Reaching menopause gives us a natural place in which to pause and evaluate where we’ve been and where we’re going. We can look at our accomplishments thus far, where we want to go, and also how we want to live. We also need to begin to think about how we want to age. And in many cases, we’re dealing with aging relatives and friends who increasingly need some sort of assistance.
This brings me to the topic of long-term care. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has developed a website about long-term care. “Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time. These services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own,” the NIH website notes.
It’s important information to think about since NIH has found that almost 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need some type of this care during their lifetime. Furthermore, women are more likely to need long-term care since they often live longer. In addition, the risk that you’ll need this type of insurance increases as you age and can be influenced by your marital status (single people may need help from a paid provider), lifestyle (poor diet and lack of exercise can increase your risk), and health and family history.
The need for long-term care often arises during a serious, ongoing health condition or disability, whether a sudden illness or injury or as part of the aging process. Long-term care can include personal care that helps with your daily living (such as bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.) It also can include community services such as meals, adult day care and transportation services. Some long-term care services are free while other services may charge a fee.
This website provides excellence information about the types of long-term care as well as the legal documents you need to have in place. “The best time to think about long-term care is BEFORE you need it,” the website states. “Planning for the possibility of long-term care gives you time to learn about services in your community and what they cost. It also allows you to make important decisions while you are still able. You will need to make health decisions, legal decisions, and financial decisions.”
The NIH site encourages older Americans to consider their financial situation. “Government health insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, pay for some long-term care services but not others,” the website notes. The site recommends thinking about what financial resources (such as a person or retirement fund, income from stocks and bonds, or your home) that can be used. “It’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage too. Many health insurance plans provide little, if any, coverage for long-term care. Review any private health insurance, Medicare, and Medigap policies to learn exactly what is covered and what is not,” the NIH website recommends.
Thinking about aging – whether it’s your own or a family member’s – isn’t easy, but by taking the time to make appropriate plans puts you in the driver’s seat. And that’s where you want to be when you face a long-term care situation.
Published On: June 28, 2011