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3 Crucial Steps in Planning for Long-Term Care

 
For seniors, moving to an assisted living facility isn’t just a one-time event; it is a process that impacts their emotional, physical and mental well-being. If you have a senior loved one who may need to relocate to a retirement community, there are a lot of complex and complicated steps to take. 
 
While you may feel overwhelmed, your senior loved one likely feels hesitant about the change and even powerless in the decisions. Planning for long-term care in advance can help turn those worries into anticipation and empower confidence in decision-making.
 

Step One: Start “the conversation” early

 
There’s no easy way to start an end-of-life conversation with a loved one. If you are lucky, they may start it with you. In most situations an outside catalyst — like the death of a friend or family member over the age of 65 — can open the door to the discussion. Be sure to be kind, compassionate and life affirming. Focus on:
  • Reassuring your loved one that this conversation is about helping them secure a comfortable, healthy life.
  • Avoiding talk about being a burden, unless your loved one brings it up. According to The Conversation Project, 60 percent of seniors say it’s important their families aren’t burdened with tough decisions, but nearly the same amount of people haven’t communicated their wishes.
  • Putting their needs and wants into writing so that you have documented details when you need to make tough decisions.
 
As important as it is for you to have this conversation with your loved one, it’s equally important you encourage them to have these conversations with their healthcare provider.
 

Step Two: Understand gaps in medical coverage

 
Seniors may think that their health care needs will be covered, but there are many gaps in Medicare benefits and long-term care is often one of them. While it may feel too soon to be concerned about the cost of medical care — especially if they don’t know whether they’ll need it — if one waits until they need it, chances are they’ve waited too long. When needing immediate cash for long-term care, some people have to withdraw their retirement savings or sell a life insurance policy. You can help your loved one plan ahead for these costs in other ways such as considering a reverse mortgage. Available only to people over 62 who own their home, reverse mortgages let you borrow money against the amount you’ve accumulated in your property. Of course, the other option is for your loved one to sell their home, particularly if it’s paid off. If you have a rough idea of how much their home is worth, then you can get a clearer picture of how much money they can put toward care later. 
 

Step Three: Prioritize needs and wants

 
While cost should play an important factor, let your loved one’s desires for long-term care drive the conversation. Help your loved one understand their options. Be patient when explaining the difference in arrangements such as in-home care, assisted living and independent living. Once they know what they can choose, consider touring facilities together and making a list of pros and cons. Find out what your senior loved one is firm on having and areas of flexibility. When visiting retirement communities, nursing homes and assisted living centers, be sure to look for:
 
  • Average age. Is it appropriate for your loved one? Will they be able to make friends and have peers with similar ages, backgrounds and mindsets?
  • Activities. Does most socializing occur on the grounds or are their trips and other planned activities? What level of activity does your loved one want?
  • Food. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit down in the dining area for a meal. How does your loved one like the food? How does the staff prepare meals? 
When you start the conversation you begin to understand your family member’s vision for their golden years. When you make these decisions together, you both will feel less pressure and more freedom. 

 

 

Planning for Long-Term Care

As you and your loved ones age, it can be difficult to plan for the future, particularly with the rising cost of long-term care. However, to provide the best possible level of care, it is necessary to begin planning well in advance. Here are some steps to follow when developing a long-term care plan for yourself or your loved ones.

Planning for the Costs of Long-Term Care

The planning process should begin well before any long-term care is actually required. First, assess the likelihood you or your loved one will require long-term care. What kinds of lifestyle choices are you currently making? Smoking, drinking excessively, and eating a diet with high amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium can drastically increase the likelihood you will need long-term care. Similarly, if you exercise regularly, maintain a reasonable level of physical and mental fitness, and eat healthfully, your chances of needing long-term care will go down. Next, look at your family’s history; are there hereditary illnesses or conditions that could impact your health down the road? Recurring cases of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or arthritis in your family may make it more likely you will need long-term care. As worldwide lifespans increase, the likelihood that extended care will be necessary also increases.

Finally, how close are you to retirement? In order to maintain financial and general independence, factor in a realistic retirement age and how that might affect your ability to pay for long-term care, should it be required. 

Even if you meet all the criteria for a healthy lifestyle and history, it is still critical to plan for the future. On average, 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their life.

Living a healthy lifestyle is a great way to prevent or put off needing long-term care. Smoking and overindulgence in alcohol increase the risk of cancer, so quit smoking and try to limit alcohol consumption to less than a drink a day. Improve your overall health by changing your diet to include fewer processed foods and more fruit and vegetables, which are thought to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Regular exercise will help you become more physically fit and able to fight off various illnesses. Plus, exercise releases endorphins and serotonin while reducing cortisol, which improves mental health by boosting your mood and reducing stress. Finally, balance-specific training will help strengthen your core, reducing the risk of injury from a fall. 

Paying for Long-Term Care

The other major reason to prepare for long-term care well in advance is that costs can be prohibitive. While you may have already arranged a spending plan for your life after retirement, this plan may not account for the unexpected. It is important to know your options if you need help paying for care; Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so typically, payment would be self-funded until it is necessary to transfer to Medicaid, which does cover long-term care but has stringent requirements that change state by state.

One of the best ways to properly plan for long-term care while preserving your assets is to buy a long-term care insurance plan, which covers a broad range of services, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and independent living. Most experts recommend buying a long-term care insurance plan in your 50s to prepare for the eventuality. As with any insurance plan, this involves paying an agreed-upon amount on a regular basis to fund future long-term care, if necessary.

Reverse mortgages are a popular option for seniors aged 62 and older to pay for long-term care and other living expenses. This type of loan allows homeowners to borrow against the equity they’ve built into their home. According to consumersadvocate.org, one of the pros of this option is that you can receive a lump sum that you can use in any way you need to, but one of its cons is that it could potentially negatively impact the value of your estate. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, speak with your financial planner and estate attorney to ensure this is an ideal route for you. 

Another option is to sell a life insurance policy for its present value to help pay for daily living expenses and medical care. This is possible regardless of your current state of health. If you are covered by a high-deductible health plan, you can also open a health savings account (HSA), which helps people deal with the shock of high medical costs and comes with many tax benefits. 

With proper planning, the future doesn’t have to be frightening. Know the chances you (or a loved one) will require long-term care, and plan accordingly.

Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

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Please visit our Long-Term Care Insurance page for more information on the types of coverage options our agency offers.  


Flood Insurance

Who Needs Flood Insurance?

Owners and renters should insure their personal property against flood loss. Buildings in the course of construction, condominium associations, and owners of residential condominium units in participating communities all may purchase flood insurance.

What can cause a flood?

  • Floods and flash floods
  • Heavy rains and wind
  • Hurricanes
  • Winter storms and snowmelt
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
  • Mudflow

Just a single inch of water(or mud) can cause damage to your home, resulting in thousands of dollars in repair and restoration costs.

Why should you consider Flood Insurance?

Most homeowner insurance policies exclude coverage for a flood! It is important to fully protect your property. If an unexpected flood occurs, flood insurance would end up saving you thousands of dollars on damage to your home and possessions.

Purchasing flood insurance provides protection: For home investment, destruction, and financial devastation. A flood can occur anywhere that is rains or snows. It can also occur anywhere near a body of water, a dam, or a drainage system. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes that almost 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from areas that do not have high flood risk.

It is Affordable: The annual cost of coverage can range from $130 to around $1,000 depending on your flood zone risk and the amount of coverage that you purchase. The actual cost of flood insurance will depend on whether you live in a low, medium, or high-risk flood zone. FEMA determines the flood risk of a community. You may visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site to confirm what risk zone your home is located in. Keep in mind that the lower your flood risk, the lower the cost of the insurance will be.

*You should refer to your policy and its Declarations Page for specific information on coverage, limitations, restrictions and deductibles.


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As a renter, you need to make sure you and your belongings are covered in case of an unfortunate event. Travelers Renter's insurance can give you the protection you need at a price you can afford.

Coverage can include furniture, clothing, appliances, and improvements you've made to the rental unit. Personal liability coverage can include protection if someone is accidentally injured while in your home.

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Contact Single Source Benefits Insurance Enrollment Center benefits today to get started on a quote.


Prepare your home for cooler days ahead

Your home is one of your most important possessions. By keeping it properly maintained, you can reduce the risk of a loss. Please take a moment to review these important safety tips.

  • Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures, and turn up the thermostat during extra cold periods.
  • Check for damage to your roof, and clean gutters and downspouts to keep fallen leaves from accumulating.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
  • Have your chimney cleared and maintained annually by a professional.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
  • For more seasonal home maintenance tips and to learn how you can further protect our home and property, visit Travelers Insurance.