Premier Senior Living...
Because it's how you live that Matters

Senior Assisted Living Blog

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis is Expensive for Famiy Caregivers - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 23, 2016

Costs often exceed other types of elder care.

As the world marks Alzheimer’s Day on Wednesday, a new survey shows just how costly the disease can be for family caregivers.

A poll released this week found that families caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia tend to spend more of their own money on caregiving expenses than those looking after an older person without dementia. Some 18% of caregivers to loved ones with dementia spent $20,000 or more on caregiving expenses in the past 12 months, compared with 11% of caregivers to loved ones without dementia.

Caring for Alzheimer’s patients and other elderly relatives can weigh heavily on peoples’ careers as well as finances, explaining why both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are proposing new benefits for family caregivers.

More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating type of dementia with no cure and no lasting treatment. The disease takes an enormous toll on families, emotionally, physically and financially. It devours their loved ones and, in the process, can swallow life savings whole.

“I felt like a money machine, but it was my mom and it was what I wanted to do,” says Dayna Steele, chief caring expert for and author of Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s becomes more expensive as the disease progresses and the needs of patients mount. People eventually need round-the-clock care, making it very difficult for them to remain safely in their homes. The national median cost of a nursing home is $82,125 for a semi-private room and $92,345 for a private room.

Medicare does not cover so-called custodial care, which is what patients with dementia generally need the most—that is, help with eating, bathing, dressing and other basic daily activities. So those costs must be paid for entirely out of pocket unless the patient’s assets are depleted and she or he meets strict qualifications for Medicaid.

All too commonly, caregivers don’t have the full picture on their loved one’s finances, and it’s tough to put the pieces together once a patient’s memory starts to slip.

Advice: Quit avoiding the conversation. While it’s hard to talk about money and potential future incapacity, it’s even harder to deal with silence around the topic.

For more information on Alzheimer's Care, contact Spring Arbor.



How to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 19, 2016

There’s plenty not to love about being middle-aged. But by the time today’s forty- and fifty-somethings reach the age when they may develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (one in 20 people develop dementia under 65 but above that age a person’s risk doubles roughly every five years), it’s likely we’ll know more about its early signs and probably have drugs to treat it before it even shows symptoms.

Perhaps even more heartening, increasing evidence shows that dementia is not inevitable. This week, scientists at Harvard published research on an elite group of retired people, dubbed ''super agers’’, who have brains that resemble those of people a third their age, which could provide vital clues about how to prevent declines in memory.

Studies are studying how biomarkers in people aged 40-59 may help predict changes in cognitive function, are set to confirm this further.

“In the next 10 years we’re going to get more and more evidence about the things people can do to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Craig Ritchie, professor of the psychiatry of ageing at the University of Edinburgh who is leading the trial.

“Our aim is to be able to take any given individual and say, 'Well your risk is X per cent and here are the things you can personally do to help prevent it.’ ”

So, what do we know?

Forget Sudoku and learn a language

Brain stimulation, not brain training, is essential in preventing cognitive decline. The key to the former is social interaction.

“Chatting, being socially interactive with friends and in a work environment is probably what lights up your brain more than anything else. I often get asked, 'I do lots of crosswords and Sudoku, will that protect me from dementia?’”

But the evidence now suggests that taking up new hobbies and interests that challenge you are more beneficial. “So, if you’ve done crosswords your whole life, learning to play the piano at 65 is going to have more benefit on your cognitive health than keeping doing things you have always done.”

Build your cognitive reserve

Protecting the brain against dementia is all about building cognitive reserve – the connections within the brain network.

As we age, the brain shrinks and these connections weaken but the bigger your cognitive reserve is, the longer you’ll last before suffering memory problems. Stimulating the brain with certain behaviors help to maintain cognitive reserve.

Someone with high cognitive reserve would be someone with a mixture of high education, a complex lifetime occupation and high levels of social engagement in old age.

The more of these factors you have, she says, the more protected you may be – if you develop a bit of cognitive impairment, it will take longer for it to turn into dementia.

In July this year, occupational scientists at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre in Wisconsin graded jobs according to how much intellectual engagement they provide. They found those less associated with the development of Alzheimer’s in later life were those that worked in complex jobs involving other people.

While lawyers, social workers, teachers and doctors were best protected, those who enjoyed the least protection included shelf-stackers, machine operators and laborers.

Aspirin and the brain


Some studies have suggested long-term use of aspirin is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. One Swedish study found that women over 70 who took low-dose aspirin because they were at high risk of heart disease were found to have better memory and cognitive function after five years than those who didn’t.

Now, the biggest study into the effects of aspirin on the heart and the brain is set to confirm the link.

“Aspirin acts to reduce the risk of blood clotting and therefore heart attack and stroke, and both of those two things are associated with measurable effects on cognitive function,” says Jane Armitage, professor of clinical trials at Oxford University who is leading the research. Results are expected in 2018.

In the meantime, remember aspirin can have side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke, so talk to your doctor to see if it will benefit you.

Should I take fish oils?

Although small studies such as one, published in 2014 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, have found that supplementation with omega-3 helped slow the decline of cognitive function on those with Alzheimer’s disease, no substantial studies have yet affirmed the link.

So the jury’s still out, but it does look like eating fish regularly, particularly oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, as part of a balanced diet is good for overall health, including brain health.

Healthy body, healthy brain

The same processes that cause heart attacks and strokes are also associated with the development of dementia. Of the seven key risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s – high blood pressure and obesity in mid-life, diabetes, smoking, low levels of physical activity, low education and lifetime depression – five are associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

So the lifestyle factors that help the heart – avoiding smoking, keeping to a healthy weight and taking regular exercise – can also maintain cognitive function.

Evidence suggests the ideal diet to prevent dementia is a Mediterranean-style one rich in polyunsaturated fat from nuts, seeds and fish, vegetables, fruit and grains (and small amounts of red wine).

Meanwhile, all the scientists said moderate exercise as the number one factor that could help prevent the onset of dementia. And it doesn’t even have to be very hard.

Just try and move more, from taking a 20-minute walk on most days to having a swim. 'Doing a sport is particularly helpful as it also involves social engagement, which is hugely important.

(A little) red wine is fine

News to pop a cork over came out when scientists found that consuming one to three glasses of bubbly a week might help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

They claimed the phenolic compounds present in pinot noir and pinot Meniere – two of the grapes used to make champagne – had the ability to increase spatial memory, improve cognitive function and promote learning and memory retention.

Although the champagne study was done on rats, Prof. Ritchie says that while high levels of drinking are undoubtedly damaging to the brain, there is some evidence suggesting small amounts of red wine, in particular, may help.

Experts advise sticking to the government recommended limit of 14 units spread over a week – equivalent to six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

For information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor.


The Telegraph

HHHunt Opening Assisted Living Cottages in Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 09, 2016

One of the biggest homebuilders in the Richmond area has added to its assisted-living portfolio with the purchase of a stalled project in western Henrico County.

HHHunt purchased the property at 10601 Barbara Lane earlier this week through federal bankruptcy court. It plans to complete construction and open the facility in December or January as Spring Arbor Cottages of Richmond.

“This really is a nice complement to our current portfolio,” said Rich Williams, HHHunt’s senior vice president of senior living management.

The facility was built for memory care, catering particularly to patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Consisting of three buildings or small houses, with a circular design, it has 16 apartments in each building and private bathrooms for residents.

The design of the facility was especially appealing to Henrico-based HHHunt. They provide memory care services in that small-house model that enables them to provide a totally different service that’s unique to the industry.

Spring Arbor, HHHunt’s senior living division, has another senior living facility about 2 miles from the Spring Arbor Cottages of Richmond. Having this small-house campus right around the corner really expands their platform.

For more information on assisted living that is unique and just like home, contact Spring Arbor.


“Keep Connected” During National Assisted Living Week - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 07, 2016

National Assisted Living Week is September 11-17, 2016.The 2016 theme is “Keep Connected,”  through family, friends and technology we can enhance the care and overall experience in assisted living communities.

“Keep Connected” acknowledges the myriad ways assisted living staff and supporting business partners are revolutionizing the care provided in these communities through innovations in technology.

But it is about more than technology. Assisted living reminds us that sometimes the best relationships are formed face-to-face. For many staff members, residents become family, and this bond can never be broken. Meanwhile, assisted living communities are an integral part of the larger community. Staff cultivates connections with local families, business owners, government organizations, community organizers and others to ensure that residents remain an active part of where they call home.

For more information on  an assisted living community that keeps connected, contact Spring Arbor.


Assisted Living Homes: What you Didn’t Know – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 29, 2016

If you’re just beginning your search for a senior community to care for a loved one, you may not be entirely clear about what an assisted living community means.

1. What Assisted Living Provides

Because there is no nationwide definition for assisted living senior communities that call themselves assisted living facilities can offer differing levels of care. They offer a less-expensive, residential approach to delivering many of the same services available in skilled nursing, either by employing personal care staff or contracting with home health agencies and other outside professionals.

Not all assisted living communities are equal. Some provide lighter care, and some can even provide care for those who bedridden or who need help eating while still remaining in assisted living as opposed to a nursing home. It often depends on the community’s licensing. Many states have a tiered system of licensing whereby communities with a higher degree of licensing are able to provide more care.

2. Each Community Has a Unique Personality

Care aside, the look and feel of communities varies as well. Some communities have a more formal, traditional design sensibility, while others may have a more home-like, down to earth ambiance. Assisted living communities come in all shapes and sizes. Every assisted living community has a different personality. You can visit two communities down the street from one another that offer the same care and services, they may even look identical to one another, but that feel very different. Just because your loved one didn’t like one community, doesn’t mean the next one won’t feel right.

There’s no nationwide standard size, but assisted living communities are licensed to care for at least 20 people, but many communities have hundreds of residents. Smaller communities usually offer a homelike atmosphere while the larger communities offer an abundance of interest clubs, recreational opportunities, and acreage for recreation.

3. Yes, You Can Bring Your Pet

Senior living communities have different pet policies with specific weight limits and breed restrictions, so it’s important to do your research. Make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their particular pet policy.

4. Assisted Living Costs are Lower Than You Think

Assisted living is often less expensive than home health or nursing home care in the same geographic area. According to a survey, the national average rate for a one-bedroom apartment is approximately $3,300 per month. While 86.2% of assisted living residents pay from their personal financial resources, 41 states offer “home and community-based waivers” that allow low-income residents to live in assisted living.

Additionally, more seniors are purchasing long-term care insurance to help plan for and finance their long-term care needs. Wartime veterans and their spouses may eligible for VA benefits that can offset the cost of care.

5. Assisted Living is Not Synonymous with Nursing Homes

Many families believe they need they need nursing homes for their ailing older loved one when in fact assisted living is the most appropriate option. An assessment by an Advisor or medical professional is the best way to determine the care type needed, but some general distinctions can be drawn between assisted living and nursing homes. For instance:

  • Assisted living residents are mainly independent but may need help with daily living personal care tasks such as bathing and dressing, while nursing home residents tend to need 24-hour assistance with every activity of daily living
  • Assisted living residents are mobile, while those who are bed ridden require nursing homes
  • Nursing home residents generally have a single or semi-private room, while assisted living residents typically live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment
  • Nursing home residents require fully staffed, skilled nursing medical attention on a daily basis, while assisted living residents are more stable and do not need ongoing medical attention

6. Culturally Diverse Options

An increasing number of assisted living communities are designed to meet the unique cultural, religious, dietary and language-based needs of local populations.

Some communities offer multiple cultural, religious and dietary options.

As America simultaneously diversifies and ages, we’re bound to see an ever increasing demand for niche retirement communities.

7. Assisted Living Dementia Care

In 2012 there were more than 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who required specialized dementia care treatment. Many assisted living facilities offer dedicated Alzheimer’s memory care programs for residents which are designed to decrease wandering, agitation and improve their quality of life. Generally residents with early stage Alzheimer’s or dementia can live among the regular population of assisted living residents, but when the condition becomes advanced, residents are then transitioned from the regular assisted living section to the memory care area. Memory care is specialized assisted living that’s secure to protect residents, that has staff specially trained to care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and that have other design and caregiving adaptations for the comfort and safety of memory-impaired residents.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.

A Place for Mom

What Assisted Living is Really Like? Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 18, 2016

Many people are unclear of what life in assisted living is like these days; especially if they have predisposed notions that communities are synonymous with institutional nursing homes of the past. Families may not be entirely clear about what an assisted living community means — especially in today’s world with state-of-the-art amenities, chef-inspired cuisine, occupational and physical therapy, field trip outings and most important; a staff of expertly trained professionals who care for residents.

Many families are deeply affected by their elderly loved ones’ transitions to assisted living. It’s not only a highly emotional time, but also a time when decisions are expedited for quick moves resulting from declining health. Here is some insight to help families going through this emotional turmoil.

Some older adults really blossom in assisted living, mainly because assisted living often provides a lot more social activity — and even a family — for those who were lonely and even somewhat isolated in their home environment. This is especially true of older adults who had previously been having difficulty leaving home due to physical or cognitive limitations. Assisted living’s medication management services can also be very helpful, and sometimes I see seniors improve a lot medically simply because they begin taking their medications consistently.

It’s important for families to visit and get a feel for a community to see whether it’s a good fit for their loved one’s personality and level-of-care needed. It’s not the amenities, it’s the emotional and expertise that’s important. Communities are also looking at ways to improve not just providing good care, but also exceeding customer service expectations and improving the lives of seniors through research and advocacy means.

How Assisted Living Has Changed Over the Years

In most states there is better, cleaner, operational regulation and more adept staff training requirements. There has been a huge shift in the consumer. Families and seniors themselves are more comfortable with senior care communities as a clear method to potentially postponing nursing home care, which was not the case, years ago.  The concept of resort-style living is becoming more attractive to active seniors.  A really nice shift has been a decrease in the level of skepticism, and increase in the trust.

Today there is also a plethora of activities and amenities, in addition to state-of-the art care from medical and therapist professionals, including:

  • Barber and beautician services
  • Book groups
  • Dining and food services
  • Gardening clubs
  • Housekeeping and laundering services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Scheduled transportation services to outings outside of community
  • Theater outings
  • Wellness and physical fitness, catered to individual needs, including: Catered fitness regimes, Water aerobics, Walking

It’s important to consider whether your loved one would want to participate in the events and amenities in the community, if their basic needs are met. After all, unless the senior is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the mind of a 90-year-old in assisted living hasn’t aged; just the body has.

What Assisted Living is Like Today

Assisted living depends on the professionals at each community. The good and forward thinking providers and companies have created senior condo-like settings where care is provided discreetly, on a resident’s own schedule, inside their own apartment or home, and by consistent staff.  Daily schedules are different for each resident, and should be, as they are catered to individual needs. That alone shows how the trend in care has shifted to each individual.

The Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the tasks necessary to participate in a senior’s daily care. Assisted living associates are trained to supplement where a resident has weaknesses, and to not do the tasks for them, but to help them. Life tasks include two areas:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Grooming
  • Using the toilet independently
  • Walking and getting around

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS):

  • Finances
  • House Cleaning and Chores
  • Meal Preparation
  • Shopping
  • Transportation
  • Using the Telephone

In assisted living, many of the IADLS are handled by either the community or a relative of the resident. Each community has their own system, so it’s important to find the options that work for each family’s unique situation.

Care professionals become like family for the residents and they come to rely on them for their daily activities, whether it’s dressing them, helping them shower, or simply bringing them the right types of meals or newspaper articles for their morning routines. Staff at communities become a part of each resident’s life. They can even become family who are missed if they’re on vacation or leave.

Why Emotional Connections with Staff Are Important

Families, without exception want communities to care for their loved one the way they do. They want to be asked personal questions, and they want to share family stories. They want to trust care staff, and any associate working in senior care should be attempting to gain that trust once it is earned. Staff becomes part of the family, and an integral conduit of communication, support, and guidance.

Family and staff and resident interaction is what most families respond to when they visit. It’s a palpable energy when the community is working in synergy, which is why the emotional connections are so important.

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

A Place for Mom

Why Seniors Prefer Assisted Living Communities – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 12, 2016

If you haven’t visited a senior living community in a while, you may have some misconceptions – senior communities have changed significantly over the last few years.

Senior Living Communities Today

Senior communities range from homelike to the posh luxury of a high-end hotel or cruise ship, and they definitely don’t feel institutional today.

Most seniors who have moved to assisted living or independent living communities report that they prefer life at their new home to life alone. Here are some common reasons why:

1. No Stress Yard Work and Home Maintenance

Keeping up a home is hard, especially for those of us who have developed physical ailments. Mowing the lawn, climbing a ladder to change light bulbs, shoveling snow, pulling weeds, vacuuming– these become things of the past. But don’t worry green thumbs – residents are often able to garden.

2. Vanquishing Boredom

Residents need never be bored at a senior living community. There’s something for everyone. All kinds of entertainment and activities are offered, both on-site and in the local community. Entertainment can range from visiting musicians and performers, to day trips that might include local landmarks, forays into nature, or just an outing to the local art museum.

3. Improved Family Relationships

Older folks frequently become dependent on their grown children, or other close family members, for help of all kinds. Unnatural role reversals can strain relationships and foster unhealthy feelings of resentment, both by parents and their sons and daughters. Younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers, and are able to assure that time with their older loved one is meaningful and high-quality. Older residents are glad to return to the role of family matriarch or patriarch and often pleased that their grown children no longer have to “parent the parent.”

4. Better Food

There are many residents at senior communities who used to live alone and were not eating right. At senior living communities, residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping, meal preparation or even coffee brewing. Instead, they get to enjoy a fine dining experience every day of the week. The food tastes good, alternative meals are almost always offered and special diet needs can ordinarily be accommodated. It’s common for new residents, who had been eating poorly before they moved-in, to experience improvements in their health and well-being just from three square meals per day.

5. An End to Stressful Driving

Driving can be tense and stressful as we age, and our driving abilities may not be what they once were either. For these reasons, most residents prefer to take advantage of the free transportation that’s provided by independent and assisted living communities. There’s no need to rely on a car any longer, although parking is available for residents who still drive.

6. Feeling Like Myself Again

Living alone, we may not be able to participate in games and activities we enjoyed, that were both fun and helped keep us sharp. But senior communities offer a wealth of opportunities to keep us engaged. This can include favorite games like chess, bridge and poker, engaging reading groups and discussion groups, and fascinating classes and lectures on every conceivable topic.

7. Making New Friends

Older adults who live alone often become isolated, which is unhealthy at any age. At senior communities we can make friends, share a meal and enjoy festive occasions with one another. On the other hand, those of us who are more introverted appreciate that our privacy is respected, but are still glad to have folks around.

8. Finally Feeling Safe

Residents can rest easy knowing that they are secured from thieves, con-men and ne’er-do-wells. Furthermore, residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the emergency response systems that are in each apartment, or sometimes on the resident’s person as a pendant. This alleviates fears about falling and becoming trapped for hours or even days, a scenario that’s all too common for senior’s residing alone.

Certainly, there are seniors who live alone and are just fine. We recognize that senior communities aren’t for everyone. But it’s without doubt that there are vast numbers of seniors living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations who would benefit immensely from life at a senior community.

If you are interested in learning about assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

A Place for Mom

What to Look for In a Memory Care Community - Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are progressive in nature. Therefore, an individual’s symptoms will become more pronounced and increasingly evident over time. Although the disease can progress at different rates among different people, the continued decline in one’s mental and physical capabilities is inevitable and irreversible. While extensive research continues toward solving the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently no known cure.

Considering Your Options

Many experts agree that due to the progressive effects of the disease, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will eventually require more care and support than can be appropriately provided within the home setting.

It is most often during the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease when it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep a person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses, care requirements become more intensive. Making the decision to move a loved one to a memory care community may be difficult, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care and supervision needed at home.

Ultimately, it is all about what is best for the person with memory loss. At-home caregivers must make choices that are in the best interests of their loved one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being—as well as their own. Despite possibly feeling an initial sense of guilt, many caregivers find that making the difficult decisions about their loved one’s care provides a welcome relief to the daily challenges and stresses of being a full-time caregiver.

Tips for Choosing the Right Residential Memory Care Community for Your Loved One

Memory care communities or communities with specialized memory care neighborhoods can be an ideal solution for those who require a substantial amount of care and supervision. However, it is important to do the appropriate research to assure you select the community that will make both you and your loved one the most comfortable. There are several important factors to consider in making this decision, including:

  • Programs and Services— Are there appropriate health and behavioral care services, regular planned activities and recurring care planning sessions? Is there a focus on resident engagement?
  • Environment—Do residents appear well cared for? Are rooms and common areas spacious, safe, and clean? Is there a family visiting area? Can residents bring favorite items with them?
  • Staffing— Do staff members have the proper tools, training and perspective to care for the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss? Are privacy, respect and dignity a clear priority?
  • Meals—Is the food nutritious and appetizing and are there regular meal and snack times? Are family members and friends welcome to dine with their loved ones?
  • Family Involvement—Are you encouraged to be part of your loved one’s life and care planning, as well as to communicate as often as needed with staff?
  • Policies and Procedures— Can families participate in their loved one’s care and activities? Are visiting hours family-friendly?

Taking time to evaluate your options is well worth the effort. You’ll find that the best communities offer a wide range of treatments, services and amenities that address a resident’s mental, physical and emotional well-being through best-practice care, a philosophy of respect and dignity, and social engagement activities that stimulate the mind. Knowing your loved one is in the best possible environment provides peace of mind and confidence.

Help Is Available for Caregivers

Today, a variety of resources are available to assist caregivers who are caring for loved ones at home, including Alzheimer’s Association services, support groups, self-help guides, respite care services, in-home support, community-based services and educational programs. Communities with dedicated memory care neighborhoods offer quality care and specialized support around the clock, along with a variety of educational programs and special events that can help families connect and engage with their loved ones on a daily basis.

For more information on memory care contact Spring Arbor.


Long-Term Care Myths Debunked - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 04, 2016

Baby boomers are turning 65 at a pace of 10,000 people per day and while most baby boomers in their 60s are healthy, the majority of Americans will begin to suffer health problems once they get into their 70s. Because diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's disease strike later in life, most Americans will require long-term care at some point.

Let's debunk some common myths about long-term care so that you can better prepare yourself for that eventuality.

No. 1: I won't need long-term care

Cancer, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and arthritis are all major reasons why people require long-term care, and because these life-altering conditions tend to occur later in life, many people who are in their 60s underestimate the likelihood that they'll eventually need a long-term helping hand.

That assumption, however, is woefully incorrect. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of people turning 65 this year will require long-term care in the future. And while only about 10% of long-term care insurance claims are initiated by people who are younger than 70, 25% of claims are initiated by those in their 70s and nearly 64% of claims are initiated by those in their 80s.

No. 2: Insurance will cover long-term care

Private insurance and Medicare may cover skilled nursing, short-term care, and medically necessary care, but they won't cover custodial or personal care services, and those services represent a significant proportion of long-term care expenses. Similarly, Medigap plans pick up many of the costs for services that aren't covered by Medicare, but Medigap doesn't cover long-term care costs, either. In short, private insurance and Medicare won't pay for assisted living, continuing care in retirement communities, or adult day services. And the costs of the care they will cover is often limited to specific situations and to a short period of time.

Medicaid will cover long-term care. But qualifying for Medicaid is a challenge for many retirees. Medicaid eligibility differs from state to state, but only those of us without assets and with limited income typically qualify.

No. 3: My savings will cover my long-term care

The average person enters retirement with a median $131,000 in retirement savings and that's not going to be enough to pay for long-term care.
The average assisted living facility costs $43,539 per year and the average nursing home costs $82,125 per year, and that's for a semi-private room. Given that costs for long-term care are climbing, retiree nest eggs aren't likely to be big enough to cover these expenses all by their lonesome. That's especially true given that 50% of people require long-term care for more than one year and the average length of a long-term insurance claim for those people is 3.9 years.

No. 4: Medicaid can't touch my home

If you do qualify for Medicaid and Medicaid covers the cost of long-term care, federal law requires states to recover the money spent by Medicaid on your behalf from your estate after you pass away. Probate law dictates what states include in your estate, but most states include real and personal property, such as a home, in it.

Medicaid won't recoup long-term care costs by forcing your spouse to sell your home after you die, but Medicaid can also put a lien on your house in the amount of your costs after your spouse dies.

No. 5: There's nothing I can do to plan ahead

Staying healthy for as long as possible is obviously the best plan for reducing long-term care expenses, but there are other steps you can take to minimize the impact of long-term care expenses on your estate.

First, you can buy a long-term care insurance policy. The cost of these plans depends on your age, health, and your coverage choices, but the cost of $162,000 in coverage for a couple ranged from $1,816 per year to $3,725 per year in 2013.

Because the availability of long-term care insurance depends on your health, it may pay to get benefits sooner rather than later. Most people apply for long-term care insurance between the age of 55 and 64, and historically, only 25% of applicants between 60 and 69 have their applications rejected because of unacceptable health.

Admittedly, these plans aren't cheap. But if you're under age 65, you may be able to pay your premiums with pre-tax money if you own a health savings account. Also, if you own a business, your premiums may qualify for special tax treatment as well.

Another option that may be worth considering is combination life and long-term care insurance policies. These policies can offer both death benefits to survivors and some form of insurance protection against long-term care costs.

There may also be options available to you that will allow you to protect your home. Although state laws differ widely, strategies involving trusts and asset transfers may be useful -- especially if they're implemented prior to the five-year look-back period used by Medicaid in determining Medicaid eligibility. However, strategies that work in one state may not work in another, so it's important to discuss your options with an elder law attorney before you take any action.

For more information contact Spring Arbor.

The Motley Fool

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