Tips for Making a Long Term Care Claim. Strategic Decisions as You Age.

By Betty J. Albitz, CLU, ChFC, CCPS
Integrated Inc. Wealth Advisors
Follow Ed Slott and Company on Twitter: @theslottreport

Take a look at elder care facilities. Go shopping for your “next home” – now.

TIMING:  Many facilities have long waiting lists (up to 5 years). And in addition, usually you can “defer” 3 times. So, buy yourself some time and get the advantage by signing up today. Don’t be surprised if you are asked for a down payment with your waiting list application, it can be up to one month’s rent ($3000-$6000). This down payment would be deducted from your initial rent/expenses or refunded if you decided not to move into the facility. Also, take into consideration rising costs. Consider renting a one-bedroom +den vs. 2-bedroom if your cash-flow is limited. That $500/month difference can be significant when rent increases by 3-5%/year. 

BUDGET:  Think about the progression of the care you may need. Does the facility offer a continuum of services that allows you to stay in the same place? Or, would you need to move (even to a different building) as your condition wanes. 

SOCIAL:  What do you like to do? Does the facility offer transportation services? Would you have access to your church or synagogue? Do they provide social interaction and activities? How about a library or game room?  Movie watching? Make a list of the things you like to do and/or how you like to enjoy time with friends. Would this new home be accessible to the things you like to do?

TRUSTED ADVOCATE:  This could be one of your adult children or grandchildren. Pick this person now and explain how you want your life to be played out with regard to medical, activities, religion, etc. Choose someone who will be your voice when you cannot. My experience has been that this is more often a female than male. Said another way, the sons seem to vanish when mom needs help, or they deny that mom needs help. I witness many daughters-in-law explaining to their husband, grandma’s son, that she needs help (getting to the doctor, visits, making decisions, etc).      

ACTVITIES OF DAILY LIVING:  Recently I made a long term care insurance (LTCI) claim for my parents. I requested the in-take interview with the insurance company, and being their daughter, I also sat in the intake-interview. It was interesting in learning the language the nurse (aka insurance company) was after with regard to the activities of daily living (ADL). 

The insurance company uses “incontinence”, my parents understood “depends pads.” The insurance company was seeking validation for a “fall risk”, my parents understood, the bathroom floor is slippery and I need to be extra careful. The insurance company wanted to review “transferability”, my parents understood that they need to use chair-arms to remove themselves from the chair as well as to hold on to the table because they feel dizzy when they stand up.

The biggest fear the people have, when I talk about making a LTCI claim, is the loss of independence. Having the car taken away or losing the little job they have, or being forced to move to a facility, which they don’t like. I clarify with my clients that our goal is to have you live a happy, independent life in a lovely comfortable home (of your choosing) and for you to maintain the highest quality of life that you can.      


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