Four Essential Discussion Points to Fulfill Wishes and Maintain Control in Long-Term Care
Long-term care impacts individuals, especially in older ages, needing support in daily life activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, and mobility. Long-term implies the need for care lasts for an extended period, generally seen as at least twelve months.
The unexpected need for extended care may strain a family but, when planning occurs early, both caretakers and those needing support will have more control in an otherwise chaotic situation. The topic of extended care often takes a backseat in family planning; however, the consequences of not planning can be stressful, not just financially, but emotionally and physically to everyone involved. These conversations now will make a substantial impact in the future.
How to start the conversation about Long-Term Care:
For younger individuals, starting this conversation can be a simple as, “Mom/Dad/Other relevant loved ones, have you made plans in the event of your need for extended care in the future? I want to be sure we all understand your desires so we can best assist.”
For parents or grandparents that want to have this conversation, it may start with, “Kids, we want to talk you through our plans for the future should either of us find ourselves in a position of needing extended care. We want to sit down with you to review our wishes and how you can help.”
Most often, a lighthearted conversation in a low-stress environment opens doors to find out the wishes of those involved. Position the conversation to assist and provide instruction for future wishes. These conversations can ease potential tension.
What type of long-term care is desired?
Knowing where a loved one wishes to reside is essential when planning. Some options may be a fit for extended care situations. Understanding the differences and knowing what options are viable for those needing care is crucial. These are the three most common options.
Staying in one’s home. The entire family should understand the desire of how long a family member wishes to stay in their own home. Many people want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. If this is the case, there needs to be a plan to manage needs such as medical attention and socialization. The physical and mental care of the elderly family member is a priority.
Living with a family member.
All parties should clearly understand the plan is for the elderly family member to live with another family member.
Senior living assisted living and nursing home facilities: These facilities allow for a social lifestyle, with easy access to the support of a community and healthcare. This type of living situation can be an ideal option for aging adults. This can range from independent living to nursing home care and can include physical therapy and other medical services all at one location. The larger range of services allows the individual to stay at one facility for many years regardless of the needed level of care.
Who is responsible for the various components of long-term care?
All parties involved need to understand their responsibilities. Thus, alleviating future pressure of unknown roles in a family and avoiding tension. Often, the default assumption or plan falls to female family members. If possible, it is ideal to avoid leaving all care responsibilities to any one individual. The physical, mental, and financial burden placed on a loved one who is the primary caretaker can be profound. It is best to plan as a unit, including the individuals needing care and all family members or friends connected to that individual who might play a role in support. Creating schedules and setting up a definitive plan of who is helping when and with what will help reduce the burden on one person or household. A professional care facilitator is an option. Seek local legal, financial, and caretaker advocates and substantially decrease pressure for family members.
Important topics to have a point person or a care plan include:
– Health Care: Doctor appointments and medications can become extensive when health deteriorates. Know who is scheduling appointments, providing transportation to appointments, administering medication, and home care.
– Daily Care: Food/feeding, clothes, cleaning, bathing, transferring to and from a bed or chair, mobility around the home, entertainment, and socialization. This is a long list and only a brief view of potentially needed support. This can be the most overwhelming part of a caretaker’s responsibilities as it is all-consuming if only one person is planning for all levels of need here.
– Financial plans: Ensure there is a plan for how to pay for care. Knowing who is responsible for overseeing finances is essential to ensure properly managed money.
How is long-term care funded? Who is overseeing financial planning?
An essential step to take before care is needed, ideally as early as possible, is planning the funding of possible future care. Talking to your financial professional to have a monetary plan in place is extremely helpful. Part of this preparation should comprise of obtaining insurance plans that mitigate future financial strain through optimizing funds for Long-Term Care. The types of insurance plans include:
– Traditional Long-Term Care Coverage: Coverage is used for care expenses when necessary. If care is not needed nothing is paid out of this plan. Premiums can be affordable, but rates are not locked and can regularly increase.
– Hybrid Long-Term Care Coverage: Sometimes called Asset-Based or Linked Benefit policies. Provides tax-free benefits for care but includes small death benefits.
– Life Insurance with Chronic Illness or Long-Term Care Riders: Life insurance with the benefit of the ability to access the death benefit early in the event of needing care. Riders and functions vary based on carrier and products. With riders, there is an additional cost.
Other financial considerations, including working with an estate attorney to create legal documentation such as a will, a living will, or a trust. Assigning an executor is imperative. Lastly, once all these plans are formally in place, discuss where this essential documentation will be stored and who is the primary point of contact for questions. Planning now is a gift to the family.
These conversations can be brief or more in-depth. Discussion amongst loved ones in advance of needing care helps mitigate stress down the road. Communication of the desired goals for extended care is important for all involved.
EMG is here to help plan for a successful future. The EMG team can help with the conversations and create a robust Long-Term Care plan. Contact us to support you and your clients in achieving success in this discussion.
Director of Strategic Life Marketing
EMG Insurance Brokerage
Direct: (713) 507-1015