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Need Some TLC? Oops! I Mean L-T-C!

Okay, we’ve got ourselves another touchy subject: who will take care of us when we can’t quite manage on our own?  We may be okay at home but no longer able to do all the regular chores: shopping, putting healthy meals together, showering, getting to the bathroom on time and on our own.  We don’t need a nursing home, not yet, but can’t stay home unless we have regular help.  Regular help is expensive, and while friends and family members may pitch in,  they will need relief, too.  This is precisely where long-term care insurance might come in very, very handy.

So what exactly is long-term care insurance, or LTCI?  It is an insurance plan that helps you pay for long-term care.  And what is long-term care? Ah!  Long-term care includes all sorts of medical and support services for someone with a degenerative condition (think Parkinson’s or lingering stroke damage), a prolonged illness such as cancer or kidney disease or a cognitive disorder (dementia, Alzheimer’s).  It also includes care for accident victims and illnesses such as MS, so it’s not only for the elderly.  And it means providing custodial care, not just medical care, assistance with the tasks and activities of daily living: dressing; bathing or showering; eating; using the bathroom; transferring (moving from a chair, the bed, or a car); incontinence.

While the mere mention of ‘long-term care’ invariably summons up visions of depressing nursing homes and bed sores, take heart!  Today, long-term care insurance means home care coverage.  That you can get the care you need to stay home is the number one benefit of this coverage.  At present, there are some 7.6 million  individuals receiving care at home; 45% of all recent individual long-term care insurance policy benefits went for home care.  Some 33% of all individual long-term care insurance policy benefits went for assisted living care costs, while only 24% of LTCI benefits paid for nursing home care.

Who is most likely to need long-term care?  You are more at risk if you:

  • are a woman
  • are older
  • are single
  • have had a poor diet
  • do not exercise regularly
  • continue to smoke
  • have a family history of Alzheimer’s, stroke, RA, or other degenerative diseases
  • undertake physical activities that can cause severe injuries from accidents – you’re an avid motorcyclist, for example
The real value of long-term care insurance is that:  
  • It supports your independence by providing a way to pay for home care and assisted living costs.
  • It gives you choices and options you might otherwise not have.
  • It protects loved ones from the burdens of care giving.  In fact, some experts think it could be called ‘nursing home and family care giving prevention insurance‘!
Next up: how LTCI works; how to apply; where to get more info.
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