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What is long term care planning?

After a lifetime of hard work, you’re ready to live out your retirement years doing what you love, but there’s another side to retirement that you have to consider. In addition to making plans to be a mentor, volunteer more, travel the world, or become a yogi, you’ll need to consider long-term health needs. Even if you’re in good health now, you can’t take that for granted. Unfortunately, age is the main risk factor for many diseases, and your future health care needs should be a part of your retirement checklist.

Long-term care planning means more than just buying insurance or updating a will; it means planning for what you’ll need to live independently for as long as possible. This planning process should consider your home, community, access to health care, medical wishes and finances. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly seven in 10 older Americans will need long-term care at some stage of life. It’s important to put a plan in place while you’re healthy, so these important lifestyle decisions aren’t left to someone else.

What is long-term care?
You might be surprised to learn that you'll more than likely need long-term care at some point. The numbers don’t lie. On average, people will need care for three years, however 20 percent of today's older adults will need care for five years or more, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Research from the HHS shows that 70% of adults who survive to age 65 develop severe long-term services and supports (LTSS), and 48% receive some paid care over their lifetime. Many older people with severe LTSS needs rely exclusively on family and unpaid caregivers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services define these LTSS services as care provided in the home, in community-based settings, or in facilities, such as nursing homes.

There’s a wide range of long-term care services to help people live more independently. This type of assistance might mean getting help with the everyday activities of daily living like bathing, dressing or eating, or it might mean getting help with other services like housekeeping, shopping or medication management. There are many different types of care and ways to receive it.

Planning for long-term care.
Many people think the phrase "long-term care" refers to an insurance policy, but the reality is that it encompasses all things. Consider your home and community, access to health care, values and spiritual beliefs, access to physical and wellness activities, and the social aspect of what makes life worth living. It’s important to reflect on these things and to put an overall plan in place that meets your goals and expectations.

The reality is that long-term care planning encompasses everything from long- term health care services and supports, to living arrangements, to finances, to legal matters and to all the social dynamics along the way. Your long-term care planning will be unique to you, and it will be based on your preferences, circumstances and finances.

Long-term care may cost more than you think.
Planning is critical, but many people are not sure what is covered by insurance, and people are often unsure and/or misinformed about what is covered by Medicare. It can get pretty confusing. There are many kinds of long-term care services and supports and a wide range of costs associated with them. While some people may qualify for a public program to help pay for these expenses, other retirees rely on long-term care insurance, personal income and savings, life insurance, annuities and reverse mortgages to pay for long-term care services. It's impossible to predict the cost of your potential care, but it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the financial impact of a few years of long-term care can have. Many older people think government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will pay for all future health needs, but there are restrictions and limitations you will have to navigate.

Long-term care planning checklist
Making health care decisions for yourself or someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to get a clear idea about preferences and arrangements while you can make decisions and participate in legal and financial planning together. The National Institute on Aging provides a checklist to ensure health care and financial arrangements are in place before serious illness or a health care crisis. This includes the following:

  • Start discussions early with your loved one while everyone can still help make decisions.
  • Create documents that communicate health care, financial management, and end of life wishes for yourself and the people you care for, with legal advice as needed.
  • Review plans regularly, and update documents as circumstances change.
  • Put important papers in one place. Make sure a trusted family member or friend knows the location and any instructions.
  • Make copies of health care directives to be placed in all medical files, including information on every doctor seen.
  • Give permission in advance for a doctor or lawyer to talk directly with a caregiver as needed.
  • Reduce anxiety about funeral and burial arrangements by planning ahead.

Peace of mind long-term care planning with Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America®
If you value great planning and the freedom to determine your or a loved one’s own destiny, reach out to the professionals at Topeka Presbyterian Manor. As a part of the Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, we have the resources and team members to serve you on every step of your long-term care planning journey with us. We believe you should enjoy the way you want to live with the security of knowing there is a plan in place should you future needs change. Schedule an appointment to learn more by clicking here, or call us at 785-272-6510.

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