Long Term Care is Long Term Caring
It is a difficult conversation to strike up. “So what about when we get old?” It’s even harder to have the “so what about when you get old?” conversation. Society and the media, as we are well aware, pay scant attention to the existence of most anyone over 45, much less the care that most of us will need as we approach our autumn and winter years.
We need to have a serious shift in how we think about long term care if we are going to address and ameliorate the problems our generations and future generations face in terms of finding high quality, affordable long term care. Not talking about it will not solve the issue.
Many people feel that relying on long term care is somehow a sign of weakness. This misconception needs to go away if we are to have happier lives. Our lifespans continue to increase and no matter how healthy you are, you will probably need to rely on a caregiver in some capacity. If we can rethink how we imagine independence, we can foster a generation of people willing to capitalize on the network of support we already have.
Long term care falls into two categories: ADLs and IADLs. ADLs are “Activities of Daily Living” and include the more traditional ideas of long term care: bathing, toilet use, and eating. IADL stands for “Instrumental Activities of Daily Living” and this support focuses on scheduling and setting up appointments, pet care, and help around the house, as well as a few assorted healthcare tasks. There is diversity in the solutions people need, and long term caregivers can provide that.
A step towards undermining what personal apprehension we have about relying on long-term care requires becoming aware of the face behind the care. Caregivers often feel deeply devoted to their clients, and re-envisioning the caregiver-care recipient partnership as less of a client-oriented relationship and more of a community-based support relationship.
Long term care, as necessary and fantastic as it is comes with a significant cost. Although cost is often not the primary underlying reason retirees reject signing on with long term care providers, it is the most invoked cause, and a very real concern for many. For many, the affordable care act gave hope that long term care would be covered or at least subsidized in some manner, but that the ACA does not offer coverage for these health needs.
Indeed, the best defense is a good offense. For individuals who are still young, it is best to start preparing now. Consider investing in long term care insurance in the event that you look at your family medical history and notice a heightened risk of degenerative or progressive diseases in order to protect against financial fallout.
For those of us who are not spring chickens, the return on insurance may not outweigh the cost of investing in it at this point; however that does not mean you shouldn’t investigate your options as you might be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else, make sure to start setting aside money so that you aren’t caught unawares by this expensive additional cost.
No matter your age, long term care is in your future—you should start preparing now; however, keep in mind that although it is an urgent discussion to have, it should not be a dreaded one as the face of long term care is changing and our attitudes should accommodate it.
Barbara Davis works with Compare Long Term Care—an organization dedicated to helping people navigate the maze of long term care insurance.