Embracing the golden years with confidence and grace begins with a well-crafted plan for the future. Long-term care planning is not just a practical step; it’s an empowering journey that ensures your senior years are lived with dignity and independence. By being proactive and forming a care plan early on seniors can secure their well-being and peace of mind, knowing that their future needs will be met.
What Does Long Term Care Planning Encompass?
It can be hard to envision encapsulate all your future needs inside a plan, but generally long term care planning includes the following:
Financing Lifestyle & Care
Having an idea of your budget and what care options you can afford will help in road mapping your future. Evaluate your current health needs and think about how these needs will shift as you age. You should also analyze your lifestyle looking at what aspects of life bring you most joy and what it would take to maintain these elements in the future.
Investigating Home Based Care & Senior Living Communities
For many seniors staying in their home is the preference. It’s important to take the time to see what resources are available for at home care, and what it would take to make your home safe and accessible as you age. It is also recommended that you investigate continuing care retirement communities and weigh the pros and cons of aging in place versus joining a community. Both options can provide independence and fulfillment and it doesn’t have to be an either or, instead serving together as a longer term plan that grows and flexes as your care needs change.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance (LTCi) is a financial arrangement that pays benefits when you become sick and disabled. These plans cover services that traditional health insurance doesn’t. The level of care and cost depends upon the agreement. There are also other plans like LiveWell by Blakeford that offer similar levels of coverage without the typical lockout period seen in LTCi.
Legal Documents & Considerations
Navigating the legalities of long-term care is crucial for seniors to secure their desires and assets. They can appoint reliable decision-makers and craft precise estate plans for a smooth legacy transition and tax benefits. Knowledge of Medicaid rules, especially the lookback period, is key to strategically funding care while avoiding fines. With careful planning, seniors can ensure their future well-being and estate protection. Here are some things to consider:
There are two advance directives that should be filled out as soon as possible and updated as you age to align with your desires.
A living will specifies acceptable medical treatments if you’re incapacitated during a medical emergency. It focuses on terminal conditions where recovery is improbable, outlining comfort and life-extending measures without expecting a cure. Beyond terminal illness, it addresses general care preferences, including painkillers, antibiotics, IVs, blood transfusions, and other treatments that may conflict with personal beliefs.
Medical Power of Attorney
This document designates who is able to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to during a time of need.
Understanding Conservatorship and Guardianship
Conservatorship, often established through a court order, grants a responsible person or entity the authority to manage the financial affairs of an elder who is no longer able to do so themselves. This legal arrangement ensures that the senior’s assets are used prudently, providing financial security and peace of mind.
Guardianship, on the other hand, extends beyond fiscal oversight. A guardian is tasked with making a broad range of life decisions on behalf of the senior, encompassing health care, living arrangements, and even social interactions. This role is particularly vital when a senior faces significant health challenges that impede their ability to make informed decisions.
Both roles carry immense responsibility and require a thorough understanding of the senior’s wishes and best interests. By choosing a trusted individual or organization to serve in these capacities, seniors can rest assured that their well-being will be meticulously looked after.
Financing Long-Term Care
Navigating the complexities of paying for long-term care requires a strategic approach, balancing personal savings, insurance options, and government programs.
Savings are the primary source of long term care funding, but the high cost of care often necessitates additional sources. Due to inflation, an investment strategy may be needed to preserve savings. Having long term care inflation protection can also offset future rise of costs.
Long-term Care Insurance
As mentioned above, long-term care insurance can offer a lifeline, covering services that regular health insurance typically doesn’t. It’s crucial to purchase a policy before health issues arise, as premiums are lower for younger, healthier individuals.
Though medicare and medicaid are the most well known, there are many other government programs at the federal, state, and local levels to offer financial support to seniors. Research what options you may qualify for in your local community as well as areas you would be willing to relocate to.
Long-Term Care Planning Resources
Throughout this guide we have outlined many of the areas of consideration. It is not expected that you tackle each item on your own. In fact, to ensure your long term plan success you should seek out the following resources:
Attorneys Specializing in Long Term Care
Lawyers trained in elder law that can help shore up all legal documents relating to your estate and future care wishes.
Provides resources and tools for seniors, caregivers, and professionals on long term care, health, and wellness.
Medicare’s website provides information on long term care coverage and options.
This site is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information on long term care planning, including costs, services, and insurance.
Financial Planners Specializing in Elder Care
A big component of long term care planning is figuring out your budget, and how you will fund care. Working with a financial planner can get you well on your way to a solid financial plan.
Local Senior Organizations
State and local non-profit organizations can provide localized information and guide you through the options available where you live.
Get Help From A Long Term Care Specialist
Blakeford Senior Life is a Nashville based non-profit provider of quality senior lifestyle solutions and health services to senior adults. Our long term care team works with seniors who are 60 and older to create a personalized plan that empowers seniors to remain independent while enjoying access to a range of services.