The duration and level of long-term care will vary from person to person and often change over time but on average, someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.1
By 2050, the number of individuals using paid long-term care services in any setting (e.g., at home, residential care such as assisted living, or skilled nursing facilities) will likely double from the 13 million using services in 2000, to 27 million people. This estimate is influenced by growth in the population of older people in need of care.2
Planning for long term care is important because the statistics show if you live beyond 65 there is good chance you will need some form of long term care services. By planning ahead, you have more options. You may be able to protect assets for uses other than long term care, it allows you time to understand resources available in your community, and find public and private sources to pay for long term care, which is important since the average cost of long term care often exceeds what someone can pay.
What are the warning signs it’s time to plan:
- Your family member’s health has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Your mom has been living alone for a long time and getting by. You didn’t want to rock the boat by discussing what happens when she begins to have more bad days than good. However, when that day arrives, you need to take action. If your elderly loved one has suffered a health setback, such as a stroke or even just more pain or cognitive issues than usual, it’s time to think about long term care planning. If you’re getting concerned that they may need extensive care in the near future, planning is a wise decision.
- A diagnosis is certain. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease or a disease that causes long-term debilitation, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or cancer, consider long term care planning.
- You are growing increasingly worried about the cost of elder care.
- You can’t be there to help as much as your loved one needs you to be.
There are many long term care options available such as home health agencies, assisted living, nursing homes, hospices, residential care communities, and adult day care services. Bratton Scott’s life care planning team can help figure out the appropriate level of care needed and assist with the legal and financial planning.
One of the most tragic things that can happen is realizing that a family member needs long-term care or other assistance now – when you are forced to scramble to get information and make decisions. For healthcare and financial reasons, beginning the discussion and sitting down with a life-care planning team consisting of an Elder Law attorney and Elder Care Coordinator, who will work to understand your family’s unique needs, is a good idea.
As with all elder law and estate planning, the sooner you consult with an attorney and map out a plan, the more money you’ll be able to protect, and the more choices you will have. But, it’s never too late to start.
2 Source caregiver.org/selected-long-term-care-statistics