Long-term care coverage barely comes to mind when adult children think of buying Father’s Day gifts for their aging dads. However, as unconventional as these policies may be, gifting long-term care plans provides aging loved ones one invaluable gift you wouldn’t typically associate with insurance plans: the ability to age independently. You may not realize it now, but providing the means for older adults to age the way they choose may be the best present you can give them no matter the occasion.
In an earlier post entitled, Long-term care policy: exploring the best gift this Mother’s Day, we discussed the different ways children can secure coverage to their mothers. For this post, we will be highlighting the importance of doing the same for aging fathers all across the country. Like their female counterparts, men also face unique challenges and issues when it comes to long-term care.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, let us explore one of the ways we can make this holiday extra special for our aging dads: by helping them secure coverage.
Why Don’t We Hear Much about Dad’s Care Needs?
We have always read that women require long-term care more than men. However, that does not remove the fact that men still do need care, even if their needs are overshadowed by the care demands of their female counterparts.
Unfortunately, most of the literature online focuses on the long-term care needs of women. One example of this is the lack of awareness on the unique plight of older male caregivers. Because their population dwarfs in comparison to female family caregivers, society tends to focus on the challenges that women face. Men, in turn, often have to battle their issues without much guidance that specifically targets their problems.
Moreover, consider how caregiving is traditionally viewed as a woman’s job. With this in mind, older male caregivers are less likely to ask for help. In fact, only 20% of callers to the helpline established by the New York Alzheimer’s Association are men. Lack of awareness and reluctance to seek assistance could mean higher chances of needing long-term care services for the health conditions that they develop or aggravate while facing the demands of their loved one’s care. In a 2010 study by the University of South Florida, male caregiver spouses are at a higher risk of stroke because of caregiving-related stress.
America’s Unrealistic Expectations
People have so many misconceptions about long-term care, and these could lead to unfavorable circumstances. In a 2016 poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, they determined that 4 out of 10 Americans mistakenly rely on Medicare to cover their future long-term care needs. However, the program only pays for some part-time services for people who are homebound as well as for short-time skilled nursing care services. Medicare does not, in fact, pay for personal home care and it may only cover part of the first 100 days of nursing home care.
Another poll entitled Long-term Care in America: Views on Who Should Bear the Responsibilities and Costs of Care was released this year by the same organization. According to the survey, around 3 out of 4 Americans age 40 and older were found to have misconceptions about the costs of long term care in the country. Moreover, only 1 out of 10 Americans say that they have done extensive planning for future care requirements. The majority are later left to look to other means to cover care concerns.
On top of all these concerns, it important to highlight that a great number of older adults still believe that long-term care planning is not necessary. They see it as something they can avoid because, in their minds, there will always be options available. They can rely on their family members, or their Social Security benefits are more than enough. However, this kind of thinking could lead them down a path full of devastating consequences. Long-term care costs have increased so much over the years, and these will just continue to rise. When this happens, how will your parents pay for the costs? Will you have enough to plan for your own care while supporting your aging parents?
Care Concerns: An Uncomfortable Topic at Home
The truth is that long-term care needs are close to inevitable. We have all heard it before: 70% of individuals turning 65 years old can expect to require long-term care services in the following years. This is the reality that so many are choosing to ignore.
According to research, men need approximately 2.2 years of care while women need 3.7 years. Yes, the former may need services for a shorter duration, but you have to remember that two years can still amount hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of services. After all, the average annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home already has a price tag of $82,125. Imagine paying those expenses out of pocket.
In an effort to save a few dollars, many adult children have been stepping up to fill in the role of family caregivers. They do so willingly, but when it comes to having a sit-down discussion about long-term care, adult children are still reluctant to bring the topic up to their aging parents. This has become the norm in American households. Studies even show that only 11% have had this talk with their parents or in-laws.
Understandably, this conversation can be quite awkward to have. To help you start this discussion with aging parents, we have included a helpful video by KARE 11:
Long-term Care Coverage through a Policy
The list of the various challenges that come with long-term care keeps expanding over the years. This is why it is important to start finding the safety-blanket that covers your loved ones from these difficulties.
As many people may know by now, long-term care policies have received mixed reviews over the years. Many have stated that these plans are not for them because they do not see it as a necessary component in their retirement goals. Others have stated that the prices of these policies are just too much and that they would rather rely on their own savings and others methods to cover care. However, recent studies prove that long-term care insurance provides comprehensive coverage when it comes to impending care needs. Bear in mind that 90% of policyholders stated that they are satisfied with the coverage that their purchased policies have provided. In the same report, approximately 8 out of 10 individuals have shared that filing a claim had been an easy experience for them. Moreover, 89% reported that they did not have to pay for additional care services not covered by their insurance.
So as you can see, the correct policies can be enough to fund the care that older adults require; it just depends on how well it was planned. Keep in mind, however, that planning for long-term care is not an easy task, especially if you are preparing for the needs of an older loved one. You can start the process by requesting instant long-term care insurance quotes from reputable companies. This way, you and your father can have an overview of what these policies cover and how much they cost. After all, unique needs require different types of services that come at varying prices.
Make Father’s Day Extra Special
We understand that watching Dad grow older is never easy. Similar to raising children, you wake up one day, and you realize that your parents are not as young as they used to be. As the saying goes, people are often too busy growing up that they forget that their parents are growing older. So as Father’s Day roll in, use this opportunity to show aging fathers and father figures that you value their wellbeing.
Coverage for long-term care may not be the typical gift given on this occasion, but remember that giving them the opportunity to age independently is priceless. Listed below are additional tips for finding coverage for Dad:
Gather all the information you need about possible long-term care features.
Research is always the best tool in fighting off confusion. Long-term care is difficult to understand, and coverage may even be more complicated. Moreover, the abundance of information online can be overwhelming, so be smart in choosing your sources and double-check facts.
Discuss the long-term care possibilities with your siblings.
Raise the issue with your siblings before you take any action. Family members must be aware of the challenges in order to work together to come up with a solution that works best for everyone. This also helps ease the discomfort in having the long-term care discussion with your father.
As it difficult as it may be, talk about long-term care with your father.
As mentioned earlier, no one wants to bring up the topic of future health concerns and care needs with their parents. However, these conversations are more than necessary. Just bear in mind to be sensitive to what they need and how they choose to go about it. Consider their preferences and do not just enforce what you think is right. Remember that you are working toward a common goal, so always compromise.