I have transitioned as an Extended Care Benefits advisor. It isn’t only about owning long-term care. It is also about having a financial plan and organizing your files in written or digital format and designating family, trusted advisors, or fiduciaries to be available to make health, caregiving, and financial decisions with you or without you if you are frail, have cognitive problems, or illness prevents you with participating in your life decisions.

Americans believe they will need assistance as they age:

  • 68% of older adults think they will need help with their daily activities at some point;
  • 28% have not given much thought with how they will continue to live independently at home if they need that assistance;
  • Only 3% believed there was no chance they would ever need assistance when they get older.
  • One of the top concerns, 62% of those surveyed do not become a concern to their family and friends. People who need caregiving don’t want family and friends to be responsible for their activities of daily living Other concerns noted were:
  • Having caregiving at home (63%);
  • Attitudes toward needing assistance varied by age:
  • 74% of those 65 and older indicated they likely would need help, compared with 64% of respondents aged 50 to 64;
  • 65 and older have given more thought to how they will live independently, with 31% indicating they had given it a lot of thought and 48% indicating they have given it some thought, compared with 25% and 47%, respectively, of respondents 50 to 64. As people age, they have more friends and family who need caregiving.
  • Respondents aged 65 and older were more likely to be concerned about not being able to live at home as they age and about becoming a burden on family (64%) and needing to live in an assisted living community or nursing home (63%).
  • Unpaid family caregivers often feel untrained and unprepared for being a caregiver:
  • Most people want to live independently;
  • There are perhaps 53 million or more unpaid family caregivers in the United States;
  • Aging brings on declining health and mobility, making. Adult children become concerned with the well-being of their parents.
  • Home health care is beneficial, and professional caregivers are experienced in providing care services.
  • COVID-19 pandemic affected independent living:
  • 62% of those aged 60 said they think about how to live at home as they age, about the same as two years ago.
  • 30% indicated that they are thinking about it more often now.
  • Planning for the future also varied among age groups:
  • Adults 65 and older were more likely to have written a will (65%), signed a power of attorney for healthcare and finances (57%), planned with their families about how they will be cared for as they age (32%), set aside funding to pay for that care (31%) and researched community-based services (22%).

Interesting Findings

Health insurance plans, including Medicare, do not pay anything towards long-term care services; about half of the adults 50-plus in AARP’s survey did not know what Medicare services offers at an assisted living, nursing home, or cognitive care center.

What Medicare Covers:

  • Medicare pays for health care at age 65 and for people under age 65 with health or disabilities.
  • Medicare only covers medically necessary health care (not long-term care) that focuses on keeping people healthy or getting them better medically. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays primarily; Medicare Part B covers doctor visits, and Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Part A will pay for short-term rehabilitation, such as physical therapy for stroke, heart attack, or other health issues.

Medicare does not pay for long-term caregiving, nor will Medicare pay for supervision needed for cognitive impairment.

Medicare will pay for a short-term stay in an acute skilled nursing facility, hospice care, or home health care. However, this is only after a hospital stay and only if you satisfy conditions you will find online at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Planning Ahead is Essential:

Home care is costly and sometimes even more expensive than being in a care center, depending on how much care is needed in the home. Long-term care costs are rising rapidly because of inflation, increasing labor costs, and higher demand for care services. Family and friends are not also available to be your part or full-time caregivers.

People believe waiting just before or when you need caregiving is the best time to own a long-term care plan. It isn’t. When people need caregiving, there is always stress.

People make decisions that are usually not helpful for those who need care and those who will now require help with activities of daily living. The best time to have a care plan is when you are in reasonably good health, you can pay the premiums for a long-term care plan, and it is sufficient to pay all or a good portion for professional care services, whether at home or in a care center.