Aging Well Partners
- Jan 24
- 3 min
WHY CREATING A LONG TERM CARE PLAN TO AGE WELL PUTS YOU IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?
When families find me it’s usually at a time when they are desperate. A family member has fallen who they care about, or perhaps it’s even themselves. The warning signs that it was time for a change in living conditions had been flashing for a while, only to be ignored. “I’ll stop falling. I can still shop for groceries on my own. I can clean my house. I can manage my own doctor’s appointments and prescriptions. I can easily get to where I need to go.”
Crisis is never the time to start your plan on how to stay at home, move to assisted living, move a loved one to memory care or gulp…figure out how to pay for care. There are many ways to plan and age well; and buying Long Term Care (LTC) insurance is just one excellent option. We buy travel insurance, medical insurance, car insurance, save for college with 529 plans, so why not Long Term Care insurance?
Often the sound bites on buying LTC insurance is about protecting your assets, but what if you don’t really have any assets to protect? I’d say about 55% of my clients have nothing more than their social security and maybe a pension. Too “rich” to qualify for any Medi-Cal/Medicaid programs and not rich enough to afford the type of care they want, or at all. These are the folks that need to buy LTC insurance the most, and it needs to happen when they are still relatively young and healthy (think 40-65 years as the sweet spot). The typical caregiver is a 45-year-old women with a spouse and children, and often working. A LTC policy would take a tremendous burden off this group. They could be be paid by the LTC policy or hire outside help, so as not to disrupt their career and earnings for their family.
A quick review of what LTC insurance is. It’s insurance that will be pay for care in your home, at assisted living, memory care, small residential care homes, and skilled nursing facilities when you can no longer perform two of the six activities of daily living (ADLs): bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, transferring, incontinence; and this must last beyond 90 days. Cognitive diseases that require substantial supervision, regardless if a person can do ADLs, are also covered. This is when LTC insurance pays.
Long Term Care insurance gives you options and control over where and how you age, and takes the burden off loved ones when you need it most, and may not be up to making these decisions any longer. It also protects your assets, provides peace-of-mind, and maximizes time at home as long as possible.
This is an all too familiar story. I had a couple seek my help because they were running out of money. They had been living in an independent living community for about three years. His wife developed a degenerative disease that required more help over year two-and-three, and it really drained their resources. Once the last of their savings ran out they would have just their social security and it was not enough to pay for assisted living for even one of them. They managed to get Maureen get qualified for Medi-Cal (CA)/Medicaid, but in the state of California that doesn’t give you more than a bed (2-3 to a room), and you need to be “sick enough” to secure that bed. Also going to a skilled nursing facility is riddled with its own problems from: neglect, theft of personal properties, poor care, abuse, and more disease. Even if Maureen secured a bed, Ben who was still independent, would not be going with his beloved wife, as only she qualified.
I often see the following: People moving to fancy expensive assisted living communities and spending more than their budget allows for the long term. They don’t take into account how long their money needs to last based on how long they may live, and what types of disease do they have or may develop. That’s the first thing that needs to be assessed when exploring leaving your home. A good expert can help you determine what kind of care you need now, and if currently independent how long before assisted living or memory care may be needed? And while there’s no crystal ball, if people are honest with their true care needs, they have a better chance of making their money last. Hoping that your local government social services will take of you when you need it most is a big gamble, that so far, hasn’t panned out well for most. I truly wish I’d met Ben and Maureen before they made the move to independent living. I would have directed them another direction that would serve then until the end of days. Anyone can achieve this goal with some expert planning. Age Well America.