Planning for Your Own Long-Term Care
Planning for our own long-term care may not be pleasant, but it’s essential. In this guide, the National Institute on Aging shares how you can look after yourself and your future:
You can never know for sure if you will need long-term care. Maybe you will never need it. But an unexpected accident, illness, or injury can change your needs, sometimes suddenly. The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it.
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.
People with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairment should begin planning for long-term care as soon as possible.
Learn more about advance care planning.
Housing Decisions: Staying in Your Home
In thinking about long-term care, it is important to consider where you will live as you age and how your place of residence can best support your needs if you can no longer fully care for yourself.
Most people prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Learn about services, products, and resources that can help older adults stay in their homes.
Decisions About Your Health
Begin by thinking about what would happen if you became seriously ill or disabled. Talk with your family, friends, and lawyer about who would provide care if you needed help for a long time. Read about how to prepare healthcare advance directives.
You might delay or prevent the need for long-term care by staying healthy and independent. Talk to your doctor about your medical and family history and lifestyle. He or she may suggest actions you can take to improve your health.
Healthy eating, regular physical activity, not smoking, and limited drinking of alcohol can help you stay healthy. So can an active social life, a safe home, and regular health care.
Talking with Relatives About Long-Term Care
It can be difficult to make the decision about whether you or a loved one needs to leave home. Sometimes, decisions about where to care for a family member need to be made quickly, for example, when a sudden injury requires a new care plan. Other times, a family has a while to look for the best place to care for an elderly relative.
You may have had a conversation with a loved one where they asked you not to “put them” in a nursing home. Many of us want to stay in our own homes. Agreeing that you will not put someone in a nursing home may close the door to the right care option for your family. The fact is that for some illnesses and for some people, professional health care in a long-term care facility is the only reasonable choice.
Decisions About Finances
Long-term care can be expensive. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on various services. How people pay for long-term care depends on their financial situation and the kinds of services they use. Often, they rely on a variety of payment sources, including:
- Personal funds, including pensions, savings, and income from stocks
- Government health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid
- Private financing options, such as long-term care insurance
- Veterans’ benefits
- Services through the Older Americans Act
Learn more about paying for care.
For more information about long-term care:
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Reprinted courtesy of the National Institute on Aging, http://www.nia.nih.gov/.