When asked about long-term care insurance, one senior said, "I've thought about it. I don't think it's worthwhile to buy at my age." She's 83. "I've thought about it but I really haven't looked into it," another woman said. Others simply don't want to talk about it. But a don't-ask-don't-tell attitude toward paying for long-term care isn't an effective strategy for the 75 million baby boomers, the oldest of whom will start hitting age 70 in 2016.
An article in the Memphis Daily News, titled "OK, Baby Boomers: Time for Some Hard Decisions," reminds us that care for seniors can come from family members or from outside services such as adult day care, assisted living centers, home-care services and nursing homes. These services often include assistance with daily activities, home health care, respite care, hospice care, adult day care, care in a nursing home, and care in an assisted living facility.
People pay for long-term care by using personal resources, long-term care insurance, and Medicaid if they qualify. Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, and private health insurance typically don't pay for long-term care. Individuals may also look to other resources such as veterans' benefits, Social Security, community services, and family caregivers.
On average, people stay in assisted living for 24 months and in a nursing home for 28 months. Some of the challenges of establishing a long-term care plan include planning for many variables such as marital status, disabilities, health, and financial assets.
Those who advise seniors about elder care vary on when it's best to buy long-term care insurance. One expert says that the ideal time for buying long-term care insurance occurs between ages 55 and 65, as it doesn't get cheaper as you age. Others say to start looking in your 40s and 50s and to review your insurance needs throughout your life, as you should insure loss of income in your younger years and consider how to pay for long-term care as you age.
In taking the time to set your own course in planning for the care you may need later in life, work with someone who has been in the long-term care insurance business for at least three to five years, and who is familiar with common situations insurance buyers are facing. Sales commissions on long-term care policies are pretty standard, so look for someone who isn't selling for only one company, which can limit your options. Most agents can write policies with multiple companies and know about several policies with different details.
Before making any decisions, remember, long-term care insurance is only as good as the contract behind it. Have an experienced elder law attorney review any policy before you sign on the dotted line.
Reference: Memphis Daily News (January 24, 2015) "OK, Baby Boomers: Time for Some Hard Decisions"