The NCPC publishes periodic articles under the title "Planning for Eldercare". Each article is written to help families recognize the need for long term care planning and to help implement that planning. All elderly people, regardless of current health, should have a long term care plan. Learn More...
From its inception, the goal of the National Care Planning Council has been to educate the public on the importance of planning for long term care. With that goal in mind, we have created the largest and most comprehensive source of long term care planning material available anywhere. This material -- "Guide to Long Term Care Planning" -- is free to the public for downloading and printing on all of our web sites. Learn More...
Here are the planning points necessary to address the challenges and burdens for aging seniors in their final years. The application of Life Resource Planning is to help you solve the problems that you may be dealing with and to give you some input for programs, services or strategies that will help relieve some of the challenges that you are facing
Let's briefly review each of these planning considerations.
Just like everyone else, seniors have extraordinary out-of-pocket costs such as major maintenance and repair to a home, replacement of aging appliances and furniture, repair and replacement of automobiles, increasing utility costs, soaring medical costs and so forth. Unfortunately, because older individuals are usually on a fixed income, they must dip into savings to cover extraordinary costs. Many never went into their senior years with adequate savings while with others, because of longer life spans, what should have been adequate being eaten up quickly. There are strategies to deal with dwindling savings and shrinking assets.
The income of senior citizens who are receiving retirement payments is not keeping pace with inflation. Particularly, the soaring cost of medical care. Because of inadequate savings, many seniors are turning to debt to augment their incomes. In addition, many seniors make poor buying choices or are taken advantage of by conmen or greedy repair people. This also eats into income. There are several solutions to help with lagging income and growing debt for aging seniors. One elegant solution that is available to seniors who own homes is a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages are typically used to pay off the debt and to create additional income. A reverse mortgage does not incur debt payments while the mortgagee is alive.
Many elderly individuals have sufficient assets and income to maintain the lifestyle they desire. Unfortunately, the cost of long-term care to include expensive assisted living, expensive home care services or nursing homes can quickly wipe out a substantial nest egg. It galls most aging seniors to have carefully set aside money for years only to have it dissipated quickly for long term care services.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that there is no reason that old age must result in poor health. Seniors who remain active and positive and maintain healthy lifestyles do not have to be burdened with health problems that afflict most seniors. The majority of seniors either suffer from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or diabetes or a combination of all three. These three conditions can be avoided through healthy living.
Older years do not have to be devoted to watching television, playing golf, traveling, or otherwise engaging in full-time leisure activities. Older seniors who maintain a positive attitude, who exercise regularly, who are employed because they want to be, or who are engaged in worthwhile activities, who maintain proper nutrition and hydration and who maintain proper weight, can slow down the onset of or even avoid many of the problems associated with aging. This might include avoidance of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, weakness, disability and many health conditions that plague the elderly.
Active seniors who have a home, often do not want to be tied to the home maintenance or upkeep of the yard. They seek out retirement communities in warmer geographic areas where they do not have to worry about maintaining a home and can have the freedom to travel or do other things without being tied down. Other seniors who will are losing their independence, who have little income and assets, or whose health is deteriorating may want to find ways to remain in their home as they feel comfortable in that setting. Other seniors because of disability or health cannot remain in their homes and must look to community settings that provide long term care support. Life Resource Planning can help find the best living arrangement for you or your loved ones.
Most seniors are not aware of government aging services such as area agencies on aging, senior centers or nutrition programs. In addition, there are scores of programs available for seniors with rural grants for housing, housing subsidies, utilities subsidies, food stamps, care training and support and a whole array of other services to support elders who want to remain living in the community. Life Resource Planning can uncover these services and can provide you appropriate counseling.
It is a fact that very few people plan for the need for long term care. Estimates are that 60% to 80% of aging seniors will eventually need long term care. This type of care is provided a disabled, frail or sick aging senior who cannot provide for himself or herself. It might include help with bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, getting out of bed or with supervision because of dementia. In addition, many seniors require help with shopping, cooking meals, cleaning, paying bills, doing laundry and a whole host of other household support services. This type of care is often provided by informal caregivers such as members of the family or friends. Where this informal support is not possible, professional caregivers need to be hired or a care setting needs to be chosen in a community where these services can be received. Professional long term care can become very expensive. Life Resource Planning can assist with this challenging time of life.
Elderly people generally prefer to remain in a home environment when they have the need for long term care. Family members or friends will accommodate this need on their own time as much as they can. Caregivers at home can become so burdened down with caregiving tasks that they become overloaded. Or, they may be incapable of providing the care that is needed but won't admit that they cannot handle it. Without the proper training and guidance, family or friends who provide care may be failing and both the care recipient and the caregiver could be suffering from undue stress and the poor health brought on by this stress. If you are in such a situation, Life Resource Planning Can find experts who have been down this road many, many times and know what to do.
Informal family caregivers are often thrust into their roles without prior warning and without prior training or guidance. The need for care for a loved one often comes as an unexpected surprise due to the consequences of a fall, sudden change in health or the discovery that the loved one is not coping and can no longer remain independent. It is so common that the role of caregiver falls on one individual in the family and other members of the family are more than happy to avoid the responsibility. This is not a fair situation. This arrangement also breeds suspicion and feelings of resentment among family members. A solution is to bring the family together and to devise a family care plan where inheritances are worked out prior to death, misunderstandings are resolved, caregiving loads and other responsibilities are shared and members take the loved one in temporarily on a scheduled basis to give some rest and relaxation to the primary caregiver. The care plan should also be written down as a caregiving agreement and if possible all members who are participating in the care plan should sign it. A competent Life Resource Planner can help you put together a family care plan and agreement.
Contrary to what most people believe, Medicare only provides temporary long term care services for home care or in nursing homes. Medicare will not pay for assisted living or independent living. Medicaid is the program that will provide care services in a nursing home, in assisted living or to a certain extent at home. Unfortunately, qualification for Medicaid requires that the recipient must be impoverished. A Medicaid applicant with too many assets must spend all of his or her portion of those assets down to less than a few thousand dollars. This is not fair that individuals who were prudent and saved money should be punished whereas those who were not prudent and have nothing are rewarded with care services. Appropriate planning can be done to preserve assets without spending them for care. The assets can be preserved and you can still receive Medicaid services. Life Resource Planning can help you with reserving assets from Medicaid.
Approximately 18% of all seniors over 65 are veterans or the spouses of veterans. For certain veterans who served during a period of war, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a little-known program that will provide additional income up to $2,500 a month to cover the cost of long term care. Other long term care services are state veterans homes. All states have veterans homes for their senior veterans who need care services and sometimes for their spouses. These homes cost significantly less than private-pay nursing homes. A Life Resource Planner can help you find and apply for these services.
Many older veterans can also qualify for disability benefits or increase their disability benefits with some assistance from experts who know how to do this. Veterans health care is a valuable program for veterans who are receiving disability or pension and is virtually free of charge except for inexpensive co-pays for prescription drugs. Death benefits are available to certain surviving spouses of veterans and burial benefits are available for all veterans with the most generous for those who died because of service-connected disability. A Life Resource Planner direct you to the appropriate services if you need help.
Long term care insurance is often the ideal solution for covering the cost of long term care. Unfortunately, companies who sell this product are very particular and will generally not sell it to individuals in their beyond age 60 unless they are in extremely good health. Even at that, the premiums for these older ages are extremely expensive. Long term care insurance is best bought when one is in his or her late 40s or early 50s. Over a lifetime, the cumulative cost is no more than if it were bought in later years. Many seniors have turned to short term care insurance as an alternative to the long term care version. It is not a replacement for this type of insurance, but it can cover care costs for up to a year and in many cases this is all that is needed. Short term care insurance is also much easier to get at older ages and is about a third the cost of long term care insurance. If you are interested in either of these products, we can find experts who will help you in this area.
Seniors or their families are generally pretty good about putting together legal documents for estate planning and for the final years of life. If these documents have not been reviewed within the last three years, a review should be conducted. If appropriate documents have not been created, now is the time to do so. Some of the documents such as powers of attorney may not have been set up properly. Key provisions are often lacking or it is the wrong kind of attorney power. Likewise with medical directives and living wills. Improper design can cause problems when the time to use the authority in the documents comes along. Wills may also not be set up properly or produce their desired results now as opposed to when they were created. All accounts with beneficiaries should be checked to make sure they are up-to-date. For the type of planning associated with Medicaid, special legal documents are usually required. Medicaid planning to preserve assets is not a do-it-yourself activity. Finally, attention should be given to tax planning for large estates. The Life Resource Planning process can put you in touch with attorneys who specialize in this kind of law.
Planning for end-of-life not only includes making arrangements for funerals and burials and possibly prepaying and preplanning for these arrangements, but also has to do with decisions about dying and the process leading up to death. Most people don't want to deal with these issues, but great satisfaction can be had by the rest of the family if the death occurs in a proper setting. We can provide experts who can help counsel on the proper way to set up funeral pre-plans to incorporate Medicaid planning so as not to lose the money to Medicaid that is set aside for final arrangements.