According to the government’s Department of Health and Human Services, “almost 70% of people over 65 will need some type of Long Term Care (LTC) services in their lifetime.” The current trend is that the number of individuals needing LTC is growing faster than the availability of paid caregivers or space in long term care facilities. As time goes by, perhaps the availability of this type of care will catch up to the need but how can a family prepare for what seems inevitable?
Look ahead: As hard as it may be, now is a great time to think about life with ailing family members. “Many people have to choose an assisted living residence in the midst of a crisis, so they don’t have time to weigh their options. But it’s best if you can prepare before any health crisis forces you to make a quick decision.” (HelpStartsHere.org)
If you are anticipating the need to help a parent or other older family member, you’ll want to envision several scenarios: at home care with family volunteers, at home care with paid assistance and residential facility care. Converse with the family members about such issues can be stressful but doing so before an illness will give you more time to research and plan. Write down what they want and might need, what budgetary boundaries exist, what resources you can lend and what issues you need help providing is an important step in planning.
Next, do your research: Search online, make visitations, ask for referrals from friends and neighbors and if you have access to their primary care physician, chat with him or her about options. If there is Long Term Care insurance, read the policy carefully and ask the insurance company questions. Administration varies tremendously from policy to policy and may dictate some of what you are able to do for your loved one.
Plan: Make decisions on how you want to care for your loved one combining all the information gathered and what seems to be the best way forward but be ready to make modifications to the plan if needs change over time.
Finally, revisit the plan every year or so to make sure you are still on the track you want to be.