Plan Today for Care You May Need Tomorrow
One in three people who turn 65 will spend some time in a nursing home, and 62 percent of individuals in a nursing home cannot pay their bill on their own because long-term care is very expensive ($70,000 - $120,000/year in Delaware in 2017).
Long-term care means different things in different situations and may refer to help at home or help in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. However, in broad terms, long-term care is required when someone needs help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Those activities include bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed or a chair (transferring) and toileting.
Consider some of the following questions as you start to plan for a time when you might need help every day -- keeping in mind that long-term care not only affects you but also the people around you.
- Who will take care of us when we need help with daily living activities? Can my spouse take care of me? Can I take care of him/her if he/she needs similar help?
- Can family members help us? Do they live close by? Are they physically and financially able to help? Studies show that family caregivers often suffer loss of income and deteriorating health even when they are eager to help a loved one.
- Can we pay for the help and care that we may need?
- If you live alone, you should think about whether you want to continue to live alone.
Keep in mind, that you may need help gradually. Your plan may start with assistance at home and include a move to a program or facility later. Which raises the question of how to pay for long-term care.
Most people pay using a combination of these three options:
- Private pay is when you pay for long-term care using your savings, pension, Social Security and other sources of income. Keep in mind, however, that even if you have set money aside for the future, the cost of long-term care can quickly add up to more then what you have saved. Paying out of pocket is not a viable option for most middle-class Delaware residents.
- Long-term care insurance will cover the cost of long-term care and may cover in-home care, as well. Premiums for this type of insurance are often very high and some policies limit what is covered. So, if you want to purchase long-term care insurance, be sure to consult a qualified insurance professional.
- Medicaid is the third option. The only government program that pays for long-term care, Medicaid is a federal program which is run by each state, so there are federal and state rules to follow. It was designed for low-income individuals with very few assets (money, homes, cars, personal property, etc.) and there are qualifications you must meet to receive assistance from Medicaid. Our next blog will discuss Medicaid misconception and how you can prepare today to qualify in the future.
A qualified elder law attorney can help you understand your options and how to plan now to qualify for the help you may need in the future.
Learn more about Medicaid in our next blog.