The majority of us don't want to think about the day when we won't be able to care for ourselves or when our loved ones will be unable to live on their own anymore. However, the truth of the matter is that most of us will eventually require some form of long-term care, which could include assistance with routine tasks like walking, taking a bath, getting dressed, eating, or going to the bathroom.
When you properly plan for your future senior living needs, you grant yourself more time to make informed, pragmatic decisions and are also more likely to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your senior care.
Here are five steps you can take right now to better prepare yourself and your loved ones for the possibility that one day you or a member of your family will require long-term care.
1. Get Educated on Senior Living Options
There are many different options for senior living care, and each one offers different levels of care based on the needs of their residents.
You should learn all you can about the various senior living options available, such as home health care services, independent living, assisted living, adult day care/foster care, memory care, and hospice, so you have a clear understanding of the care services that each option offers.
In this way, when it's time to seek out senior care options, you will already be familiar with the different care services available, which will give you a better idea of which option is best suited to meet your needs or the needs of a loved one.
2. Plan for Senior Living Costs
The vast majority of health insurance policies and Medicare do not contribute toward the cost of long-term care, and this is why planning for senior living is so crucial.
While Medicare will pay for medical and rehabilitative care (treatment provided by physicians and nurses), the program will not cover the cost of non-medical care, such as assistance with activities of daily living, i.e., bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, etc. Medicaid will cover long-term care expenses, but only when an individual has drained all of their personal assets. The individual will also have the option to choose between a Medicaid-sponsored senior living community or Medicaid-sponsored in-home services, both of which are quite expensive.
There are also possibilities for private pay, such as long-term care insurance, which, according to recommendations from specialists, should be obtained sometime between the ages of 50 and 55. You also have the option of paying for senior living from your personal income and assets, as well as life insurance proceeds. It is imperative to remember that, depending on the required level of care, senior living fees can be very costly (including in the Northern Virginia area), generally ranging from $2,500 to $8,000+ per month. To start the planning process for these options, you should have conversations with your loved ones and seek the advice of an insurance agent, as well as possibly a financial advisor.
The cost of senior living and the care coverage alternatives available to you can vary widely depending on the sort of services you require and the state in which you live. Throughout your conversations with the various service providers, make it a point to inquire about their fees, billing procedures, and whether they participate in any state or federal assistance programs.
3. Consider Your Healthcare Wishes and Inform Your Family
At some point, many of us will be confronted with decisions regarding medical treatment near the end of our lives that we won't be able to make for ourselves. Moreover, according to the National Institute on Aging, one study showed that nearly one out of three end-of-life decisions that families made on behalf of a loved one was incorrect. That is why it's essential to clearly communicate your healthcare preferences and goals with your family and doctors.
As stated previously, it is always important to plan ahead, but in the case of advance directives, it is even more vital. If a person is approaching the end of their life, they can use an advance directive to stipulate what kind of medical care they would or would not like to receive.
Advance directives typically include a living will and an appointed healthcare power of attorney. A living will is a legal document that specifies the medical care a patient wants to receive, if any, in the event that they are unable to make their own decisions about their care. You can be sure that your loved ones are aware of your healthcare desires when you create a legal document, like an advance directive or durable medical power of attorney, to outline your wishes. In doing so, if you ever become unable to make decisions regarding your medical care, you will have an actionable plan in place that gives your family peace of mind and helps mitigate stressful problems, uncertainty, or arguments from arising.
Be sure that the important people in your life are aware of your advance directive, and periodically evaluate the choices you've made and, if needed, make timely revisions that reflect your current desires.
4. Gather Important Information and Resources
When making plans for senior living, you need to assess your current care needs and consider how those needs may change as you age. You should also make sure that all your pertinent documents, such as your advance directive, will, and insurance policy, are valid and up-to-date. It can also be helpful to create a list of local and national resources that support caregivers, especially resources related to public benefit programs that provide families with additional financial support. All of your key documents should be secured in one central location that your family is aware of, which will help avoid uninformed decisions and expensive mistakes later on.
5. Start Planning Now
It is never too late to begin making preparations for senior living, regardless of where you are in your caregiving journey. You can help alleviate a great deal of stress and pressure for you and your loved ones by starting the planning process now. That way, you will be more confident about the future, and, when the time comes, you will be content with the knowledge that you made the best decision for you and your family.
For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.