I want to share some points about caring for the elders in our families during the pandemic. The research (1), reported in a Sept 4, 2020 article in McKnights Senior Living, found:
Among family caregivers surveyed:
+ 65% said COVID-19 has completely changed their opinions about the best way to care for older adults,
+ 68% said they don’t agree that quality care can be provided in assisted living and other congregate care settings, and
+ 78% said they are concerned their loved one will contract COVID-19 in a facility.
Individuals in CT who apply for the Husky (MedicAid) day to day living assistance program do have some alternatives, if they qualify, but most support would be in a Skilled Nursing Facility (Nursing Home).
What this tells me – when a family elder needs assistance with day to day life activities – its best to:
+ have professional caregivers come to the home.
+ own a Long Term Care insurance plan. Family members can then use the pool of money the plan creates to hire needed professional caregivers.
These pages on my Long Term Care insurance sites may be useful.
Sharing an important point the last day of November’s Long Term Care Awareness Month. Owning what I like to call Long Term “Health” insurance can have a positive effect on taxes for some individuals.
How? The IRS considers the cost a person has for a tax-qualified Long Term insurance plan a medical expense. Thus, when they complete their annual IRS 1040 tax return they are eligible to take an age based partial deduction.
The deduction, though small for many, is the specific amount shown in the following age range list not the annual cost they pay for their plan. Having a tax deduction of any size results in their overall plan cost being a little lower!
The IRS reports the allowable deduction which can be used when completing the 2019 1040 is:
-•- age 40 and under = $420. The same as in 2018.
-•- 41 through 50 = $790. Up from $780.
-•- 51 through 60 = $1,580. Up from $1,560.
-•- 61 through 70 = $4,220. Up from $4,160.
-•- 71 and older = $5,270. Up from $5,200.
How to take this deduction? The amount from this schedule can be added to any other unreimbursed medical care expenses. If an under 65 person’s total medical expenses are above 10% of their Adjusted Gross Income this amount is a deduction. Individuals 65 and older can deduct amounts if medical expenses are above 7.5%.
John C Parker, RHU, LTCP
November and Long-Term Care awareness month is almost over but wanted to share a couple things “Uncle Sam” is telling us about Long Term Care insurance:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration On Aging site focuses on long term care services & supports highlights five Myths vs Facts – about Long Term Care – insightful!
This page of the Basics Section of the site has information on Who Needs Care. One statement is very important:
” Poor diet and exercise habits increase your chances of needing long-term care.”
Additional information focused on long term care here in CT can be found on my site:
John C Parker, RHU, LTCP
Sharing information about the assistance a person can receive when they need help getting around after a change in health. Why think about this? Because over 80% of us have a relative or know someone, who is now or has. This tells us the risk we also may need support is very high!
What types of support can be received?
The assistance to support a person with their day to day life functions such as eating, dressing, bathing, going to the toilet, or transferring say from a bed to a chair.
How often do people need these services?
Some facts about assistance:
• > By age 75 – 70% or more of us will need assistance at some time! People 75 and older have 2 or 3 chronic conditions, on average, and some 10 or 12.
• > By age 85 or older 20% are using support services.
Some general points about assistance:
• > Some develop because as we age and “parts wear out” and others because they have trouble with mental ability.
• > People often think their health won’t deteriorate and will just die one day! That would be nice, however, no one knows if they will or won’t need assistance.
• > 88% of people worry about having physical limitations.
• > Advanced medical treatments & prescriptions have increased longevity to about age 79 (on average) in 2018. Living longer is great but it means the change a person will need assistance and for a longer period is much higher.
• >A need for support can develop at any age; last for several months, such as after a stroke, or be permanent like the accident Christopher Reeves (Superman) had.
Where is this assistance received?
• > About 80% is in a person’s home and it usually begins with family members being the caregivers. When professionals are used the support often starts with a Homemaker (often called a Companion) preparing meals and providing non-medical support.
• > When hands-on assistance is needed a LPN or RN would come to the house.
Note: The 2018 American Association of Long Term Care Insurance study of new long term care claims found 52% started with Home services – 20% in Assisted Living – 28% in a Nursing home.
How much does this assistance cost? This special kind of support in Connecticut is some of the most expensive in the US. For example:
• > Having a certified home health aide come to your home say for 4 days a week at six hours can be about $675. This could grow to over $5,500 a month in say 15 years.
• > Assisted Living Facility rates can be $6,600 or more a month today in the Hartford, New London & Norwich area.
What to do?
It is difficult to think about an “unexpected” change in health and needing support. However, the old saying — “Life is what happens when you are making other plans” — is so so true today!
First — the risk help will be needed is very high so it’s important to think about:
• > Do you want to stay at home?
• > Do you have a pile of money to pay very expensive professionals or could family help pay? Most people don’t so”Running out of money” is a very Big Concern for many.
Second — Buy long term care insurance to meet your interest.
A person develops a need for assistance following a change of health so I believe calling this special coverage Long Term “Health” insurance is a better way to describle what it does. When you buy a plan the company creates a pool of funds, which can be accessed to hire professionals. Owning a Long Term “Health” insurance plan thus means:
• > A Spouse/Family won’t be burdened with all the assistance.
• > Children won’t have to change their work and life to come to help you!
• > Your hard earned saving nest egg will be mostly protected.
• > You will — Be in Control of your living situation — be able to Maintain Dignity — not become a Burden on loved ones.
Do you live in Connecticut and have questions or want to learn more about Long Term “Health” insurance? Call John C Parker, RHU, LTCP — (860) 739-0005
Buying this special insurance to protect your savings means:
- You have peace of mind knowing you won’t burden family to assist. They will be free to manage the professionals providing your assistance, help as they can, plus care about you.
- You can be as independent as possible in your home and retain your dignity since you have funds to hire assistance.
- Children won’t have to face the difficult and emotional tasks of helping parents with personal functions such as using the toilet!
- Conflict won’t develop between sons/daughters, over spending parent’s saving nest egg for one vs retaining funds for the other.
This post shares some informative and insightful points from a talk Dr. Ken Dychtwald gave during the 2015 Aging in America Conference. His talk was last March and titled – Maturity Re-Imagined. It brings out points to think about on living the rest of your life.
Related to living longer and getting older, the month of May is celebrated each year as Older American Month. I especially like this year’s theme. Get into the Act. It’s focus is to increase awareness and encourage individuals to get more involved and to take action on their health.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services has a web site page on the Older American Month. Part of its statement on the program’s History is shown here:
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Now back to some thoughts on Dr. Dychtwald’s talk. A video of his talk at the American Society on Aging conference can be found here. It’s a little over 40 minutes and for anyone interested in getting older it will really be worth your time.
Dr. Dychtwald strongly recommends a need for new thinking on maturing and reviews, during his talk, the need for new ways to think about the areas of – Health – Family – Work – Leisure – Home – Finance – Purpose.
One key point in the talk, which was of interest to me, is the need to focus more on people being Interdependent. Much of our education and thinking has been on the importance of being Independent. In other words we should be doing things together vs on our own.
The month of November has been designated Long Term Care Awareness Month for the last several years. It is however important to prepare for needing on-going assistance and buying this special kind of insurance no mater what time of year it may be.
I believe sharing thoughts from other individuals will help consumers in Connecticut better understand what best be called long term health insurance. Comments on the value of Long Term Care insurance are brought out in four short videos on LifeHappens.org.
First – the value to them in being able to receive the kind of assistance they need and want.
Second – why they did not want to be a burden on others
Third – why it was important to buy early.
Fourth – comments on the peace of mind they gained from Long Term Care insurance.
Many people plan for upcoming events in their lives. Most however, don’t plan for a significant event – not being able to care for themselves!Posted: September 28, 2014
Even though most don’t make preparations taking steps to plan for the kind of help you would like is important. What to do? The most effective approach is to buy what is best called “Long Term Health insurance”. Taking this action today will not stop health problems from developing but does mean you can gain:
- A lower cost: Premiums for this important insurance are based on your age the day you enroll, your health situation, and the level of benefits you select. Premiums can be three times higher at age 70 than when you are 50 so buying early is important.
- More benefits: Waiting to age 55 means you would have to buy an initial benefit pool of over $400,000 to achieve the same protection as someone who bought an initial pool of $250,000 at age 45. How? The 45 year old’s plan included the 5% compound inflation option. Waiting to 55 also means your premium for this initial pool of money will be higher! Why? You are 10 years older. IOW a dollar buys more benefits the younger you are.
- A good health discount: A study by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), a professional association I’m actively involved in, reports 53.9% of people between 40 and 49 qualify for a good health discount. Between 50 to 59 it drops to 44.2% – 60 to 69 it’s 31.9% – 70 to 79 it’s only 18.8%.
- A better chance of being accepted: Another AALTCI study found up to 33% of individuals 60 to 69 did not qualify for this “protection for your finances” because they had health problems. 13.9% of individuals 50 to 59 were declined in this study of 10 leading long term care insurance companies.
Buying “Long Term Health insurance” also means you won’t become a burden on family having used up income, your nest egg, and becoming poor.
Live in Connecticut? You can learn more about why owning Long Term Care insurance is better than following a plan of “I’ll wait and see” – www.LongTermCareIns-CT.com
Contact John C Parker<RHU, LTCP if questions – (860) 739-0005