Preparing, paying for long-term care for loved ones

Published 5:46 pm Saturday, July 16, 2016

Aging is a fact that many of us don’t consider until it is upon us or a love-one, but aging is a natural part of life. As you or your love ones’ age, one of the questions that need to be addressed is “what will we do about long-term care?” Our family recently faced this question when my mother in-law became ill.

So, exactly what is long term care? There are many different services that would fall under the definition of long term care. These services include institutional care in nursing facilities or non-institutional care such as home health care, personal care, adult day care, long term home health care, respite care and hospice care.

Nursing homes in our state are licensed under the Public Health Law and regulated by the state. This is one of the most common options and usually this is what we think of first, when discussing long term.

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Home health care consists of services received in your home, and can include skilled nursing care, speech, physical or occupational therapy or home health aide services.

Home care (personal care) consists of assistance with personal hygiene, dressing or feeding, nutritional or support functions and health-related tasks.

Adult day care can provide supervision and other social, recreational, and in some cases, health services during the day, in a group setting outside the home, for elderly persons who still live at home.

Assisted living facilities provide housing and ongoing care and services to those unable to perform activities of daily living or who have a cognitive impairment.

An alternate level of care is care received as a hospital inpatient when there is no medical necessity for being in the hospital and is for those persons waiting to be placed in a nursing home or while arrangements are being made for home care.

Respite care is temporary institutional or at home care of a dependent elderly, ill or handicapped person, providing relief for their usual caregivers.

Hospice care is a program of care and treatment, either in a hospice care facility or in the home, for persons who are terminally ill and have a life expectancy of six months or less.

You may be wondering if you will need long term care. The chances of needing some type of long term care services is high. It is estimated that over 40 percent of all persons who were 65 years old in 2015 will enter a nursing home during their lifetimes. Also, it is estimated that as our population age and since we are living longer, a person will need long term care for a longer period of time.

Long term care is expensivee — according to the 2015 Genworth Financial cost of care survey, the average cost of skilled nursing in Alabama is $5,810 per month. So how will you pay for long term care? Here are some options to consider:

Are you eligible for Medicaid? If so, Medicaid will pay your long term care expenses.

You can purchase an insurance policy that will cover long term care service. All long term care policies are medically underwritten, (i.e., your physical/mental condition and health history will be evaluated) so, if you intend to purchase a policy, don’t wait until you have a medical condition that could make long term care coverage more expensive or unavailable.

When purchasing a policy, in most cases the premium for a policy will be lower when purchased at a younger age.

Also, insurance policies covering long term care services are only offered at certain ages.

4You can use your savings and pay out-of-pocket for long term care expenses, but remember it very costly.