3 Reasons to Talk with Seniors About Long-Term Care
3 Reasons to Talk with Seniors About Long-Term Care – Helping a loved one plan for long-term care can be a challenging conversation to start. Seniors have enough reminders of their mortality — and we certainly don’t want to think about our family members getting sick and needing care. This is one of many reasons we tend to avoid having this hard talk. In fact, while 70 percent of seniors say they don’t want to be a burden, less than 50 percent have talked with their family about their wants and needs for long-term care and final arrangements.
Do you need a reason to get the conversation started? How about three: Medicare, modifications, and money.
Medicare Doesn’t Cover Everything — There Will Be Gaps You Need to Fill
Some seniors (and their family members) think because they have Medicare, all their health needs will be covered, but that’s often not the case for long-term care. While Medicare can provide invaluable coverage for many seniors, it falls short when it comes to in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. To understand what the program does cover, you should help your senior think about the coverage you need and want. For example, if they’ll need help with covering prescriptions, dental, and vision, they will need to budget for a supplemental Medicare Advantage plan. You can sign up for Medicare the month before, during and after you turn 65, or during open enrollment, which runs from October 15 to December 7. During this window, anyone 65 or older can sign up for Medicare Parts A, B and/or Part C.
Home Modifications Should Be a Preventative Measure
Some people think of home modifications — changes you make so that your loved one’s home is more safe and accessible — only after an accident, injury or illness has occurred. That kind of thinking is likely to result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Talk to your senior friend or family member about changes you should make to both prevent and prepare for these situations. For example, consider moving your loved one’s bedroom downstairs if it is currently on the second floor to reduce the risk of them slipping or falling on the stairs. Install handrails, bright lights, and non-slip floors in the kitchen and bathroom to make those rooms safer and more accessible. If there is a potential for mobility issues, consider setting aside funds to build a ramp next to the front and back doorsteps, as well as widening narrow doorways so walkers and wheelchairs can easily fit through.
Fixed Incomes Leave Little Room for Adaptability
If your loved one is planning on living on a fixed income for retirement, they will have very little wiggle room when it comes to their finances. If you don’t help them plan for all possibilities now, even the slightest change could be catastrophic. The cost of medicines could go up, their home could need an unexpected repair, they could fall and require physical therapy — all of these are very common scenarios seniors face. Other situations — like Alzheimer’s or dementia — are sadly becoming more and more common, as well. Help your loved one take a look at their finances so they can start building a safety net should any of these situations arise. They can purchase long-term care insurance, take out a fixed mortgage, downsize to a smaller, more affordable house, sell a life insurance policy, or cash in on dividends from investments.
Aging alone can be a really intimidating — if not downright scary — situation for a person over 65. While this conversation may feel awkward or uncomfortable, it also shows them that they are not alone. They have you as a support, and the best way to be supportive is to help them create a plan for living a healthy, happy, and independent life.
Watch Youtube Video: Having the Conversation: Advance Care Planning for Long-Term Care Residents, Families and Caregivers. This educational video focuses on helping residents, family members and caregivers prepare for health care planning in the golden years.
About the Author
June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
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