Many Options Exist for Long-term Elder Care
Over the last several decades, the lifespan of the average American has increased significantly. This is undoubtedly a good thing. However, the aging population has brought with it a whole host of new concerns, including the need for a wider array of elder care options. According to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, approximately 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will require long-term elder care at some point.
This doesn’t mean that everyone will end up spending their golden years in a nursing home, though. In fact, only about 5 percent of senior citizens live in a nursing home for five years or more. Most other seniors will utilize a mix of short-term residential stays and at-home care.
If you are planning elder care for yourself or a loved one, take time to review your options before making a decision. Some of the more popular alternatives to nursing home care include the following:
Home care services: These services are well-suited to people who do not need intensive medical care, but who do require help with chores, meals or other household needs. In some cases, seniors might hire an aide to come in several days a week. In other cases, they might choose to live in a specialized residential community that provides these services.
Medial alert services: This is usually the most cost-effective option for seniors who are relatively healthy but who are worried about the safety risks of living alone. Seniors can wear necklaces or wristbands with emergency buttons that, when pushed, send a message to an emergency dispatcher. Depending on the situation, the dispatcher can call first responders or a predetermined family member or friend.
Adult day care: This is a great option for seniors who are healthy, but bored, or for caregivers who need to take a break. Seniors can visit adult day centers to share meals and activities with similarly-situated individuals.
Planning for long-term care
As helpful as long-term care may be, it is also very expensive. Medicare only covers a small portion of the care that seniors need.
For that reason, it is important to start planning for long-term elder care well before it is needed. You don’t want to be caught by surprise and without a plan.
In some cases, long-term elder care insurance can be an excellent choice. In others, people may want to avail themselves of the many estate planning options that provide income for long-term care while protecting the family home and other assets.
Everyone should consider long-term care as part of their estate plan. If you have not yet made plans for your future care, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney who can help make sure you are well protected.