Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Families Shoulder More Long-Term Care Costs

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Nearly 30% of long-term care costs are paid out-of-pocket—a full 10% higher than amounts reported in widely used previous estimates. The analysis includes spending on assisted living, a key component of long-term care.

 

This study found that individuals and their families contributed an estimated $64 billion of their own funds out-of-pocket towards long-term care services in 2006. In addition, families and communities played a central role in the nation’s long-term care system by providing unpaid care valued at $350 billion.

 

To finance these contributions, most seniors and their families rely on home equity, income from adult children, or retirement savings. and that’s where the problem begins to become even more acute.

 

All of these assets have lost considerable value over the past year.  So families and seniors will have less money to fund long-term care costs.

 

The report comes out as discussion about health care reform heats up.  Long-term care has received little attention in the debate so far, and experts predict that there will be few new government dollars to cover direct LTC costs.

 

So if you are caught in the middle, paying for long-term care costs what do you do?

1.  Get a long-term care funding plan in place.  Figure out how much financial support you are providing and if it is putting your own financial situation at risk, look for other solutions.  The www.medicare.gov/caregiving site has some tips for options.  Also take a look at www.caring.com.

2. If you were counting on the sale of a home in order to fund assisted living, check with the residence you are looking at.  With more elders unable to sell their homes, some of the assisted living and nursing homes are getting creative with financing solutions.

3.  Get a plan in place for yourself — how will you pay for long-term care costs in the future without burdening your family.  If you thought you would self fund but find that your retirement assets have been hit hard, now is the time to look at long-term care insurance to determine if it is right for you.  The younger and healthier you are, the lower the cost.

4.  If you are working, check to see if your employer has an elder care assistance program.  It may be part of your EAP.  They can often help you find resources in the community to help relieve some of the burden.  Or hook you up with a care manager who can help you determine what level of support would be most appropriate.  If you are a long-distance caregiver a national program like www.yoursupportnurse.com can, for a fee, help assess the situation your loved ones are in and provide recommended solutions.  These kinds of experts can be very helpful in finding local care solutions that you might not know about.

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Written by Laura Rossman

March 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

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