Long-Term Care Overview
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When you can no longer do the everyday things that living requires, you are a candidate for long-term care. You are not alone, however. According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, over 70% of people turning 65 can expect to need long-term care at some point in their lifetime. As part of our estate planning process, Phelps LaClair helps our clients prepare for the possibility of needing long-term care (LTC) in the future.
What qualifies you for LTC?
The long-term need for personal care comes when you can no longer perform everyday tasks on your own. Those tasks include being able to dress yourself, using the bathroom without assistance, feeding yourself, and moving around safely. When you need help to do these simple things, you qualify for long-term care.
Many people require long-term care as a result of medical conditions. Some are temporary, such as recovering from a serious illness like a heart attack or stroke. Some come suddenly and unexpectedly—partial or complete paralysis from illness or accident, for instance. Other conditions come on gradually and are more or less permanent. They may include mental or memory impairment like dementia and Alzheimer’s, or they might be physical disabilities like Parkinson’s or ALS.
Most people who will need long-term care need it because they are getting older. Age is the most common denominator in long-term care facilities. Because our bodies lose bone and muscle mass as we age, it is no surprise that older people are more likely to have frailties that keep them from being fully independent.
The risk of needing long-term care is increased by poor diet and lack of exercise, personal and family health history, marital status and gender. Single women have the highest risk factor due to the fact that they tend to live longer than men and often have no one to take care of them. However, women often are discharged sooner from a LTC facility and thrive in a community-based long-term care program.
What kinds of LTC services are available?
There are three general categories of long-term care.
- Home care
Home care is long-term care that does not require a live-in situation. With home care, the patient is able to remain at home or stay with a family member. The family or a neighbor helps with the simple tasks of dressing, feeding, bathing and running errands. Home care is often used when recovering from surgery or accidents. An occasional visit from a visiting nurse association may be recommended by a physician, and is often a part of this type of service which may last for several months.
- Assisted living
This is the next level of long-term care. In addition to the daily tasks of home care, patients who require assisted living may also need daily help with medication or medical treatment, physical therapy, or intermittent skilled nursing care. Other services may include meal preparation, exercise activities, housekeeping, and laundry. Transportation and recreation are often provided in an assisted living facility.
- Nursing home
The most intensive long-term care involves a nursing home. Nursing home patients require 24/7 medical care and monitoring. They may share a semi-private room where the medical staff can provide care efficiently. The more complex care requirements of these patients often includes daily physical therapy, speech therapy and/or respiratory care.
What are the costs involved?
The costs of LTC escalate with the complexity of the services provided. According to AARP, the average yearly costs are:
Home care – $49,920 for 40 hours of help per week.
Assisted Living Facility – $57,000 for a single bedroom.
Nursing Home – $104,000 for a private room in a Medicare-approved facility.
These costs are expected to double within 20 years as the average age of our population increases and more people need long-term care services.
How do you pay for them?
The Phoenix Valley is known as a major destination for retirees, and many of our friends and neighbors will need long-term care at some point. It is never too early to plan for retirement, and long-term care is a big consideration in that. So is protecting the wealth and assets you have accumulated. The high costs of LTC can quickly drain even substantial estates.
Give us a Call
At Phelps LaClair, we have been designing bulletproof estate plans for 40 years. We can advise you on ways to shelter your wealth while also providing for the possibility of needing LTC in a residential facility. We offer a first time, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss your needs and goals for estate planning that includes LTC. Give us a call to learn more about this important component of your estate plan. We have helped thousands of people like you excel in planning for long-term care.