According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives. You are at risk of losing your life savings if you do not properly prepare your estate before you or a loved one requires some form of long term care. The average yearly skilled nursing home cost in the United States is $77,745 per person per year, and the average nursing home stay in the U.S. is 30 months. Do the math and the cost per person over that time period would average $194,363.
Most people cannot afford that and do not want to be a financial burden on their family as they age. Despite this, a 2010 survey conducted by Genworth Financial showed that nearly 90 percent of retirees had not discussed long-term care issues with their spouse or children.
Long-term care options to be aware of when planning for a situation where you cannot physically or mentally take care of yourself include the following. An important thing to keep in mind is that many of these options are “private pay” or require private pay for an extended period before some type of financial assistance can be accessed.
Home health care: These services are provided in your home. An aide may prepare and serve meals, shop for food, provide transportation, do light housekeeping and assist with personal cares. Other providers may handle your business affairs, pay the bills, etc. These services may be provided by an individual or through an agency. Agencies and nursing staff may also be licensed to administer injections, set up and monitor your medications, change dressings, provide therapy, etc.
Independent and assisted living communities: Independent and assisted living are available in senior communities. Seniors generally live in apartments that may vary from a studio to a three-bedroom unit. Meal plans and a variety of activities are available to residents, which provide an opportunity to be active and socialize. Some communities provide services for assisted living such as personal cares and medication management in the resident’s apartment. Other communities have a separate unit where those needing more care reside. Assisted living is often viewed as a bridge between homebound care and skilled nursing care. As with skilled nursing, residential care homes and memory care, senior communities typically have a medical group who sees residents on a monthly basis if desired. Mobile medical services such as X-rays, lab tests, physical therapy and other services are also available as prescribed by one’s doctor.
Skilled nursing and residential care homes: These options are ideal for patients who require care at a much higher level, and if needed, care around the clock. Skilled nursing facilities have a nurse on staff 24/7. Residential Care Homes have awake staff 24/7 and a nurse on call 24/7.
Memory care: Some senior living communities, residential care homes and skilled nursing homes provide special units for memory care. These residents suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. These specialized units and homes provide a safe environment where those with memory issues can engage in activities that are geared to their specific needs.
MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT
On a related note, reduce your financial risk by ensuring your health insurance and Medicare plan fit your current needs. Medicare’s annual election period (AEP) “open enrollment” occurs every Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 for seniors already enrolled in Medicare. The open enrollment period allows seniors to evaluate their existing prescription drug plan (Part D) to find one that will best suit their needs in the following year. An annual review should be free and dependent on the current prescriptions being taken, how often they are purchased and if purchased retail or by mail. A Medicare licensed agent or broker should be able to help you find the plan that is right for you at no cost.
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.
Ronald Kolb, CMP, can be reached at visit www.Minnesota Medicaid Planners.com or call 952-442-4951. Peter Hallberg, CMP, can be reached at MNHI Network (myquote.mnhi.net) or 952-200-4094.