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Caring for an Aging Loved One

This month is Long-Term Care Awareness month. For most of our readers, the purchase of a long-term care insurance policy is a long way off. However, many of you are caring for loved ones as they age and may need some guidance in helping give your loved one the best quality of life—without ignoring your own at the same time. I’d like to give you three important tips to help you do that.


  1. Look at adult day care. If you have an aging loved one who can’t be left alone for hours while you work, you might want to look into an adult day-care provider. These services allow you to leave your loved one in the care and companionship of a trained provider. This way you can still work while caring for your loved one. Continuing to work is important, as the income you make during this time will contribute to your Social Security calculation. It will also allow you to continue saving for your own retirement and later-in-life needs.


  1. Understand your loved one’s long-term care insurance policy. If your loved one purchased long-term care (LTC) insurance, or you are about to purchase a policy for them, make sure you understand all the terms at play. Three important terms include:


  • The waiting period, which determines the amount of time they must pay for their own assistance needs before tapping into policy benefits;
  • The daily benefit, which is the maximum cost it will cover per day; and
  • The benefit period, which determines how long the policy offers benefits.


  1. Look for other LTC expense-paying options. An LTC policy isn’t the only way to pay for your loved one’s long-term care needs. While Medicare doesn’t cover these forms of non-medical assistance, you may be able to use the loved one’s annuities or life insurance cash values to assist you. They may even have an insurance policy with a specified LTC rider to pay for these expenses.


One last tip—make sure you coordinate at-home care with your spouse, partner and other family members. No one person should be solely responsible for the care of an aging loved one if others are nearby and able to help, even for just a couple hours one afternoon a month. Making sure you rely on your entre family network means ensuring that you have some much-needed time away and time for yourself to recharge.

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