4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning Part I

4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning Part I

The Importance of Planning for Eldercare

According to some sources, 60% of us will need long term care sometime during our lives. It is important for all of us to prepare for that day when we will need to help loved ones with care or we will need long term care for ourselves.

We may prepare financially for unexpected disasters by covering our homes, automobiles and health with insurance policies. But no other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. It drastically alters or completely eliminates the three principal retirement dreams of elderly Americans:

  1. Remaining independent in the home without intervention from others
  2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
  3. Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets and income

Sadly, the majority of the American public does not plan for the devastating crisis of needing eldercare. This lack of planning also has an adverse effect on the family, with sacrifices made in time, money, family lifestyles and even affecting the family’s or caregiver’s medical and emotional health.

Because of changing demographics and potential changes in government funding, the current generation, more than any before them, needs to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.

What Is Long Term Care?

The need for long term care arises when an individual requires, from someone else, assistance with medical care, daily living activities, comfort, supervision or advice. This need for care may be caused by an accident, disease process, or frailty. Such conditions may require help with the ability to move about, dress, bathe, eat, use a toilet, medicate, and avoid incontinence.

Also care may be needed to help the disabled person with household cleaning, preparing meals, transportation, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor and answering the phone. Oftentimes, long term care in the form of supervision or confinement is needed due to cognitive impairment from stroke, mental retardation, depression, dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease and so on. Most long term care is provided at home by family members.

What Is Long Term Care or Eldercare Planning?

For seniors, the terms "long term care" and "eldercare" are synonymous. For younger people, "long term care" is the more appropriate phrase.

For the uninformed family member, eldercare or long term care might appear to be a very straightforward and easy-to-understand process. Unfortunately, the reality is that long term care is very complicated and finding care systems and providers is a frustrating and time-consuming process. There is no one single source to help caregivers find services or solve problems with a simple phone call or a single community contact. For this reason, planning for care requires a great deal of prior knowledge in order to avoid operating in a crisis mode trying to find help when the need for care suddenly arises.

However, knowledge of long term care systems is not enough. Because it can happen suddenly, at any time, you must take action now to prepare for the day when you will need to deal with eldercare for your loved ones or for yourself. This action involves

  • Determining the care settings and services you or a loved one most likely would want.
  • Providing funding for paying the cost of care, especially when government support programs are lacking or require sacrifice of assets.
  • Completing a survey to determine necessary financial and legal arrangements to be made.
  • Completing a written long term care planning document to provide instructions to caregivers and to your care coordinator in advance of needing eldercare.
  • Assigning a care coordinator and determining the role of other family members, friends or advisers involved in caregiving.
  • Holding a planning meeting and drawing up a written agreement for involvement between all those who are willing to participate in future caregiving for you or a loved one.

There are four crucial steps necessary in this process for long term care planning. The four steps are based on the following concepts:

  1. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to success.
  2. Having funds to pay for care greatly expands the choices for care settings and providers.
  3. Using professional help relieves stress, reduces conflict, and saves time and money.
  4. Success is assured through a written plan accepted by all parties involved.

In Part II we will discuss these steps in greater depth.

The Importance of Planning for Eldercare

According to some sources, 60% of us will need long term care sometime during our lives. It is important for all of us to prepare for that day when we will need to help loved ones with care or we will need long term care for ourselves.

We may prepare financially for unexpected disasters by covering our homes, automobiles and health with insurance policies. But no other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. It drastically alters or completely eliminates the three principal retirement dreams of elderly Americans:

  1. Remaining independent in the home without intervention from others
  2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
  3. Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets and income

Sadly, the majority of the American public does not plan for the devastating crisis of needing eldercare. This lack of planning also has an adverse effect on the family, with sacrifices made in time, money, family lifestyles and even affecting the family’s or caregiver’s medical and emotional health.

Because of changing demographics and potential changes in government funding, the current generation, more than any before them, needs to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.

What Is Long Term Care?

The need for long term care arises when an individual requires, from someone else, assistance with medical care, daily living activities, comfort, supervision or advice. This need for care may be caused by an accident, disease process, or frailty. Such conditions may require help with the ability to move about, dress, bathe, eat, use a toilet, medicate, and avoid incontinence.

Also care may be needed to help the disabled person with household cleaning, preparing meals, transportation, shopping, paying bills, visiting the doctor and answering the phone. Oftentimes, long term care in the form of supervision or confinement is needed due to cognitive impairment from stroke, mental retardation, depression, dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease and so on. Most long term care is provided at home by family members.

What Is Long Term Care or Eldercare Planning?

For seniors, the terms "long term care" and "eldercare" are synonymous. For younger people, "long term care" is the more appropriate phrase.

For the uninformed family member, eldercare or long term care might appear to be a very straightforward and easy-to-understand process. Unfortunately, the reality is that long term care is very complicated and finding care systems and providers is a frustrating and time-consuming process. There is no one single source to help caregivers find services or solve problems with a simple phone call or a single community contact. For this reason, planning for care requires a great deal of prior knowledge in order to avoid operating in a crisis mode trying to find help when the need for care suddenly arises.

However, knowledge of long term care systems is not enough. Because it can happen suddenly, at any time, you must take action now to prepare for the day when you will need to deal with eldercare for your loved ones or for yourself. This action involves

  • Determining the care settings and services you or a loved one most likely would want.
  • Providing funding for paying the cost of care, especially when government support programs are lacking or require sacrifice of assets.
  • Completing a survey to determine necessary financial and legal arrangements to be made.
  • Completing a written long term care planning document to provide instructions to caregivers and to your care coordinator in advance of needing eldercare.
  • Assigning a care coordinator and determining the role of other family members, friends or advisers involved in caregiving.
  • Holding a planning meeting and drawing up a written agreement for involvement between all those who are willing to participate in future caregiving for you or a loved one.

There are four crucial steps necessary in this process for long term care planning. The four steps are based on the following concepts:

  1. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to success.
  2. Having funds to pay for care greatly expands the choices for care settings and providers.
  3. Using professional help relieves stress, reduces conflict, and saves time and money.
  4. Success is assured through a written plan accepted by all parties involved.

In Part II we will discuss these steps in greater depth.

 

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