Through decades of dealing with clients, I have seen firsthand the many difficulties a family faces when one of its members has an extended illness. Without proper planning, the person who is ill often must watch helplessly as their personal finances dwindle and they deal with the emotional stress of feeling like a burden to the family that is trying to help physically and financially. For the caregiver, taking care of a loved one frequently takes a toll on virtually every aspect of their lives: emotionally, economically and physically.
As we read article after article showing shockingly high statistics for those 65 and older that point to the increased risk of the need for long-term care, we can’t help but realize how important the topic is. When you add in the pandemic that brought new realization to the potential frailty of health, you know we face a real problem. The financial impact that is all too often associated with access to care should be addressed during any planning meeting with your clients.
Finding An LTC Solution
Many individuals mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay for help with everyday activities, including dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, home-delivered meals, adult day care and other services. The 2021 Medicare & You Handbook states clearly on page 52 that Medicare does not cover these services, so your clients will need to develop an alternate plan to pay for these needs.
Long-term care insurance is often a viable solution. An individual pays for long-term care insurance with their money, but their health is actually what enables them to buy it. So if you have a client who is currently in good enough health to purchase proper coverage, it is imperative that you offer them the opportunity to do so. However, when you encounter a client already dealing with a health condition, finding solutions that help them will change their life and change their family members’ lives as well.
Here are two examples of reasons individuals face the need for long-term care, as well as some resources to consider:
Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke recovery can be a confusing and challenging process for the survivor and the caregiver.
The American Stroke Association is the place to find resources. Medicare pays for a variety of preventive services, including cardiovascular disease screening.
2. Alzheimer’s disease
Older individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia have twice as many hospital stays per year as other people in the same age bracket. Seventy percent of the total lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia is borne by families — either through out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenses or from the value of unpaid care.
Alzheimer’s Association offers many resources, and Medicare pays for a cognitive assessment as part of an annual wellness visit.
If you work with individuals who are on Medicare, you know you are working with a population at high risk for needing extended care. Go to Medicare.gov to learn more about coverage for skilled nursing facilities, durable medical equipment and home health services.
If you are sidestepping the topic of long-term care because you need more education, please seek out the information you need to help your clients. If you choose not to work with long-term care insurance, then use it as an opportunity to network with others who do. The worst thing you can do, though, is avoid the topic altogether.