We don’t like to discuss it, even with our closest loved ones, but our later years will be marked by a more than likely decline in physical or mental health. In many cases, both our physical bodies and our cognitive functioning declines, as we get older. That means we have to plan for the probability that we will need long term care and our families will be too busy or for a variety of reasons unable to provide us the quality and type of care we will probably need.
Why You Should Talk to Your Parents About Their Care
Much like retirement, our long-term care is something that will require significant resources and a strategy. In addition to choosing the right facility and type of care, your parents will have to be able to afford that care with little or no help from us. Medicare won’t cover this type of care. Conversely, there are insurance companies that do provide this type of coverage, but the premiums are expensive and continue to rise along with inflation. This leaves the individual or the couple to shoulder the cost of care on their own.
Breaking down those costs, a private room in a typical nursing home averages $135,000, which represents an increase of 4.17% from 2017. Of course, costs vary by location as well, but a semi-private room in the vicinity of metro Washington DC runs about $168,000 a year. That represents a 6% spike.
The annual care costs in assisted living facilities saw a less significant increase, up by 2.86%. Currently, the average annual cost is $63,200. Even if your parent remains reasonably healthy and can manage with a home health aide, you should expect that to cost $20 per hour of service. Over a year, that cost starts at $46,904.
The least expensive option for families on a budget is adult day care. The average cost of this service is currently $69 a day, which represents a 5.94% increase from last year.
Having the Talk
As those numbers indicate, the cost of long term care can be considerable, and a clear strategy is needed for making it affordable. Regardless of the type of service your parent will require, paying for it will require some planning.
When you take the time to discuss this need with your parents, try not to be too forceful with them. After all, they’re used to being in control and won’t be receptive to an adversarial confrontation with you. Perhaps begin the conversation by taking about their plans for retirement. Once you get them talking about that, you can expand into the types of care situations they would prefer.
You might also share some of your own research. Explain that most seniors are unprepared for their long term care needs and that insurance probably won’t help. It might be helpful to explain that care often depletes most savings in less than a year, so, even if they do have a nice nest egg put away, it will likely wither away pretty quickly.
Finally, suggest hiring an elder law attorney to help with planning this aspect of their lives. You may have to explain that estate planning involves more than wills and inheritances. An experienced elder law professional, such as Mindy Felinton, can help your parents plan for their future care. This will eliminate everyone’s concerns about how your parents will afford the level of care they will need later in life. By working with someone experienced with the needs of elders, your parents can ensure they’ll receive quality care and live in comfort at a time when they will need it most.