What is Long-Term Care?
If you are young and healthy, it’s probably a term you are not familiar with.
That’s because people who need long-term care are oftentimes individuals who have health conditions that require assistance with daily activities
Likely candidates are our aging parents. Facilities that provide long-term care provide services that help with activities related to daily living; bathing, dressing, eating, using the restroom, etc.
Facts Related to Long-Term Care
According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons):
– More than two-thirds of people who are age 65+ will need some long-term care during their lifetime
– The median annual cost of nursing home care is $85,800 for the United States overall
– One in four people now age 65 will face over $50,000 in lifetime out-of pocket long term care expenditures.
– Medicare does not pay for most long-term care services – typically just short-term care in a nursing facility after hospitalization.
Given the probability and the cost, most people who require long-term care end up depending on family or friends for help. What does this mean for you and I? The Sandwich Generation? We could be our parent’s long-term care plan.
To be honest, when I first started thinking about long-term care, it saddened me to think that my parents, who thankfully are able to manage their daily activities today, will one day need help with these types of activities.
In addition, the statistics and the cost scared me – given that my parents are pretty healthy currently, it would be easier to not think about it. However, we all age and when we face the facts, I know it would be irresponsible for me if I didn’t start thinking and planning for it now.
So What Are the Options?
1 - At Home
This is probably the first choice for most people. If they could stay in their home, why not right? Of course, you will need someone who can provide care (family member or a hired professional) and the house has to meet basic physical needs (e.g. easily accessible, no crazy stairs an older person needs to navigate, etc.).
If you were to hire a professional’s help, their services can range from providers who help seniors with low-level assistance to full daily living services such as dressing and bathing.
You could also hire nursing assistants who can provide some degree of medical care if necessary. Professional help, even at home is not cheap though.
According to insurance company Genworth’s 2019 survey on the cost of long-term care, the national average bill for a home health aide is $4,385 a month. Of course you can lower this cost by opting for a part-time assistance instead of full-time.
2 - Assisted Living
For someone who’s home isn’t set up to accommodate an aging person and is relatively healthy, assisted living might be a good option.
Assisted Living Facilities have staff who can provide round-the-clock assistance with daily activities.
But, because it is not a skilled nursing facility, it doesn’t provide 24 hour medical care, but they might have a medical professional like a nurse or nurse’s assistance on site.
Most facilities provide daily activities to help the residents engaged – e.g. painting class, book clubs, ballroom dancing, yoga, etc. Once again, as you can imagine these aren’t cheap
According to Genworth’s 2019 survey, the national Monthly Median Costs for assisted living is $4,051. You can lower costs with a shared room – residents have the option of a private or a semi-private room.
3 - Skilled Nursing
Skilled Nursing Facilities are ideal for someone who requires medical assistance on top of help with their daily activities. They are licensed health care facilities that provide 24-hour medicare care.
If your parent has a medical condition that keeps them from being able to function independently (e.g. dementia, stroke) this might be the best option. The care is much more hands on than an Assisted Living facility and they have medical professionals such as physicians, nurses, and physical therapists on site at all times.
Medicare and Medicaid certify approved nursing homes and you can find more detailed information about choosing the right on at Medicare.gov
As you can imagine, this is the most expensive long-term care option. According to Genworth’s 2019 survey, the national Monthly Median Costs for Nursing Home Facility.
– $7,513 (Semi-Private Room)
– $8,517 (Private Room)
Another good information to know is that though Medicare won’t cover long-duration cost of nursing homes, it will cover a short stay after hospitalization
Most likely our parents will not receive care at only one of the settings discussed, but transition based on his or her need for a level of care with aging.
In conclusion, if this topic makes you uncomfortable don’t worry. This is normal. Who in their right mind wants to imagine their parents not being able to take care of themselves?
However, not thinking about it and planning for it will make things worse – especially down the line. I recommend that as you learn about these different options, you start talking to your parents about long term care
I know, this is probably going to be one of the most awkward and difficult conversations you will have with your parents – probably more difficult than talking about sex
It will be hard initially, but sooner you start talking about it, the more you will be able to plan for it and make things easier for everyone involved down the line.
One other thing as you consider these conversations – remember to be respectful and patient.
Just imagine how uncomfortable it is for us to think about this for our parents. Imagine how much harder it would be for them to think about their own aging and long-term care where they might need to rely on someone else to take care of them.
I know this is a tough topic but what do you guys think?