As adults, watching our parents age can be difficult, and it’s never easy to contemplate long-term care needs. We don’t want to think of our parents as sick, feeble, or helpless, but planning for LTCis a reality many of us will face at some point in our lives.
There are ways, however, to plan and consider the long-term care needs of your parents. With some research and frank discussions, you can better prepare for helping your parents if the time comes.
Will Either of Your Parents Need Long-Term Care?
HealthAffairs asserts that around 12 million people in theUS need long-term care in some capacity. With life expectancy increasing and a rapidly expanding aging population, that number will only increase with each passing year.
Females tend to need LTC longer, which is not surprising considering the average life expectancy for a woman is over five years longer than a man. However, long-term care needs will vary from person to person and largely depend on your parent’s existing health and lifestyle.
When trying to assess the likelihood of your parent needing long-term care, ask:
- What hereditary illnesses and conditions do your parents have a chance of developing? Are they open to predictive and pre-symptomatic genetic testing to find out?
- The most cost-effective long-term care is going to be home-based. Do your parents own their home? If they do, are there home modifications you can make to facilitate aging in place?
- What lifestyle changes can your parents make to reduce their risk of illness and/or injury? How they eat, sleep, exercise, socialize, and generally conduct their day-to-day schedule can ave a big impact on their physical and mental health.
Where do they want to live if the time comes for them to move into long-term care? To ensure they are involved in the choice, use online resources to determine some ideal locations and amenities.Then, tour several local skilled care communities to see in person whether a community’s ambience and services fit your parent’s health and lifestyle needs.
Paying for LTC
Anyone familiar with health care costs in theUnited States can guess that long-term care costs can end up being astronomical. According to the Huffington Post, depending on the type of services needed, the cost of comprehensive long-term care can range from $5,000-$10,000 per month. While Medicare covers many of a senior’s health care needs, it does not cover these expenses.
Instead of saving up enough cash to pay for your parent’s long-term care needs, it may be easier to invest in a long-term care insurance program. Many options will cover costs while providing a variety of options and flexibility when it comes to types of care. Long-term care insurance can be expensive, but the earlier your parents apply (and the healthier they are) the cheaper it will be.
If it is too late to buy long-term care insurance and your parents own their home, talk to them about a reverse mortgage. Although a reverse mortgage might have its strengths and weaknesses, it will basically leverage your parent’s property in exchange for a lump sum, monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination of all three.
A person can get a reverse mortgage even when their credit score isn’t quite up to par, and they don’t have to make payments going forward. You will have a year to pay off the loan in the event that a parent passes on. Most children choose to sell the property.
Parents can elicit a lot of feelings on the matter, but everyone needs someone to look after their best interests as the aging process goes on. If you find yourself in charge of your parent’s possible long-term care needs, reach out to friends and family for support while you plan — it makes a world of difference. It’s just as important for you as a caregiver to take care of yourself through intelligent planning as it is for you to be there for your parents, after all.