A joint venture between the Associated Press (AP) and the NORC at the University of Chicago (if you’re curious about what NORC means, visit this page, and anticipate confusion) released the results of a national survey it conducted related to the population’s understanding of long-term care and the impact it has on families. This is a follow-up to a survey it conducted in 2013 related to peoples’ understanding of long-term care.
The results of the survey may be surprising to some, but not to folks that have experienced a situation related to the care of a loved one. Some key points from the survey:
- The US Department of Health & Human Services estimates that 70% of people who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care.
- Six in 10 Americans aged 40 or older have experience with long-term care, either as caregiver, recipient, or person paying for care.
- Americans aged 40 or older who have experienced long-term care issues are more likely to be concerned with planning for long-term care for themselves and not relying on family.
- One-third of Americans in that same age bracket are very concerned about not doing enough planning to provide for their own care, but two-thirds indicate that they’ve done little to no planning.
- Americans lack information about ongoing living assistance, but what information they do have the tend to get from friends, family, or co-workers, even though they place much more trust in the information they receive from professionals.
There are additional critical points in the survey, including how the nation will pay for the growing care needs of its aging population.
But the big takeaway for me, as an elder law attorney, is this: there are professional sources of information on these issues, from attorneys to elder care groups to financial planners, that can be tapped for often-times minimal or no cost to provide education and understanding related to these issues. There is no reason to face these problems without planning or direction.
Some basic points to consider:
- Have you talked about your long-term care desires with your family? If so, have you talked about how to pay for them? For example, if you want to stay at home, have you advised in which order assets should be consumed, and which ones should not be (if any)? Or if you’d like to move into an independent or assisted living home, have you discussed paying for care?
- Do you have the basic estate planning documents in place that will allow family to make decisions on your behalf? Power of Attorney? Health Care Power of Attorney? Living Will? Have you explained your wishes to your family? If not, DO SO.
- Have you considered long-term care health insurance? Many insurance companies nowadays offer policies that are long-term care/whole life insurance combinations, meaning you can get more than just care coverage from your investment. Many long-term care policies also include home-health riders, allowing coverage for in-home care. Talk to an insurance professional about these options.
- Have you considered planning to protect assets in the event you need long-term care? As the survey indicates, 72% of the folks that have received some sort of long-term care have incomes of $50,000 or less. Our experience has shown that many of these people do not have the types of long-term savings or assets to pay for ongoing care, and when the assets they do have run out, they’re normally left needing Medicaid assistance. The laws related to the Medicaid program allow for planning to preserve some of your assets. Talk to an attorney (like me) that understands these rules and what can be done.
- Finally, don’t wait until you’re faced with a crisis situation to do something. We deal with these situations regularly, and they’re never good. So, if you’re reading this blog, make an appointment with an attorney to talk about things. The consultation fee is worth the peace of mind.