Long-Term Care Insurance for Senior Home Care
Perhaps your Dad is struggling a little more each time you see him. The man who used to keep a neat and tidy home is not making his bed, and you find used cereal bowls on top of the counter instead of in the dishwasher. As you do his laundry, you notice how there are hardly any dirty socks. Is this because your Dad has a difficult time changing them from day to day? You worry about your Dad showering since stepping into the bathtub is difficult since he has a bad hip.
You know that your Dad needs just an extra set of hands to help maintain the house, help him dress, and bathe, but you and your siblings have full-time jobs and children at home to raise. While you are happy to help your Dad several times a week, you can’t be there every day. You know that your parents purchased long-term care insurance decades ago. While you know that your Dad may need to enter a senior care facility some day, it is not the time to take that step yet. You need to hire someone to come to the house each day, but you don’t know how your Dad can afford to pay for one-on-one care.
Long-term care insurance policy
If you find your family in this position, it may be time to dig in your Dad’s file cabinet to find his long-term care insurance policy. Some family members assume that long-term care insurance is just for patients who are ready to move into a senior care facility. This may not be the case.
Some purchase long-term care insurance after hearing about the exorbitant price of nursing homes. Many see long-term care insurance as an essential purchase since health insurance does not pay for senior care facilities, and Medicare only covers short stays in nursing homes. What you may not realize is that your long-term care insurance policy may be more versatile than you imagined. Your loved one’s long-term policy may cover getting help for the older adult in question when he or she is still at home.
Adult day care
Some policies may pay for expenses for adult day care. For lack of a better name, adult day care services provide your loved one with companionship, healthcare, and other support services during the day while the caregiver works or manages other responsibilities. Long-term care insurance may pay for this service.
Perhaps your loved one needs help to perform simple activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Maybe he or she needs assistance with household chores and cleaning. Long-term care insurance may pay for some of the costs associated with general home care.
Even if your loved one requires some medical care, he or she can possibly use long-term care insurance to receive such services in his or her own home. Certified and trained staff can check vital signs, coordinate with healthcare professionals, and administer medications for your elderly family member. Your loved one could receive the health care he or she needs and still stay comfortable in his or her own home. Studies show that the elderly heal faster and better while staying at home rather than at a facility.
If you would like to keep your loved one in his or her own home for as long as possible, you are probably already researching ways to make the home environment as safe and as accessible as possible. Some long-term care insurance policies may pay to add ramps to the outside of your senior’s home or to install grab bars in your loved one’s bathroom. The insurance companies will pay for a professional to install these items correctly and securely.
Surprisingly enough, your loved one’s long-term care insurance could take care of the footwork involved with organizing your family member’s care. Some insurance policies pay for a care coordinator who is a trained a licensed professional who assists with determining the needs of your family member. This professional also finds service providers and monitors those professionals as well. They enable you to spend your free time interacting with your loved one instead of interviewing prospective staff or refilling medicine prescriptions.
Choosing a long-term care policy
As we watch our loved ones age, it is only natural to start thinking about our own retirement and futures. If you struggle having enough resources to care for your parent, perhaps you are thinking about purchasing long-term care insurance for yourself.
Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you do your homework to make sure you are picking out the best policy for you. Check with your state insurance department to see what companies sell policies in your state. Know the background of the insurance company. You obviously do not want to trust any old fly-by-night company with your future care.
Review the policy carefully. Do not be pressured into making a quick decision. Understand the coverage of your policy. Make sure the policy covers at-home care as well as care in a facility.
Different states have varied laws regarding long-term care insurance. Some states have outlawed insurance companies from requiring patients to stay in a hospital or nursing facility before qualifying for benefits. Some states allow insurance companies to make this determination.
Some long-term care policies have exclusions for drug or alcohol abuse. Others have exclusions for mental disorders or Alzheimer’s disease. Some companies try to avoid paying for your care by excluding patients with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. This is why it is imperative to read and understand the fine print of your policy before you sign and pay for anything.
Most long-term care policies include a waiting period before your insurance company begins to pay for care services. The companies have this option available so they can lower the premiums for the policies themselves. The longer your waiting period until benefits kick in, the lower your insurance premiums will be. Try to determine how much money you will need to set aside to pay for those services before the insurance company takes over the payments.
Another detail you need to check on is whether or not you keep paying the insurance premium while you are receiving benefits. Some companies waive premiums immediately when you start receiving the benefits, and some companies require you to keep paying for the benefits for a certain amount of time.
Make sure you also understand what happens with your policy if you lapse in payment. Some companies will still give you some of the benefits that you have already paid for if you are unable to continue funding the premiums. Other companies will drop you like a hot potato as soon as you miss a few premium payments. Some of the laws regarding these policies may vary from state to state.
Is Long Term Care Insurance Right for You?
Long-term care insurance, especially policies that pay for at-home care, will allow you and your loved one to have choices on how you live during your final years. Over 1.8 million choose to use the insurance to become residents in nursing homes while 7.6 million use their long-term care insurance to receive care in their own homes. Whatever your choice, it is nice to have options.