Long-term Care Planning for Older Americans

The best time to plan for long-term care is when you are mentally and physically well. While it is a task often avoided, thinking about how you wish to be cared for when you become older or are suffering from an illness or incapacitation is important for you and your loved ones. The only way to ensure that your wishes are followed is to write them down and communicate them to others.

People live longer these days even with serious illnesses and various stages of incapacity. There are steps you should take to plan for any potential future period of incapacitation to protect your finances and the ability for your family or loved ones to afford to care for you as you get older and in need of assistance to care for yourself. A catastrophic accident or medical emergency may alter the course of your life forever. Once these acts occur, you may or may not be in the position to make decisions for yourself. Having a plan will help your family and you focus on healing and living again.

To guide your thoughts, begin by thinking about the answers to the following questions:

  •        If you are unable to make decisions about your finances, who should make them for you?
  •        If you are unable to make decisions about your medical care and treatment, who should make them for you?
  •        How much money do you need to maintain your current lifestyle?
  •        How much money do you need for someone else to care for you?
  •        If you could no longer afford to live in your current state, where else would you consider living?
  •        Are there any government programs, like Medicare or Medicaid, that can help me or my family pay for long-term care?

For more context consider the cost of long-term care now. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the following statistics:

  •        $225 a day or $6,844 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home;
  •        $253 a day or $7,698 per month for a private room in a nursing home.
  •        $119 a day or $3,628 per month for care in a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility.
  •        $20.50 an hour for a health aide.
  •        $20 an hour for companion or person who runs errands services.
  •        $68 per day for services in an adult day health care center.

Bear in mind that the above-referenced figures are the national average not what it costs in your state. Depending on where you live, the average cost for long-term care may increase or decrease. Factors that contribute to the cost of long-term care is the duration of care and time of day – employing a health aide overnight or on holidays and weekends may be more expensive than someone during the week and an 8AM to 6PM shift.

Nowadays, many care facilities are lifestyle oriented. Individuals that can still care for themselves but must monitor a chronic condition may choose to live in an assisted living facility for active individuals over 55 years old. There is a clubhouse, golf courses, tennis courts, and swimming pools that keep the residents busy and happy while medical staff monitors progress of disease and provides emergency assistance, when needed.

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