As we reach older adulthood, we may begin to struggle with daily activities and chores that used to be second nature. Some people may only need long-term care for a few months, while others may need it for a few years, or longer.
Although long-term care can be provided at home by family and friends, there are other options, too, like community-based services offered by private and public organizations. Planning for long-term care may seem complicated, but whether it’s for you or a loved one, it’s a necessary part of the future.
Long-Term Care Planning Guide
The first step in planning for long-term care is to figure out where you or your loved one would like to live in the future. Many people prefer to stay in their own home, but others prefer a living community, where there are social and health-associated activities, as well as assistance with daily living.
Other living options include:
- Sharing a home with a non-family member
- Adult foster care
- Active adult communities
- Continuing care retirement communities
- Assisted living
- Nursing homes
- Government-supported living
To determine the best place for you, you can start by considering the location, amenities, services, reviews, and recommendations from family and friends.
As you examine your options, consider how you will maintain your health while in long-term care. Whether or not you’re recovering from an injury, staying active has proven benefits for your health:
- Improved sleep
- Increased energy
- Lowered blood sugar
- Reduced risk of many chronic diseases
- Reduced stress
- Improved mobility and flexibility
- Improved stamina and muscle strength
Of course, health concerns can make it difficult for some to stay active as they get older, and it may take some trial and error before finding an activity that is comfortable and enjoyable for you. Check out our post on physical fitness for older adults for simple exercise ideas to help you stay in good health.
Budgeting and Financing
This is one of the most important steps in planning for long-term care. Knowing the cost of your options will allow you to develop financial strategies to help reach your goal.
The national average costs for several long-term care options are as follows:
- $260 a day or $7,908 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home
- $297 a day or $9,034 per month for a private room in a nursing home
- $24 an hour for in-home care services
- $80 per day for services in an adult day health care unit
As for insurance, Medicare does not pay for most, or sometimes any, long-term care costs, and they do not pay for strictly personal care, like bathing, dressing, or toileting. Medicaid is a federal and state program that pays for most long-term care services in the United States. Their coverage varies from state to state. To receive Medicaid coverage, you must first meet certain health, financial, and functional ability criteria to receive their long-term care services.
The Department of Veteran Affairs will cover the costs of some extended care services for veterans. If they meet the VA criteria, all veterans are eligible for community-based and home care services. Other insurances, like private health insurance, disability insurance, and Medicare supplemental insurance will also cover certain expenses, like hospital stays, doctor visits, outpatient services, and many other health-related fees.
Long-Term Care Plan
If you or a loved one is considering long-term care and want to plan ahead, discuss the information stated in the guide above with someone you trust. Here are a few national resources provided by Eldercare Locator (eldercare.acl.gov):
- NIA-Long Term Care
- Advance Care Planning Fact Sheets
- Guide to Long Term Care for Veterans