Alzheimer's, Long-term Care, and More
November is Alzheimer Disease Awareness Month. In order to acknowledge and provide support, it is imperative that we understand what Alzheimer's Disease is and how it can affect the need for long-term care and providing the powers necessary for our loved ones to take care of us.
What is Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is best described and defined as a progressive and degenerative for of dementia that causes drastic intellectual deterioration. Often first symptoms noted are memory loss or impairment including difficulty remembering newly learned information. This is often followed by impaired cognitive functioning including disorientation, mood and behavior changes, and troubles with speech or conversations, and eventually complete helplessness (including difficulty swallowing, walking, and bodily functions). Changes that affect memory, thinking and a persons behavior long term can be difficult for family members to manage, navigate and provide care for.
Long-Term Care (LTC)
Long-term care (LTC) is a variety of services and supports that a person many need to help meet personal care needs. Generally speaking, most long-term care needs are not medical, but rather assisting in daily activities. There are 6 key Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) that are considered for long-term care need. They include:
5. Ambulating (Walking)
There are also Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL's) that are commonly found among the supports and services of long-term care. There are everyday tasks where assistance is needed. They include:
- Managing Money
- Taking medications
- Preparing Meals and Clean up
- Shopping (Grocery, clothing, etc)
- Managing communication (telephone, mail, etc.)
- Caring for pets
- Responding to emergency alerts (fire alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, etc.)
Who Needs Long-term Care Services?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (2017), approximately 70% of people are expected to need long-term care services at some point in their lives. They also suggest that "most" Americans turning 65 will require some form of formal or informal care at some point in their lives. This means, the older you get, the more likely you are to need long-term care services. Generally speaking, because women out live men by about 5 years, they are more likely to live alone and need care as they age. Having a disability or chronic illness can also be a reason someone may need long-term care services. Another reason someone may need care is their health conditions - chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure may make you more likely to need care.
How to Pay for Long-Term Care Services
There are several options for paying for long-term care services and it is important to know and understand each of them to ensure you are making the best decision for you and your family.
1. Self-Pay (out-of-pocket expense)
Paying for long-term care services out of pocket means that you are using your own assets and funds ( savings, cash, retirement funds, or other forms of income) to pay for services needed.
2. Long-Term Care Insurance
There are several long-term care options including a Traditional LTC Policy, Life insurance with a LTC rider, or a hybrid model or options.
3. Government Available Programs
Several government programs are available and can help with long-term care needs depending on assets, services needed, and timeframe of care.
Knowing your personal financial goals and objectives and having an estate plan in place is crucial to making a decision about your long-term care needs and paying for services.
More to Consider
Often times in long-term care situations, an individual is not always able to communicate or execute plans for services, especially in the case of advanced Dementia or Alzheimers. This can create a hardship for caregivers as they are trying to plan for services and pay for care. To help avoid problems in planning, consider the following documents to be put into place.
Advanced Care Directive:
provides your written wishes for care and ensures care reflects your preference.
Medical Power of Attorney:
provides the ability for a person to make medical decision on your behalf when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes or care needs
Power of Attorney:
provides the ability for a person to make financial and estate decision on your behalf when you are not able. This includes paying for care, applying to assistance or making a claim on your long-term care insurance.
Understanding Long-term care and the needs you may face can be complex, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Call to schedule an appointment today to review your need.
Source: Longtermcare.gov 2020, Alzheimer's Association Website (alz.org)