Long-Term Care: Is It Right for You?

Discussing long-term care with a loved one can be a difficult conversation, but it is also a vital one to have. Here, elder law attorney, Doug Lauenstein discusses long-term care planning, long-term care insurance (LTC) and how to decide what is right for you and your family.

There can be a lot of tension surrounding the subject of long-term care: seniors may feel nervous and burdensome, and family members may feel anxious or frustrated. But it is important that, before making any decisions, your family has a constructive discussion regarding your options.

Long-term care decisions should be discussed gently, with the help of a neutral third-party. Seeking the advice of a physician, close friend, care provider or experienced elder care attorney, can help provide unbiased input into your unique situation. However, when deciding whether long-term care planning is right or not, it is important to always assess the senior’s physical and mental health first and foremost, in addition to considering their personal needs, capabilities and desires.

When a senior is dealing with a physical or mental illness, their primary care physician can help explain what immediate and long-term care they will need. Many hospitals also perform geriatric screenings, which can be good method of obtaining an overall picture of the senior’s physical and mental wellness. If you have concerns or questions about a diagnosis, always get a second opinion.

Besides medical care, many seniors will also need personal assistance with day-to-day activities. It is important to observe your family member closely, and assess their capabilities. Personality and emotional state will also play a huge role in a senior’s personal care. Many seniors wish to maintain as much independence as possible, and would not welcome seemingly major intrusions into their private life, while others are more open to assistance. Whichever the case, make this an important part of the conversation about senior care – a senior’s happiness is a vital aspect to this decision. There are varying levels of long-term care, from in-home help to nursing homes and there many ways to accommodate a senior’s needs and desires.

If you decide that long-term care planning is right for you and your loved one, you may then begin to consider long-term care insurance. Is this investment worth it? For some the answer is yes and for some the answer is no. Insurance companies market long-term care insurance as a safety net against the major costs of staying in a nursing home or care facility for many years. However, the cost may not be worth the benefits, the average stay in a long-term care facility ranges between 18-20 months. However, that is only an average, without a crystal ball it’s difficult to predict whether someone will need long term care in a nursing home at all and if they do need it for how long. Insurance companies now have different plans or what they call products that offer traditional long term care insurance or some hybrid of long term care and life insurance. Thus, with a hefty price tag, long term care insurance is a difficult decision. Many times the long-term care insurance can be used in conjunction with a nursing home asset protection plan.  Your personal finances meaning your net worth is a major consideration for any long-term care plan.

Long-term care does not have to be the daunting conversation it seems to be. There are practical, straight-forward, yet sensitive ways to assess a senior’s need for long-term care. For more information, or to speak with an attorney experienced in elder law and planning, contact Douglas Lauenstein today.