December 12, 2018

Filling the Medicare Gap: Funding Options for Long-Term Care

Filed under: Health Insurance,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Medicare — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:31 pm

Courtesy of Janet Campbell

A rapidly-aging population and the ever-increasing cost of care means that a lot of Americans will be forced to figure out how to pay for long-term care. Those who Filling the Medicare Gapdelay preparing and planning could be in for a difficult time and high debt levels: the average cost of a private nursing home room is $75,000 annually, and the median cost of engaging a licensed home health aide is about $152 a day. It is projected that these costs will only continue to climb as the Baby Boomer generation ages, which means that now’s the time to begin structuring a financial plan. The cost of delaying is simply too high. Here are a few options to consider as you look to the future.

Medicare Advantage plans

Seniors are all too aware that the older we get, the more our healthcare costs tend to rise. For that reason, many people 65 and older have a Medicare plan, but unfortunately, it won’t cover all of your medical expenses. That’s a big reason why 1 in 3 Medicare recipients have a Medicare Advantage (or Medicare Part C) plan to help pay for some long-term care costs, like dental and vision care, as well as prescription medications. If you already receive Medicare, it’s worth your while to look into an Advantage plan, especially because some of them offer $0 premiums. If you’re getting close to age 65 or are currently eligible for Medicare, be aware of enrollment dates and requirements so you’re prepared ahead of time; depending on the type of plan you get, your disability status and your employment history, you initial sign-up date will vary.

Long-term care insurance

This is one of the more obvious alternatives, but it’s often considered a cost-prohibitive option by many people. Long-term care insurance does become more expensive the longer you wait to enroll (for example, a yearly premium may cost you approximately $2,000 if you go this route at age 55). Many financial advisers recommend not waiting so long, and that there’s nothing wrong with taking out a policy in your 30s or 40s, especially if it’ll save you hundreds of dollars a year in premiums.

Insurance rider

A life insurance policy rider can give you early access to death benefits to help pay for long-term care. This allows you to access benefits early if you meet certain criteria, such as being diagnosed with a cognitive impairment. Benefits paid out early are deducted from the payout to beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death. Also, be aware that you may be able to sell a life insurance policy to free up cash for long-term care expenses.

Personal savings

A 2015 Department of Health and Human Services study found that most Americans required fewer than two years of long-term care, and that saving $70,000 could be sufficient to meet the need. Setting aside part of your investment earnings or long-term, interest-bearing savings can carry you a long way toward meeting that financial objective, and it’ll keep you from having to come up with an annual or monthly premium payment.

Health savings

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you may be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) to help defray the cost of rising long-term health care expenses. HSA contributions roll over from year to year, and withdrawals can be made tax free as long as you use them to pay for healthcare expenses – that includes long-term care insurance payments. Contributions are tax deductible up to $3,450, and nearly double that if you have a family plan.

Medicaid

Medicaid is an alternative to Medicare, which does not pay for long-term care. Medicaid covers long-term care expenses if you’ve gone through all other financial resources, though eligibility differs from state to state. One problem is that you’re limited as to where you can go if you require nursing home care, since not every facility accepts Medicaid.

Long-term care can be prohibitively expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to put a strain on your financial resources. Preparing early, whether that means buying long-term care insurance or starting a health savings account, is an excellent way to be ready if you or a loved one needs long-term care.

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August 21, 2018

Advice for Seniors Looking to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Filed under: Seniors Health — Tags: , — seniorlivingguide @ 12:24 pm

Courtesy of Hazel Bridges

If you’ve ever laughed because your grandparents or elderly parents eat dinner at 4:30 p.m. so they can be in bed by 8:00 p.m., you may be unaware that physiological changes brought on by age may cause older adults to sleep less and on a different schedule than they used to. They may be up several times a night and sleep a lot during the day, but experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep each night regardless of age.

If insomnia or some other cause of sleep deprivation is at fault, it needs to be addressed with strategies aimed at making it easier to get to sleep. There are many tips for improving your ability to sleep, and often the simplest ones are the most effective.

Warm bath

A good soak in a warm bath can help lower your body temperature and heart rate enough to make you feel sleepy. It’s a relaxing, soothing way to wind down as bedtime approaches, and scented bath salts can help augment the effect. It’s worth a try, especially if you’re used to pacing the floor and watching late-night television for hours on end.

Create a good sleep space

Setting up a proper sleep environment is essential for improving your night’s rest. Sleep for SeniorsThat means keeping the bedroom dark, cool (about 72 degrees), and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains if light from outside is a problem, or turning on a source of white noise, such as a phone app or a floor fan, to create a constant source of masking sound so the neighbor’s dog or passing motorcycles don’t jar you awake. Establish your bed as a place for sleeping only and try not to go to bed until you feel tired.

Winding down

Seniors who suffer from sleep deprivation often make the mistake of getting in bed whether they’re tired or not. Avoid vigorous physical activity an hour or two before bedtime and turn off all electronic devices, including the computer and television, at least an hour before going to bed. Winding down is about easing your mind and getting ready for sleep. Reading a book and listening to soothing music or a CD with sounds from nature can sometimes help overcome insomnia.

Avoid napping

The more you sleep during the day, the harder it may be to nod off at night and get the REM sleep your body needs. While napping is something many seniors enjoy during the golden years, don’t let it wreak havoc on your sleep. However, you should avoid taking stimulants during the day to stay awake if you’re used to napping, as they can affect your sleep at night as well. If necessary, establish a sleep routine in which you go to bed earlier than usual each night.

Avoid food and alcohol at night

It can be hard to sleep when your body is digesting, so avoid eating a meal or heavy snacks close to bedtime. Alcohol can also have an unsettling effect at night time and produce repeated trips to the bathroom. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking a lot of water before going to bed.

Exercise

Regular physical activity which increases your heart rate and metabolism will work to your advantage at bedtime. Walking, jogging, bicycling, or yoga can work your muscles and limbs enough to create a natural and healthy fatigue by bedtime, and are all safe and low-impact forms of exercise that are perfect for seniors. Avoid any such activity within three hours of going to bed so that you have time to come wind down and relax.

Sleep testing and Medicare

Sleep studies help doctors identify disorders and fashion treatment strategies for patients with chronic sleep problems. Such testing measures information while you sleep that can help in fashioning a diagnosis. Medicare may pay for “medically necessary” testing for seniors, while Medicare Part B may cover tests and devices ordered by a doctor to diagnose sleep apnea. Medicare may also cover a three-month trial for CPAP therapy.

Finding a way to get the sleep you need can be as simple as getting more exercise, or it could involve medical testing and a diagnosis requiring specialized treatment. In either event, it’s worth getting restful sleep that helps keep your body healthy and your mind sharp.

Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com.

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