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Aging, Loved Ones and Long-Term Care Decisions


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Aging, Loved Ones and Long-Term Care Decisions


What does the future hold for you and your loved ones?  Will you be tending a relative whose health is declining?  Or, will you require long-term care assistance down the road?  It’s important to make provisions so you and those you care about are prepared, no matter what happens later in life.


Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care.  Many people are surprised to find Medicare and Medicaid actually provide little coverage toward assisted living or nursing home costs.  Forbes points out seniors must first meet certain eligibility requirements before they receive benefits.  One of the toughest hurdles for many is financial eligibility, since seniors can have minimal assets before Medicaid kicks in.  


Medicare only covers nursing home care for those 65 or older, for a limited amount of time and under particular circumstances.  As a result, many seniors resort to options such as reverse mortgages to pay for long-term care.  A reverse mortgage is a viable option, but one should weigh the pros and cons carefully before going that route.  The decision can impact one’s estate, as well as others living in the residence.  Ideally, seniors should discuss their options with a financial counselor.


What costs are involved?  Long-term care is expensive.  As 6ABC explains, the median cost for one year in a nursing home is $82,000.  If you have long-term care insurance it can help cover costs.  Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to pay expenses associated with long-term care.  However, premiums tend to be costly, especially for those who wait to purchase policies until later in life.  


Plan and prevent.  By planning ahead, some people are able to find lower-cost care or other solutions to long-term care needs.  For instance, one way to cut long-term care costs is by living in an area where the average costs for care are normally low.  You would need to do some research, but some parts of the country are simply less expensive than others.  Also, keeping good tabs on older relatives or those with waning health can help avoid financial crises.  By intervening as soon as you notice symptoms, you can sometimes forestall a catastrophe.  


Adult day care is another option many families find useful, since it is relatively inexpensive, reasonably comprehensive, and provides assistance for the bulk of the workweek.  


What are other options?  There are numerous options for covering the costs of long-term care.  Most are dependent on your individual circumstances.  Here are some potential solutions:  


Veterans benefits.  If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, the Veterans Administration offers coverage of long-term care.  


Emergency savings.  If you’re planning ahead, one solution to long-term care needs is to set up an emergency savings fund.  As a rule of thumb, this savings should total one year of living expenses per person in the household.  


Immediate annuity.  An immediate annuity is an alternative method for covering long-term care expenses.  It provides a steady influx of funds following a lump-sum payment to your insurer.  Amounts paid out vary in accordance with how much you paid, your age, gender and health status.


Hybrid life insurance.  Hybrid life insurance policies combine long-term care insurance with life insurance.  Basically, you pay a substantial lump sum that will either go toward long-term care or a death benefit.  You then pull funds from the lump sum to cover long-term care should a need arise.


Short-term care insurance.  Short-term care insurance policies cover the same situations as long-term care policies.  However, they pay a benefit for a shorter period of time.  Usually these plans cover care for three months up to 360 days.  


Care solutions and strategies.  Long-term care can seem complicated, and you want to make good choices for yourself and for your loved ones.  Examine your situation carefully and weigh your options.  With a good plan in place, you and those you love can face the future with confidence.  


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