Tue, Feb 18, 2020

Long-term care remains biggest expense for Medicare beneficiaries

Long-term care remains the largest out-of-pocket (OOP) expense for Medicare beneficiaries, and the percentage of those OOP dollars almost doubled (18% to 32%) between 2010 and 2016, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

The increase in long-term care costs was matched only by increased OOP on prescriptions – up from 11 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2016. The drastic increase in OOP dollars spent towards long term care could be due in part to an aging Medicare demographic, and an average long-term care facility cost of $92,000 a year. Currently, long-term care costs are covered by private insurance, out-of-pocket payments made by beneficiaries, or Medicaid. The majority of nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid, but Medicaid eligibility rules vary from state to state, and in most cases, enrollees must spend down their assets to less than $2,000 in order to qualify.

Staying in Your Home

Most people prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible. When planning to receive long-term care in your home there are many things to consider including:

  • The condition of your home
  • Whether it can be modified, if necessary, to accommodate a wheelchair or other devices/equipment
  • The availability of long-term care services in your area, such as adult day care or nearby medical facilities
  • How “aging-friendly” your community is—does it offer public transportation, home    delivered meals and other needed services?
  • Tax and legal issues

It’s wise to think now about how your current residence and community will support your needs as you age and require long-term care services.

Support Services

In-home and community services can help you live at home longer. The following are some of the services and supports that may be available in your area:

  • Convenient and affordable public transportation
  • Someone to drive you on errands and to appointments
  • Help with housing and yard chore
  • Help with personal care
  • Home Delivered Meals
  • Senior Center where you can socialize and exercise
  • Adult Day Care centers

Good to Know

Contact your Area Agency on Aging to see what services are available in your community. Visit the Eldercare Locator or call 1-800-677-1116.

Typical Home Modifications

Modifications can make your home or apartment safer and allow you to stay there longer.  An important component to staying at home is avoiding falls.  One of the goals of home modification is to increase your chances of avoiding a fall, especially in the bathroom.  Typical changes needed as you age include:

  • Entryway ramps to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers
  • Bathroom safety grip bars and walk-in or roll-in showers
  • Medical alert system
  • Lever style door and sink handles
  • Improved lighting and night lighting
  • Handrails
  • Wider doorways for wheelchair access
  • Stairway chair lifts
  • Costlier modifications
  • Bathroom and bedroom on the first floor of a multi-story home to accommodate someone unable to climb stairs
  • A separate apartment for a relative or renter in exchange for assistance when you need it.

Do you qualify for financial help?

There may be state and local programs that provide low-interest loans or grants to help you pay for home modifications or home repairs. If you are age 60 or older, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see whether you qualify for home modification and repair funds from Title III of the Older Americans Act.

Modifying your rented residence

You may need to talk with your landlord about the types of modifications you can make and whether you, or your landlord, will be responsible for the costs. Landlords are required to allow you to make reasonable modifications to accommodate your needs. If you have questions, consult your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.

Assistive Technology

Assistive devices are tools, products, or equipment that can help you perform daily tasks and activities independently in your home and community. Some of the simplest assistive devices are kitchen and self-care tools such as a reacher (a tool that helps you get objects that are out of your reach).

Other devices are designed to help you communicate, such as:

  • Voice amplification tools
  • Voice recognition tools
  • Cueing and memory aids
  • Software such as word prediction programs
  • Tools that help you move or walk are called mobility assistive devices and include walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters.

If you have any questions about Medicare and the options available to seniors, please don’t hesitate to give FirstCommunity Senior Select a call at 256-532-2783 or 256-532-2785. We’re always happy to help our seniors.

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