7 Ways You Can Proactively Plan for Long-Term Care as You Age

Planning for Long-Term Care

None of us has a crystal ball. Illness, injury or disability can occur at any time during our retirement years. Healthcare, legal and financial authorities agree that planning for the long-term care needs of yourself, or an older loved one, is extremely important. Although it might not be the most enjoyable topic to ponder, a well-conceived plan for long-term care can keep you in control of critical decisions and avoid a crisis later in life – one that could be costly and also be in conflict with your or your loved one’s personal preferences and best interests.

Why Experts Say It Is Important to Start Your Plan Now

As aptly stated by the long-term care experts at the Mayo Clinic, “If you're considering long-term care options for yourself, a parent or another loved one, start the research and discussions early. If you wait, an injury or illness might force your hand – leading to a hasty decision that might not be best in the long run.”

Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, concurs. “Planning ahead now for any future long-term care needs enables you to stay ahead of the curve and remain in control of your life. By starting to plan now, you’ll never be at the mercy of the unforeseen changes in health that can occur as we age. Early planning provides you with more choices for care as well as greater options for paying for care that won’t place your or your family’s financial assets at risk.” 

Your 7-Step Guide for Preparing a Customized Long-Term Care Plan

There are a variety of excellent resources you can use to help you organize your long-term care plan. Examples include LongtermCare.gov, Harvard Health and AARP®.

Based on the recommendations of experts, here are seven ways you can plan proactively for long-term care.

  1. Consider your future health needs – According to LongTermCare.gov, recent research suggests that most Americans turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. Therefore, it is prudent to consider your future care needs and begin to organize a plan now. In doing so, you should consider your medical record to date as well as your family history.

  2. Evaluate your options for care – Today, many aging adults want to make sure that they never become a burden on their children. While many families are able to care for a loved one with minimal health needs initially, their needs typically become greater, more time-consuming and more expensive over time – often causing significant disruption and hardship for the well-meaning family members.

    Home care and long-term care in a residential setting are common options. At-home nursing care can become very expensive, especially if it is required on a 24/7 basis. Long-term care, provided at a state-licensed senior living community such as Saunders House, offers the added advantages of three nutritious meals a day, transportation, a nurturing environment, rehabilitation services, a daily calendar of social activities, events and programs, and continuous medical oversight and support.

  3. Location, location, location – Whether you are receiving care for one month or several, the location of your care provider will be a key consideration in your long-term care plan. A place that is easily accessible to your family and friends is always best. This will enable you to remain socially connected and enjoy their visits during your stay, making your experience more pleasant and homelike.

    Therefore, make plans to visit some of the long-term care providers in your area that are conveniently located near your home to get a sense of how they fit your needs and preferences.

  4. Assess your payment options – Understanding the costs of long-term care and the best ways to cover them is also a crucial factor. Generally speaking, Medicare does not pay for extended long-term care, and Medicaid only applies for adults who have limited assets or those who've nearly depleted their assets. As a result, most people use a variety of other options such as personal income and savings, long-term care insurance, life insurance, annuities and reverse mortgages to pay for their care. Always be sure to contact your financial advisor for advice and guidance.

  5. Make appropriate legal decisions – It is recommended that you contact a legal advisor such as an elder law attorney to help you create the legal documents that will assure you stay in charge of arrangements about your care plan and finances. Elder law attorneys specialize in helping you create valuable documents such as a Power of Attorney or Advanced Directives, or “living wills.”

  6. Consider the potential need for memory care – As Americans live longer, there has been a significant increase in the diagnoses ofAlzheimer’s disease and other forms ofdementia.Dementia care and support services are highly specialized and should be considered in any long-term care plan today. As part of its long-term care services, Saunders House offers Care Traditions, a dedicated program of personalized care to meet the unique needs of those with memory loss.

  7. Know what to look for in selecting a long-term care provider – Not all long-term care providers are created equal, so it is smart to consider the things that will be most important to you as you plan. Our article, “9 Key Factors for Choosing the Right Long-Term Care,” provides a checklist and important tips from experts to help you assess the pros and cons of your various care options.

Susan adds, “By following these guidelines and creating a solid plan for long-term care needs, you can ensure that you’ll always be in control of your care decisions while also giving yourself and your family peace of mind about the future.” 

We invite you to stay current on long-term care and other senior care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. In addition, we invite you to take a tour of our community and ask any questions you might have about the long-term care experience.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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