Proactively Planning for Long-Term Care as You Get Older

There’s no such thing as a crystal ball that can predict the future and warn you of illness, disability, or injury that could occur at any time during your retirement. According to financial, legal, and healthcare authorities, planning for your long-term care needs is vital. ALTCS eligibility and other long-term care decisions might not be the most enjoyable topic to consider. However, it will avoid crises later in life and keep you in control of critical decisions.

If you want to proactively plan for long-term care, there are some things you can do.  

Consider Future Health Needs

The possibility of needing long-term care increases as you get older. Therefore, you should consider your future care needs sooner rather than later and organize a plan now. 

When making plans, take into account your medical record to date along with your family history.  

Read also: Tips on Preparing Financially for Your Senior Years.

Evaluate Care Options

You probably don’t want to be a burden to your children and would like to do everything you can to reduce the risk of this happening. Most families will be able to care for a loved one as long as their needs are minimal, However, a person’s needs typically become greater as the years pass. They will also become more expensive and time-consuming.

Typical options for when this happens include long-term care in a residential setting and home care. If at-home nursing care is required, it can become very expensive, especially when it’s on a 24/7 basis. 

A more affordable option might be long-term care at a state-licensed senior living community. The following will likely be on offer:

  • Three nutritious meals a day
  • Rehabilitation services
  • A nurturing environment
  • Events and programs
  • Daily calendar of social activities
  • Continuous support and medical oversight 

Location is Key

The location of a care provider should be a key consideration, whether you’re looking for short or long-term care. 

Ideally, you want somewhere that’s easily accessible to your family and friends. This will allow you to stay socially connected and enjoy their visits during your stay. 

Take the time to visit some of your local long-term care providers to get a feel for how they fit your preferences and needs. 

Assess Payment Options

It’s important to understand the cost of long-term care and how you might cover it. In general, Medicare doesn’t pay for extended long-term care. Medicaid is only applicable if your assets are limited or you’ve nearly depleted them. 

For this reason, many people end up using a variety of other options that might include:

  • Personal savings and income
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Annuities

You could always approach a financial advisor if you need some advice and guidance. 

Certain legal decisions have to be made as you get older. An elder law attorney should be able to offer advice and help you create the necessary legal documents regarding a care plan and your finances. 

An elder lawyer will specialize in creating valuable legal documents such as living wills, Advanced Directives, Power of Attorney, and your Will. 

Consider the Need for Memory Care

Nowadays, we are living much longer and this has led to a significant increase in the number of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

Dementia care and support services are highly specialized. You should include them as part of your long-term care plan. 

Know What to Look For

Not all long-term care providers offer the same level of care or variety of services. Some of the key factors to look for include:

  • Does the facility provide the services you need?: Will you need help with everyday activities? Is skilled nursing care, speech, occupational, or physical therapy important? Being able to determine your specific care needs will help you find the ideal community. 
  • How close is it to home?: Being close to loved ones will ease the transition to long-term or skilled nursing care. 
  • Does the facility have a license: For a facility to receive Medicaid or Medicare funding, it must be inspected periodically. Check how well they did in a recent state survey. Were any deficiencies rectified? What is the facility’s local reputation? 
  • What level of care is provided?: Is 24/7 nursing care and supervision provided? Are nursing assistants trained in providing help with personal hygiene, bathing, grooming, and dressing? 
  • Are life-enriching activities provided: Ask about the types of activities offered. Recreational activities should be tailored to residents’ needs. They might include pet therapy, painting, music, community outings, worship services, and games. 
  • Meals and snacks: Three meals should be provided along with snacks. The food must be tasty and nutritious. Accommodations must be made for dietary restrictions and preferences
  • Is it a home-like environment?: If you can take personal belongings and furnishings into the community it will make your room feel homier. 
  • Is memory care provided?: Memory care is increasingly important in choosing long-term care. 

Final Thoughts

If you follow the guidelines above you’ll ensure you’re in control of senior care decisions. In addition, you’ll be giving yourself and your loved one’s peace of mind about the future.     

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