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Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 25, 2016

What you need to know to help you understand and plan for long-term care.

We are living longer than ever before, and that means that long-term care is in the cards for most of us. That's a problem, because long-term care is costly. Planning ahead for long-term care expenses is critical to retirement planning, so here's what you need to know about long-term care, including some tips that can help you prepare for it.

Increasingly common

The most common reasons for requiring long-term care are stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer and those are most often diagnosed later in life. For example, more than a third of all cancer cases are diagnosed in patients older than 75 and 95% of all Alzheimer's disease cases are diagnosed in people older than 65.

Since Americans are living longer, the likelihood of requiring long-term care because of one of these conditions -- or another illness or injury -- is high. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than two out of every three Americans turning age 65 this year will require long-term care at some point in their lifetime.

Incredibly expensive

Long-term care is expensive and its cost is increasing every year. Sometimes, long-term care can be provided in home, which is cheaper, but assisted living or nursing home care is often required, and that care is no bargain.

The annual cost of an assisted living facility and a semi-private room in a nursing home is $43,539 per year and $82,125 per year, respectively.

Longer stays

About half of long-term care patients require help for more than one year, so plan on coin-flip odds of needing long-term care for more than 12 months.

Among people who receive long-term care for more than one year, the average period of time that care is needed lasts 3.9 years.

Since a lot of that care is likely to be provided in pricey nursing homes, the lifetime cost of long-term care can be sky-high.

Picking up the tab

Many people believe that the costs associated with long-term care will be picked up by private insurance or Medicare. But that's not the case.

Private insurance and Medicare will pay for some healthcare services, but only if certain requirements are met and just for a short period of time. Importantly, private insurance and Medicare won't pay for costs that are associated with custodial care or personal care services. Those costs can be significant.

Medicaid will pay for long-term care, however qualifying for Medicaid isn't easy. Most states will only consider someone eligible for Medicaid if they have limited assets and income.

Therefore, it may make sense to plan ahead and buy a long-term care insurance policy. The annual premiums associated with long-term care insurance will vary depending on age, health, and coverage, but they can be bought for a few thousand dollars per year. That may sound like a lot of money, but it's not, especially when you consider how quickly retirement savings could disappear if you're forced to pay for long-term care out of pocket.

Choosing care

It can be incredibly difficult navigating all the decisions that have to be made when its determined that a loved one requires long-term care. However, it may help to keep a few things in mind when selecting an appropriate facility for care.

First, consider if there are any facilities that specialize in the kind of care that your loved one requires. For example, some specialize in dealing with dementia patients.

Second, keep in mind that costs associated with specialized care may be higher. For instance, memory care centers can cost 30% more than regular facilities.

Third, visit multiple facilities in person so that you can see first-hand what kind of care your loved one will receive. Sources for possible facilities include family, friends, and online services, such as the Department of Health and Human Services Eldercare locator. When you go, don't be shy of asking residents and their families how they like it there. You might be surprised by the responses.

Planning ahead

Reduce the mistakes associated with making long-term care decisions by putting a plan in place ahead of time. Unfortunately, too few people appear to be doing that.

Although more than 40 million people receive Social Security, only about 8 million Americans have purchased long-term care insurance. Since most Americans will require some long-term care at some point, and 20% of Americans will require long-term care for longer than five years, putting off long-term care insurance may be foolish.

Visiting with an elder law attorney in your area may make a lot of sense as well. They focus on retirement and long-term care planning strategies that may help protect assets and that insight can be critical if Medicaid gets involved in your loved one's long-term care. Medicaid eligibility requirements include a five-year look-back period that can result in penalties if individuals attempt to qualify by gifting money or assets. Medicaid can also place a lien on your home to recoup expenses paid for long-term care after you die. Medicaid won't force a spouse to sell a home once you pass away, but it may place a lien on your home once they pass away too. A skilled elder law attorney may be able to help you avoid that risk.

Overall, the odds are that long-term care costs will quickly deplete all but the biggest retirement nest eggs. Discussing long-term care needs ahead of time may be difficult, but failing to prepare can have a long-lasting impact on your family years after you're gone. Therefore, if you're in or approaching retirement, make sure you consider the possibility of needing long-term care and take steps to protect the assets you've spent a lifetime accumulating.

The $15,834 Social Security bonus you could be missing

If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $15,834 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after.

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

The Motley Fool

What Makes Some Have a Higher Risk for Alzheimer's? – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 18, 2016

More than 300 riders geared up to raise awareness for those suffering from Alzheimer's.

Bike riders pedaled across South Carolina in the "Ride to Remember" this past weekend.

The race came on the heels of new research promising to give those with a family history of the disease a heads up about their potential risk later in life.

"Several times a day, I'm telling a patient and their family for the first time that they have Alzheimer's disease,” said Dr. James Davis, medical director for memory health at GHS.

Researchers say Alzheimer’s disease is impacting 5.4 million people in the U.S. this year.

"It's more expensive than cancer, and heart disease you think of all the caregivers that quite their jobs - you think about the economic impact on the family of providing care in a nursing home or providing care in the home."

A new study published in the journal Neurology took a group of healthy adults, ages 18 to 35, and divided them up based on their risk factors for the disease.

"They identified a group that had increased risk factors for Alzheimer's based on identifying certain genes, and then they measured the size of the Hippocampus of the two groups. They found that on average the size of the Hippocampus was smaller of those individuals who had genetic risk."

The Hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls memory - the study suggesting a link between the size and the risk factor.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and I feel like it's closeted disease. Just having our bikers go across the state and let other people know that people are dealing with this, we can be a good resource for them.

Alzheimer's impacts 5.2 million people ages 65 and older, and though this new indicator is easy for younger people to see, Dr. Davis says to be careful what answers you go looking for.

We don't have a cure for Alzheimer's disease, are you going to live with the knowledge that you are maybe at higher risk? and maybe it won't be true but every day you have to live with the fact that you took that test.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.



How to Keep Your Brain Healthy – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 15, 2016

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most frightening, yet least understood ailments we face as human beings.
The loss of memory – forgetting family, friends and the most important events of our lives — is painful, tragic and heartbreaking for anyone who is close to the person suffering from the disease.

But Alzheimer’s doesn’t just arrive one day, full blown. It begins its insidious work long before the patient has a hint of what’s happening.

Research suggests Alzheimer’s disease starts in your brain decades before you experience any symptoms.

The good news is you can find out what’s happening in your brain and, while there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do to better care for your brain.

There are steps that anyone can take to keep their brains healthy long before Alzheimer’s becomes a concern. Those include the following:

  • Maintaining a proper diet. People who focus on healthy eating often are worried about their waistline, but the brain also benefits from or is harmed by what’s on the menu. Too many Americans sustain themselves on a diet filled with sugar and processed foods, which are associated with dementia and depression, Amen says. For a healthier mind, he says, there are “super foods” that nourish the brain such as various fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts.
  • Avoiding too much alcohol and tobacco. Heavy alcohol and tobacco use lowers blood flow to the brain and reduces the ability to think over time.
  • Exercising the brain. Activities such as dancing, tennis or table tennis (which Amen calls the world’s best brain sport) boost your coordination. Mindful exercises like yoga and Tai Chi reduce anxiety, depression and increase focus.

In spite of the natural process of aging, you actually have a choice in how fast your brain ages. What you choose to do — in other words, your behavior and habits — can speed up or slow down the rate at which your brain declines with age.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.


Understanding Senior Care Options - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 11, 2016

Assisted living, home care, skilled nursing, adult day programs, memory care—these refer to just a few of the many types of senior services. While it’s great that there are a wide variety of options to fit different situations and needs, deciding which is right for your loved one can be a difficult and overwhelming process. It’s important to make a careful, informed decision, as pairing someone with the right care is essential to their health, safety and well-being.

So, where should you start?

First, assess family/caregiver and financial factors. What kind of caregiving commitment or involvement is the family or current caregiver available for? Is the current level of responsibility becoming too stressful? Is there a limited support system? Signs that a caregiver may be in over his or her head include declining physical and emotional health, job performance and parenting abilities. In general, if a caregiver seems unable to juggle other responsibilities, it may be time to seek additional support.

Financial considerations are also important. Many seniors live on a fixed monthly income, and if his or her spouse is still living, selling their home or using retirement money may not be an option. If your loved one will need your financial help in getting the care they need, it’s also important to properly assess your own financial situation and hold off on making care decisions until you’ve figured out what you and other family members can contribute.

Once you have a solid understanding of existing caregiving and financial resources, you can begin to research different care options.

Home care can be a great route for when isolated services or minimal care is needed. This type of care allows your loved one to stay in their home, and it can give the current caregiver a much-needed respite to look forward to. The services home care providers offer varies widely, from medical care and personal care assistance to help with laundry and other housekeeping duties.

One thing to keep in mind in regard to home care, though, is that while it can afford your loved one lots of one-on-one attention, it lacks the social aspect that community-based care options like assisted living provide.

Assisted living communities, as the name suggests, provide housing, healthcare, support services and activities for seniors who prefer to reside in a community setting. This can include meal assistance, medication management, transportation and help bathing or dressing. Upon moving into a community, residents receive an individualized service plan based on their health needs, to be updated as those needs change.

For seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, there are also memory care assisted living communities. These communities provide all the services offered at a traditional assisted living community in a setting designed to meet the unique needs of individuals living with memory impairment. This includes specially-designed activities, programming and building features, as well as specially-trained staff.

Memory care assisted living often comes with a high price tag, as residents typically require comprehensive daily care. Oftentimes, a home must be sold or a strong financial plan must be in place to manage the payments, but the good news is that many long-term insurance policies, as well as veterans’ benefits, will help to cover the costs.

Skilled nursing facilities offer skilled care from nurses and specialists such as physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists. This type of care is often the best option for seniors with chronic health conditions and who require ongoing medical treatment. These communities typically offer both short-term rehab and long-term care, as well as programs and activities to promote socialization, engagement and entertainment for residents.

Adult day programs can be a great option for social seniors who prefer to continue residing at home, but could benefit from a community atmosphere and certain types of assistance. Adult day programs can provide services such as transportation, medication management and medical appointment coordination, as well as meals, snacks and activities. The cost is typically based on how many services are needed, and clients are usually picked up and dropped off at home via van or bus.

While this blog is not intended as a comprehensive guide to making care decisions, it is hopefully helpful as a starting point to your research. For more information on assisted living and memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


How to Prepare for Alzheimer’s Disease – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

At the time, fewer than two million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million, according to The Alzheimer’s Association.

Most of us have been exposed to the ravages of this horrid disease through our friends, families and loved ones.

While much research is being done to help those with Alzheimer’s disease, what should you be doing today?

First, make sure you have an updated health-care power of attorney that covers not only so-called terminal illnesses but also covers who can act on your behalf for all medical issues if you are unable to do so. This is not some simple form you download from the internet but should be drafted very carefully by an attorney familiar with elder law issues.

Second, make sure you have a current durable power of attorney that covers not only simple financial matters like checking accounts but also complicated rules regarding retirement accounts, trusts, beneficiaries, gifting, look-back periods, and annuities.

In addition to the legal contents of these documents, you must carefully consider who to name as your agents. Can you trust them with money, and do they have good judgment?

Will the agent carry out your wishes or their own wishes? Will the agent be able to stand up for you and be a true advocate in terms of medical care, nursing home care, and other family members? Will the agent “boss you around?’’

You also want to choose an understanding and experience family physician to help guide you and your loved ones through the maze of medical decisions.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.