Longer lives are great news for many, but, increasingly, they lead to a need for special care. For the fortunate, this may just mean moving into retirement accommodation and letting someone else do all the worrying about the driving, cooking and laundry. It’s a choice.
But for others who are unable to carry out what are known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), like bathing, dressing, feeding and personal hygiene, there’s no choice. Professional care is needed, either in the home or in assisted living establishments.
The huge costs involved for this support, known as Long Term Care, LTC, (though it can also be short term or temporary) led to the development of long term insurance, since this coverage generally is not available from Medicare.
In the old days, experts were divided on whether LTC insurance was worth the money but increasing longevity now comes down firmly in favor of buying protection. As we reported in our August 2013 issue, the chance someone who buys a long term care insurance policy at age 60 will use their policy before they die is 50 percent.
Sometimes, the decision on whether to invoke the benefits of a policy fall to the children of parents who might not be able to oversee the arrangements for themselves. That’s when it pays to have prepared in advance for such an event and to know how best to proceed.
If you have older parents who need help with claiming on an LTC policy it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms of their coverage. Make sure you have a copy, with relevant contact details, as well as those for their healthcare providers.
Typically, a policy will indicate what ADLs they must not be able to perform (many policies specify at least two out of six ADLs), for which you may need documentary support from their physician.
You will also need to know whether their coverage is for a maximum fixed period or if it’s open-ended. That could have implications for their finances if they need care beyond the period limits of the policy.
You’ll also need to know if the policy allows for in-home care and, if so, what type of carers are acceptable and, again, what documentary support is required.
In addition, there might be a waiting period before the benefits of the policy kick in and this could vary according to the circumstances – for example a shorter waiting period for in-home care than for an assisted living or nursing home.
If you have questions about long term care insurance, either for yourself or your parents, please contact us.