from family members—they may help by delivering meals, providing transportation to medical appointments and helping with household chores.
Some choose to also hire licensed caregivers to help at home when family members are not available. Their services (part-time or full-time) can include medication monitoring, companionship to prevent elder loneliness, safety checks and light housekeeping.
For those with more intensive medical needs, transitioning to a 24-hour skilled nursing facility with staff nurses, physical therapists or other professionals is another option.
How to pay for LTC insurance.
Nursing home and home health care can be expensive, primarily due to high demands for services (think about all those aging Baby Boomers out there) and rising medical costs. It’s important to plan ahead for the expense of long-term care.
Payment options include:
- Self-funding–pay for the cost of caregivers or nursing home living out of pocket with your own money.
- Family–loved ones pitch in to help pay for the expense of long-term care.
- Governmental Assistance–Medicaid can help seniors with limited financial resources pay for some (but not all) long-term care needs.
- Long-term care insurance–designed to protect assets while covering long-term care expenses not covered by traditional healthcare policies.
- Learn the pros and cons of these funding options here.
If you’re considering long-term care insurance options for yourself, a parent or a loved one, start the research and discussions early. There can be age and health restrictions when it comes to purchasing LTC insurance—experts recommend exploring options when people are in their late 40s or early 50s.
Did you know that Washington State participates in a partnership program that allows a long-term care buyer to protect assets in an amount equal to the policy in the event LTC is needed? Read about Washington State Legislature’s Long-Term Care Partnership here.
Insurance companies are becoming more resourceful in providing coverage and offering flexibility in payment plans. Consumers may be able to buy a policy that is paid for by the month, quarter, half year, year, or all at once, up front.
At Take My Hand At-Home Care, we recommend counseling with a long-term care insurance expert before the need for medical or personal care is imminent. Brian Lydiard is a trusted financial advisor in Lynden, WA—he can guide you through the process of protecting assets that you can pass onto loved ones and exploring long-term care payment options like LTC insurance and self-funding.
“LTC coverage is like your car or home owners insurance in that it is coverage you buy hoping never to use, but is there if needed.” Brian Lydiard