Long-term care is when a licensed health practitioner has certified you as “chronically ill.” This can mean two things:
- you’re unable to do at least two activities of daily living (ADL’s) without the help of a personal caregiver or
- you need to be supervised to protect your health and safety because you have a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
Activities of daily living are considered eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (in and out of bed), and continence. A person’s inability to do “ADL’s” is normally due to a loss of functional capacity.
Therefore, do not think of long-term care as a place, such as a nursing home. Rather, you should think of it as a life-changing event that may occur in our later years of life.
Medical care focuses on remedying your medical condition(s). On the other hand, long-term care focuses on helping you live your daily life just the way you are.
Consider this, about 80% of people receiving long-term care services are living at home, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Services are provided by a non-licensed personal caregiver or a licensed health professional, such as a nurse. Now long-term care is also received in other settings besides your home. Here are some examples:
|Examples of Long-term Care Settings:|
|Adult Day Care Facilities|
Assisted Living Facilities
Hospice Care Facilities
Why Is Long-Term Care Planning So Important?
Consider Your Family
With no long-term care plan in place, the burden of care falls on your family when your chronically ill. From my experience, it usually falls on your spouse first & then on your children.
Unfortunately, it starts with your spouse unable to care for you due to their age. Your spouse would begin buckling from the stress of providing care.
What happens next is your children have no choice but to get involved as they see their elderly parent buckling from the stress of providing care for another elderly parent.
It is very important to understand that providing long-term care for a loved one is an all-consuming task. It often-times compromises the emotional and physical well-being of the family.
If your son or daughter is forced to provide care for you, for example, they basically are being forced to put down their own lives. They end up having to put aside their own families, their careers, and their opportunities for you.
In addition, they also put aside future goals, vacation time, etc. to focus on your care. This happens quite often as children tend to feel a sense of commitment and duty to their parents.
From my experience, depression and/or frustration tends to be the end result for the child providing care. In addition, the family is often times torn apart as friction is created between the child who provides care and their siblings who do not assist.
Consider Your Assets and Future Goals
The median cost of long-term care here in America is over $100,000 a year! Long-term care expenses can easily disrupt your financial plans sending you into financial turmoil. Therefore, consider all your different assets that may be depleted paying long-term care expenses:
Checking & Savings Accounts
|Funds For Your Living Expenses|
Funds for a Second Home
College Funds For Grandchildren
Cash Value In Your Life Insurance Policy
Have you ever double booked on your schedule before? For example, have you ever accidentally booked an appointment for the doctor and lunch with a friend for the same time?
- Which appointment would you go to?
- Which would you reschedule?
Chances are you would likely go to the doctors appointment. The doctor’s appointment is more important and more urgent than your lunch date. Well this is the same thing we would do with our money in a long-term care event.
If we had to choose between spending on a joyful retirement or for the ability just to perform activities of daily living, our money would go towards our more important more urgent “appointment:” our long-term care needs.
The cost of long-term care services is not cheap. In addition, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services,the average duration of receiving long-term care services is about 36 months.
Therefore, you can easily compromise your financial security and everything you’ve worked towards by not planning for long-term care.
Consider “Who & What” Are Important to You?
As the provider and protector of your family, as the nurturer, as the person who wants to remain in control of their life, consider your position:
- “Who and what are important to you?”
- “How have your responsibilities to your loved ones changed over the last 10-15 years?”
It is likely that the people that are important to you are those that are the closest, your family. Likewise, your responsibilities to your loved ones really have not changed over the last 10-15 years. Instead, they have grown into a different phase of life.
You once cared for a young family and now you care for an older spouse and children who now have their own lives. Nevertheless, both stages of life requires you to maintain the responsibility of protecting the emotional and physical well-being of your family.
You may be asking yourself, “What can be done to protect my loved ones from the consequences of a long-term care?” If you are interested ways to alleviate the burden of long-term care, I encourage you to read our post “4 Ways To Pay For Long-term Care.”
In it, we discuss four of the most common ways families pay for long-term care services. In addition, we also make recommendations on what the best ways to pay for care based on your situation.
Having a plan to pay for long-term care is the most sensible and strategic way of keeping your commitments to your loved ones. In addition, it helps you maintain your financial goals. It also allows you to stay independent as well as in control of your own life.
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