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Senior Care: What You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance

Planning for the future can be difficult for many older adults. For some, planning for the long-term means facing mortality and loss of independence, and choosing to deny these things is easier than planning for them. However, at some point in the aging process, older adults will require some long-term support. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone who turned 65 years old in 2020 has a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care in their remaining years. This may mean bringing in additional support in your home or spending some of your later years in a senior living community, assisted living or nursing home. This can be hard to accept; however, denial can keep people from planning for the future, which ultimately leaves them feeling underprepared and overwhelmed.

A lot of older adults fail to think about how they might pay for care, how to keep their home safe, and who will care for them when they need more support in their later years. In addition to denial, planning for the future is difficult for older adults because they may not know what to plan for or how to do it. There’s no way to know exactly what your future may be. There is simply no way to know if you’ll experience a stroke, or cancer, or live until you’re 100. In addition, there’s a common misconception that Medicare, the federal health insurance for adults 65 and older, covers long-term care. The reality is, the longer you wait to plan for the future, the more expensive it can become.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care refers to a wide array of services and systems of support most people will come to need in their later years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the average person who needs help, either at home or somewhere else, will need it for three years on average, but 20 percent need it for at least five. According to the Administration of Community Living, long-term care services do not always refer to medical care, but rather assistance with ADLs, or Activities of Daily Living. These include bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring from a bed or chair, caring for incontinence, and eating. Other long-term care services refer to assistance with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), which include: housework, managing money, taking medication, preparing and cleaning up after meals, shopping for groceries or clothes, using the telephone, caring for pets, or responding to emergency alerts such as fire alarms. Long-term care services are often provided by an unpaid family caregiver (such as a spouse), nurse, home health or home care aide, adult day services, or other long-term care facilities.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Some older adults choose to plan for the future by investing in long-term care insurance. Keep in mind, the younger you plan for long-term care, the less expensive your coverage will be on a monthly basis. Long-term care (LTC) insurance is a policy that covers expenses related to long-term care. Most policies include services like adult day care, hospice, nursing home days, and help at home. According to an investigative article published by Forbes, a private room in a nursing home averages $7,698 per month and can be higher depending on the state and chosen community. LTC insurance can help drastically reduce the cost you pay out of pocket.

Like any insurance coverage, LTC policies have stipulations. Most LTC insurance benefits can only be used when you qualify for the benefit. This often includes needing assistance with at least two ADLs for 90 days, experiencing cognitive impairment, and a recommendation from a medical doctor. In addition, there’s often a waiting period of anywhere from 20 to 100 days before the policy will start to cover your needs. While most long-term care policies cover the most important aspects of long-term care such as nursing home care, hospice, home health aides, respite care, adult day care centers, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, it’s important to do your research before choosing a policy.

Alternatives to Long-Term Care Insurance   

If you wait too long to purchase, long-term care insurance isn’t always an option for some people. However, there are alternatives to long-term care insurance that offer the same or similar benefits. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Hybrid life insurance policies. If you have a life insurance policy, your insurance company may offer hybrid policies. This combines life insurance with long-term care insurance. These policies allow you to use LTC benefits as you age but also guarantee a death benefit to your listed beneficiaries when you pass.
  • Life insurance with a long-term care rider. Some policies allow their policy holders to add on a LTC rider to their existing life insurance. These riders allow you to use money from your death benefit while you’re still living to pay for long-term care expenses. The money you use from this benefit will be subtracted from your death benefit.
  • Continuing care retirement communities. CCRCs are designed to allow their residents to age independently while providing different levels of medical care when needed. Some communities require their residents to purchase long-term care insurance while living in the community, while others do not. Most CCRCs require a lump sum to be admitted into the community but have financial assistance options if funds are depleted down the road.
  • Veterans Affairs health care. If you are a veteran and enrolled in VA health care, you can qualify for long-term care coverage. Many of the services provided by the VA are the same as those provided through long-term care insurance.
  • Critical care or critical illness insurance. These insurance policies offer lump sum payments in the event of cancer, stroke, heart attack, and other serious illnesses. These benefits often last for a set period of time and have lower monthly costs when compared to traditional long-term care insurance.

Living Well at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know aging is expensive. We offer high-quality, comprehensive medical care in an environment that allows our residents to live independently for as long as they can. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour of one of our communities, please contact us.

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Westport, CT 06880

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