long term careA recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics states that more than 8 million people used the services of some type of long-term care provider last year.
These numbers aren’t surprising. After all, we live in a word full of technology and medical advancements that enable people to live longer than ever before. A common challenge facing us as we age is that of living independently—remaining in our private homes can be unrealistic for a myriad of reasons. Fragile physical health, lack of proper dietary resources, and difficulty in handling personal finances and daily routines are just some of the issues the come along with living alone.
The challenges of growing older have been met with a growing industry of long-term care facilities and living communities. Although most people associate the words “long-term care” with extended skilled nursing facilities, there are also services like adult day service centers, hospice services and home health care that fall under this category.
Live Long and Prosper
People are living longer, and with longevity come unique challenges in daily living. Even those who have diligently saved for retirement may face a stark reality when faced with the cost of acquiring assistance in their golden years.
Families who notice that their aging parents could use a little help in their activities of daily living (ADLs) are often unprepared for the prohibitive costs of senior care. In many cases, people are under the assumption that they will never need ADL services from a long-term care provider. In other cases, the assumption is that Medicare will step in and cover the costs of an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Fact is, Medicare doesn’t pay for assisted living. Social Security and benefits like VA and retirement plans also won’t cover the outrageous costs of full-time residency.
Most families will have to choose between a substandard Medicaid facility (if they qualify), or will have to liquidate property and pool assets just to make the monthly expenses of assisted living care. Others will bear the responsibility of caring for their elders’ needs; these needs could range from ambulatory and dietary ones to serious neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The High Cost of Golden Years
Good physical health is unfortunately no barrier against illnesses like Alzheimer’s, dementia or age-related memory loss, all of which ultimately require the services of an outside agency. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is, of course, devastating for any family to receive. As the disease progresses, the care a loved one needs will likely extend far beyond the scope of any well-meaning family member. A quality assisted living community can cost around $5,000 per month, while memory care and skilled nursing are even more expensive.
There are any number of age-related conditions or illnesses that could result in a loss of independence. Unfortunately, people without long-term care insurance often find themselves (or their family) unable to pay the cost of extended care.
How Can You Prepare?
Long-term care insurance can be purchased for low monthly premiums and offer you and your family or caregivers the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will be cared for if the need for long-term care becomes necessary. You can choose from a variety of plans with different coverage options, and are sure to find one that will fit both your budget and your needs. Contact Personal Advisor Robin Frank, our long-term care specialist, for details by following this link.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.