In a previous article, we discussed what short-term care was and the benefits that Medicare offers its beneficiaries. We found that after just 100 days, Medicare coverage runs out.
What does that mean for long-term care?
To put it simply, Medicare offers NO long-term care benefits.
Let’s discuss what long-term care is and what older adults can do to help with the overwhelming cost of its services.
Long-Term Care: A Definition
Long-term care is also referred to as custodial care.
It can take place in several places: at home (usually by unpaid family members), nursing homes, and adult day care centers.
Wherever long-term care is given, it generally involves help with daily living activities. Providers of long-term care help with grooming, dressing, moving to and from beds and chairs, eating, transportation, and restroom assistance.
Providers may also assist individuals with any medical-related activities like administering medications, eye drops, etc.
Types of Home-Based Long-Term Care
As we mentioned, long-term care can take place in a variety of settings. Most often, this takes place in either the individual’s home or the home of a family member. There are five kinds of home-based long-term care.
Home Health Care
There are Medicare-approved agencies that provide part-time home health services that have been ordered by a physician. Home health care providers may provide speech, occupational, or physical therapy, or just services that help an individual recover from a recent surgery.
Personal Care Services
The same agencies that provide home health care offer services that do not require a physician’s order. The services are less medically related and include preparing meals, grooming, dressing, and household chores.
Senior Companion Services
Senior Companions do not help with daily living activities. These are volunteers who visit seniors in their homes and spend a couple of hours with them. While these are often volunteers, there are also agencies that these services can be purchased from.
Some public transits do offer services for individuals with disabilities, but there are transportation services that cater to the elderly. They have automobiles that are equipped to transport wheelchairs and electric chairs and can take seniors to doctor’s appointments and grocery stores.
Emergency Medical Alerts
You’ve seen the commercials for these. The individual is provided a necklace or bracelet with a button they can push in case of emergencies. Monthly fees are charged for these services.
How can I afford these services?
Since Medicare does not offer long-term care benefits, older adults will have to purchase other insurance or find assistance from other programs.
PACE: Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
While not available in every state, PACE is a great option for those still able to live at home. It can offer assistance for medical costs, long-term care costs, and social services. It also offers assistance for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
SHIP: State Health Insurance Assistance Program
This is a national program that offers assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and their families.
If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for long-term care at home or in a facility.
Medicaid is offered to low-income individuals and families. The requirements and eligibility to qualify for Medicaid vary from state to state.
As you likely know by now, long-term care is common for many older adults. The longer we age, the more likely we are going to find ourselves needing long-term care. Since Medicare does not provide coverage and the cost of long-term care continues to rise, it is important to understand your options and have a plan for the future.