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Things to Think About Now

Often the topic of long term care planning can be boiled down to three primary considerations:

  1.   What do you want?
  2.   Is what you want realistic?
  3.   Do you have the funding to make it possible?
  1. What do you want?  

Most of us would answer simply, “I want to not need long term care!” Yup— I get it. But if at some point, in spite of your wishes, you are put in that position, what do you want your situation to be? Believe it or not, some people know exactly where they want to live if they find themselves needing long term care, i.e.: “I want to live out my years at Beautiful Life Continuing Care Retirement Community, or, Sheltering Oak Assisted Living.”

How about you? Maybe you honestly have no idea what you will want at that point in your life specifically—but you may know what you don’t want. Perhaps you’ve seen less-than-optimal long term care situations play out. Maybe you know you want choices. That is still a great start.

However, bear in mind that, when it comes to long term care, some attractive choices may not be available forever if you delay. For example, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are designed to keep residents active and healthy and to allow what’s referred to as “aging in place.” Residents start out in independent living units where they prepare their own meals and generally are self-sufficient. Fitness classes, social activities, clubs, and on-site health care facilitate friendships among residents and stave off many maladies that can befall seniors living in traditional housing. The catch? CCRCs require that new residents pass a physical exam, effectively eliminating that housing choice once you’re on the threshold of needing care.  

So, if your answer to the “What do you want?” question is that you’d like to live in a CCRC, more forethought is required with regard to the timing of your move than if you plan to continue living in your own  home until nursing home care becomes necessary. In other words, wait too long, and your health may transform the plan of moving to a CCRC into an impossible dream. Which is a great lead-in to the next question: 

  1. Is what you want realistic? 

Like most things in life, there’s what we want, and then there’s what’s realistic. Perfect world, they’re one and the same. But in reality they unfortunately often diverge, for a variety of reasons. As mentioned above there is obviously the issue of health, but in addition, procrastination, lack of planning, and not knowing our options until we’re too sick or hurt to do the research, are all factors. The location of family members, their schedules and obligations, and the strength of the relationships are also important when thinking about whether or not your plan is realistic.

Any or all of these factors can result in others (adult children, health care professionals, etc.) making the decision of what our care will be for us, instead of by us. Reminds me of the famous bumper sticker that reads Be Good to Your Kids, They’ll Pick Your Nursing Home!  

  1. Do you have the funding to make it possible?

Of course, the ability to fund your plan can be the make-or-break element of even the best-laid intentions. For example, for several decades, throngs of people have rationalized that, “the government will have to do something!” This seems to make sense in theory from the point of view that there is in fact a long term care crisis in our country with so many people aging and needing help. Thirty years ago, Congress convened a watershed commission on this very topic. In 1990 the resulting report, The Pepper Report to Congress, urged government action.  

In an article reviewing the conclusions drawn by the commissioners, The New England Journal of Medicine commented, “Most Americans — rich and poor, old and young — see themselves at risk of impoverishment if they or their family members need long-term care.” And now here we are, thirty years later. Suggested reforms have not been enacted, and anyone who thinks their desired long term care plan will be government-funded is likely in for a tremendous disappointment.  

Which leads back to question three, whether you will have the funding you’ll need to make your plan for long term care possible. Today, most professional (paid) long term care continues to be funded by either private funding (money or long term care insurance) or Medicaid, a means-tested government program. The most efficient way to fund future long term care, while preserving assets and retirement income, is a long term care insurance policy. And, like most other topics related to planning, we have more options today than we’ll have tomorrow.

So, when we think about it, we shouldn’t just think about it…we should take informed action as well! Let me help you answer all the questions at the top of this article with a long term care insurance policy to fund your plan– whatever it may be as of today – and whenever you need care.

For more information regarding long term care insurance, feel free to contact Baygroup Insurance at http://www.baygroupinsurance.com/forms/contact-us or call us at 410-557-7907 for more information.