How to Determine When Long-term Care Is Needed

It is estimated that roughly 70 percent of people turning 65 will need some type of long-term care service in their lifetime. But needing long-term care is not something strictly determined by age. Instead, the threshold for determining whether a person needs long-term care services is determined by their ability to manage activities of daily living (otherwise known as ADLs).

ADLs are defined as basic activities deemed necessary to carry on living at home independently. They are performed on an everyday basis and typically revolve around basic personal needs.

If you are debating whether a loved one is capable of sufficient self-care, assess their ability to perform the following five ADLs:

  1. Eating: Ability to feed oneself (not including cooking or food preparation)
  2. Dressing: Ability to physically dress and undress oneself, and make sound clothing decisions
  3. Personal hygiene: Ability to care for one’s own bathing, grooming, and oral hygiene
  4. Mobility: Ability to transfer oneself from standing to sitting (and vice versa), as well as walk independently from point A to point B
  5. Continence: Ability to control one’s bladder and bowel functions, and use a toilet without assistance

Without being able to perform these daily functions, a loved one’s quality of life typically declines very rapidly. This can lead to infections, starvation, and even being stranded in one’s own home. Despite common beliefs, a spouse or child may be unable to care for an elder or disabled loved one when the time of need arrives. That’s where long-term care comes along.

The list of ADLs can help determine the need for long-term care and the amount of assistance required. Each state assistance program uses different assessments, but assistance is usually recommended when someone is unable to perform two or more of the ADLs listed above.

The cost of long-term care facilities grew 6.15% following the COVID-19 pandemic, with the median cost settling at $51,600/year. Whether you’re looking out for a loved one or thinking of establishing a safety net for your future self – a long-term care insurance policy can help.

How to Minimize Your Long-Term Care Risk

Watching a loved one struggle with living independently in their old age is hard — being the one struggling must be even harder.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are used as a way of determining a person’s ability to live independently or see if they need help. That help can range from a family member who checks in and runs errands, to a part-time nurse, or even relocating the individual to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

While there is no way to predict whether a person will develop a condition that limits their ability to live independently, modern science has shown that there are things we can do now to help keep us healthy and more active and independent in the future.

Keep Moving

There is no shortage to the benefits associated with exercising. On top of helping you keep unwanted weight, depression, and mobility issues at bay, studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly tend to be at a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment. The American Heart Association suggests a goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week — but it’s always important to talk to a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Eat Right

Much like exercise, maintaining a balanced diet is always a good idea. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can provide you with a natural source of important vitamins and minerals. The foods we eat can also help boost our immune systems, bone health, and more.

Stay Sharp

Like our bodies, our minds require exercise as well. Learning a new skill, visiting a new place, staying on top of current events, and even playing games, can help keep your mind sharp and slow the rate of mental decline.

Plan Ahead

Just as there is no way to accurately single out individuals who will need long-term care in the future, there is also no foolproof way to prevent it. Accidents, lifestyle, and genetics are just a few of the things that ultimately determine how our minds and bodies age.

But planning ahead in the face of uncertainty can help give you valuable peace of mind. As a member of the FCA, you have unique access to licensed long-term care specialists that can help you decide if long-term care insurance is right for you and your family. To learn more or request more information, please visit https://fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/long-term-care/ today.

elderly couple weighing their long term care options at a dining room table

Dispelling 3 Myths of Long-Term Care

How much of our lives do we spend thinking about the future? When we’re kids, we think about what we’re going to be when we grow up, what our first car will be, whether or not we’ll get married or if we’ll have children of our own.

At some point, we stop thinking about the future — usually when it stops being fun to imagine. But this is when thinking about the future becomes the most important.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Long-Term Care

Myth #1: Medicare will pay for it.

No. Medicare will not pay for your long-term care needs. While Medicare is designed to help those over the age of 65 keep on top of their healthcare needs, long-term care is not one of them according to the federal government. And while Medicare Supplemental plans are often touted to cover things that Medicare leaves behind, long-term care is still not one of them.

Myth #2: I won’t need long-term care.

While this may be true for some, according to Longtermcare.gov, if you were to turn 65 today, you would have almost a 70 percent chance of needing some form of long-term care service during your remaining years.

The generation currently facing the greatest growing need for long-term care services are the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomer generation accounts for roughly 78 million Americans, and according to Medicare.gov, it is estimated that 12 million of them will require long-term care services by 2020.

Myth #3: My spouse or kids will take care of me.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, it is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the baby boomer generation “will become divorced or widowed by the time they reach ages 55 to 64,” increasing the likelihood of needing to depend on one’s children to provide care.

However, studies have shown that rates of childlessness continue to rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, new data has shown that the birthrate has hit an all-time low. This statistic may not have as large of an impact on older generations who have more children than it will eventually for younger generations that do not.

Taking Control Of Your Future

According to an article from Forbes, “A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year… That’s an increase of 5.5 from just one year ago and a nearly 50% increase since 2004. A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.”

Assisted living facilities are more affordable but the national average for a private room will still run approximately $45k a year — which is actually proving to be more affordable than in-home health aids ($49,192) and standard homemaker-type services ($47,934), according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Study.

With the yearly cost of long-term care only continuing to rise, long-term care insurance can help both you and your family cover the cost of your care should you need it in the future.

To learn more about long-term care insurance or what other products may be available to you, please visit https://fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/long-term-care/ for more information.

mother and daughter discussing the need for long term care

How To Know When A Loved One Needs Long-Term Care

Studies show that roughly 70 percent of individuals aged 65 or older will require long-term care at some point.

But determining just when a loved one may need long-term care can be difficult both mentally as well as emotionally. To help make things easier, here are some key factors to look for when determining if your loved one could benefit from long-term care:

  1. Recent Accidents

Accidents and medical scares are a key indicator that your loved one may need additional help. Falls, fender-benders or car accidents, mismanaging prescriptions can all be scary and stressful for loved ones, caregivers, and everyone involved.

Has your loved one been suffering more falls lately? If you’re not sure, have you noticed them trying to cover or hide bruises and scrapes?

According to the National Council On Aging, “one in every four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.” While it’s easy to trip and fall for anyone regardless of age, to the elderly, it can be especially painful as well as concerning. Unlike younger individuals, the bodies of seniors are increasingly frail and prone to experiencing more cuts, bruising, bone breaks and fractures. When combined with any pre-existing medical conditions and oftentimes the inability to heal as quickly as they once may have, some falls can even prove fatal.

  1. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Activities

With age, daily activities can be harder to manage. Sometimes referred to as “activities of daily living” or ADLs, these are the daily activities that we often do without thinking— but to an elderly person, these same activities might be more difficult than before. They include:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Medication management
  • Cleaning

If you suspect your loved one is having increased difficulty with any of these things, or perhaps other daily activities that previously gave them no problem (such as managing finances), expressing your concern is important. When in doubt, consulting with a doctor, or geriatric consultant or expert may be able to offer some suggestions on how to make things easier on your loved one or suggest a functional assessment to determine just where your loved one’s skill level may be at.

  1. Personal Care and Hygiene

When your usually-put-together loved one starts to look a bit more unkempt, it may be a sign of more just the average “off-day.” As people get older, they may run into more difficulty dealing with, not just the above mentioned daily activities, but also activities relating to their overall hygiene and personal care.

If you’ve noticed your loved one not quite looking like themselves lately it may be worth mentioning it to them to see what they say. Other changes such as sudden weight gain or loss should also be noted as this could be a sign of over or under eating. This may not be complete accidental as your loved one could be forgetting when they last ate.

Changes in body odor could also be a sign of difficulty bathing, depression, or other health problems that may require medical attention and be a sign of a larger problem.

  1. Signs of Lax Housekeeping

With age can come mobility issues, arthritis, lessening senses of touch, smell, vision, and more. This combined with memory problems can sometimes lead to basic housekeeping issues and may be a sign for a housekeeping to be hired or other long-term care solutions to be explored. Things to look for include:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • Missed bills or payment deadlines
  • Thank you letters from charities not previously given to
  • Bugs
  • Expired food
  • Unnecessary multiples of same food items
  • Bathroom and kitchen grime: toilet, counters, floors, showers, musty towels
  • Wearing the same clothes every time you visit
  • Inappropriate clothing with holes, rips, and tears
  • Piled up miscellaneous clutter
  • Accumulation of takeout or delivery boxes and containers
  1. Animals That Appear Neglected

Does your loved one have a pet? Studies show that elderly individuals who have a pet have a higher quality of living. According to AgingCare.com, “pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn” they can also help to reduce depression (something very common in the elderly) and lessen loneliness.

But what happens when it becomes apparent that your loved one’s faithful furry friend isn’t getting quite the attention it needs? Things to look for that may be an indication your loved may be having problems caring for their pet include:

  • No food or water
  • Potty accidents throughout the house (could be a sign of not going out for walks)
  • Matted fur
  • Changes in weight (could be an indication of not enough or too little food)

If any of the problems are present, it may be worth looking into having someone come to the house and attend to your loved one’s pet or moving your loved one into a facility that will help them care for their animal.

  1. Caregiver Burnout

caregiver daughter concerned for elderly motherCaring for an aging loved one can be a difficult task to undertake and there may come a point where you find that you just can’t do it anymore. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, Caregiver Burnout is real and can happen to anyone who is caring for a loved one and who willingly undertakes additional daily stress. Caring for an elderly loved one is an admirable and noble undertaking but it is equally admirable to able to be able to take a step back and admit when you need help or, admit when you can no longer administer the care and attention that your loved one needs on a daily basis.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, it may be time to look into other Long-Term Care options:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications
  1. Escalating Care Needs

Similar to the above point, there may come a point where you can no longer provide the necessary medical attention that your loved one may require. The progression of chronic or pre-existing health problems, a slow recovery from a previous illness or injury, as well as a sudden onset or worsening of a condition, may also be signs that your loved one may need increased medical assistance.

In cases such as these, it may be worth looking into having a nurse come and check on your loved one periodically or a more drastic measure (depending upon the severity of the condition) may be to move your loved one into a nursing or assisted living facility for long-term care.

Planning For The Future                                                                                      

According to an article from Forbes, “A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year, according to the report, which provides national median figures. That’s an increase of 5.5 from just one year ago and a nearly 50% increase since 2004. A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.”

Assisted living facilities are more affordable but the national average for a private room will still run approximately $45k a year— which is actually proving to be more affordable than in-home health aids ($49,192) and standard homemaker-type services (47,934), according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Study.

With the yearly cost of Long-Term Care only continuing to rise, Long-Term Care insurance can help both you and your family cover the cost of your care should you need it in the future.

To learn more about what Long-Term Care Insurance can do for you, please visit www.fcachiro.memberbenefits.com/long-term-care/ for more information.

To find an aging life care expert in your area, please visit www.aginglifecare.org.

elderly man enjoying visiting with his family

Dispelling 4 Myths of Long-Term Care Insurance

Did you know that 70% of people over 65 will require some care at some point in their lives? Nearly 44% of early and late Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are expected to fall short of meeting their basic financial needs in retirement – that is including their nursing home or home health needs. Based on these statistics it appears that a very large portion of us are entirely unprepared for retirement. Long-term care insurance can help ease the financial and emotional burden on you and your loved ones.

Why is it that so many of us do not purchase long-term care insurance? Let’s dispel the myths!

My life savings will cover it.
Once long-term care is needed, the average American loses their entire life savings within nine months. The average American between the ages of 55 and 64 will have accumulated about $104, 000 in retirement savings. $417,900 is the approximate average cost for 5 years in a skilled nursing home faculty. Many families will struggle with this often unforeseen expense.

I’m too young.
You are never too young. This isn’t something you should look at in your sixties – for most people, the best time to buy may be in their mid-to-late 50s. Applying at a younger age can provide you with the ability to save money and have the best chance of getting approved for coverage. By waiting you risk paying higher premiums, needing to buy more coverage and paying future rates.

It will never happen to me.
Young or old, LTC insurance picks up where your health insurance leaves off. Long-term care insurance is not for only nursing home coverage, the ultimate goal is to help pay for alternatives, to keep you out of nursing homes for as long as possible!

The most common causes for LTC include…   

  • Auto & motorcycle accidents
  • Activities like skiing, horse-back riding, diving
  • Extreme sports: fractures, falls
  • Stroke & heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis & Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer, Parkinson & MS
  • The aging process

It is covered by traditional health insurance or government programs like Medicare.
It is very important to understand the limitations of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare focus’ on cure versus care. It covers doctors, skilled care and hospitals. Medicaid pays health care for the poor. Many are not “eligible” and some must “spend down” their assets to qualify. Medicaid will typically only pay for care in a nursing home. For more in-depth information on long-term care, watch our webinar or visit www.fcachiro.memberbenefits.com to request a quote.

If you have any questions regarding long-term care, our benefits counselors are here to help!

 

Sources
US Census Bureau
Social Security Administration
* 
The National Bureau of Economic Research
*
UCSF Research 
Forbes

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Avoid Financial Pitfalls by Planning for Long-Term Care

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