April 27, 2021

Stages of Long-Term Care

Many seniors will need short- or long-term care at some point in their lives. Seniors have many different options available for senior living and/or long-term care. There are also many different ways to qualify and pay for these care options. While these choices and options can seem overwhelming, seniors will be able to analyze their situation and take their preferences into account to find the best care alternative. Below, we review the five stages of long-term care to help guide the choices available.

Stage 1 – Homecare

Homecare would typically start with someone coming in to a senior’s home to assist with challenging tasks, such as house cleaning or cooking but not involve medical care. As needs change, homecare can further progress to unskilled and, ultimately, skilled nursing care services.

Stage 2 – Assisted Living

In an assisted living situation, the senior moves into a new community, typically an apartment in a larger complex. Meals are eaten in a social setting – a dining room – and there are planned events and opportunities for social interaction. The senior’s room typically has a call button for assistance. Many people in assisted living are quite mobile and some may leave the facility for shopping or visiting outside friends or family members. In assisted living facilities, visits from family and friends are welcome. The level of assistance is adjusted to the needs of the residents. Assisted living facilities are not skilled nursing facilities, but assistance with medicine may be offered.

Stage 3 – Memory Care

For those with cognitive declines such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, memory care is often offered in a separate wing of an assisted living facility. The separation is needed to protect the residents with memory care needs with special security and safety measures, and the staff has special training to assist these residents. Special programs and activities are available to help the residents retain their skills as long as possible – to reduce the stressful feelings that are common for seniors with memory issues.

Stage 4 – Skilled Care

When a senior experiences a loss of mobility, advanced cognitive decline, or daily medical treatments or therapy, skilled care is likely going to be required. Skilled care involves medical care that is overseen by nursing or doctor supervision. Skilled nursing can be provided in the home or an outside, live-in facility. The most typical skilled care situation is a nursing home. Medicare will likely cover skilled nursing costs but approval is needed prior to moving into a facility. Here is a link to information describing Medicare’s role in skilled nursing care funding.

Stage 5 – Hospice/Palliative Care

When the situation arises that a person has completed or is near completion of all desired treatment, hospice or palliative care is provided to give comfort while the person is approaching end-of-life. Palliative care is provided when final treatment is administered to relieve pain. Hospice care often includes counseling to the person and the family. Medicare will likely cover the costs of hospice and/or palliative care. Here is a link to information from Medicare regarding such situations.

Funding for these levels of care varies. Most people in Stages 1, 2, and 3 are privately paying for this care. Only at Stage 4, when nursing care is required, will Medicare step in to pay some of the costs and for a limited time. Stage 5 is primarily paid for by Medicare.

A quick search on the internet reveals a full list of offers for long-term care insurance that can help to offset the often substantial costs of long-term care. To be effective, these insurance policies need to be purchased well in advance of the time that the long-term care is needed. Many different insurance companies offer long-term care insurance, but there can be significant differences in the products available from each company. If you belong to AARP, AARP offers a long-term care program. Suze Orman, a well-known financial adviser, has authored an article published on the AAPR site.

If you are looking to fund a long-term care policy, or if you have a life insurance policy that you do not need, do not want to keep paying for, or if you are looking to increase your bank balance, did you know that your life insurance policy could be a resource of additional security? You may be able to sell your life insurance policy in a life settlement to support your financial situation. A life settlement transaction is a powerful tool that allows life insurance policyholders to tap the market value of their life insurance policy, which they can use however they need! In a life settlement, the life insurance policyholder receives a cash offer of an amount less than the death benefit but more than the cash value from a life settlement provider. The new owner then pays all future premium payments on the policy. Life settlements are a regulated transaction, so make sure you are working with a life settlement provider or broker who is licensed in your state.

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