AARP Releases 2008 Voter Guide, Prefers Obama

Several readers have requested relevant posts on public policy that may impact families or their loved ones.  There’s so much coverage on new federal and state legislature affecting elder care and assisted living, but I’ll try and do my best to share some relevant and important stories.

AARP, arguably the most influential group in the country addressing senior issues, released their 2008 Voter Guide.  The guide compares the positions and action plans for Senators Obama and McCain.

AARP prefers Obama’s position on all but one issue.

While the positions of state candidates are not yet posted, the positions of the presidential candidates are worth the read, and I recommend you read the report.

Thanks to the good folks over at Senior Living Info for the link.

CareFlash: Where Technology Makes Care Far Easier

A string of serendipitous events this week made me a true believer in how technology can dramatically simplify the way we care for our loved ones.

A Sick, Distant Relative

I heard from a family member that a distant cousin had a brain issue that has required several surgeries to correct.  He’s still not out of the woods, but they’re making progress finding the root cause.

The poor kid just graduated high school and his mother is emotionally exhausted.

She’s drained not just from the stress of her son’s illness, but from the hard work required to continuously update friends and family, explain the illness, describe treatments and their results, etc.

Everyone wants an update, so she repeats the same process nearly every day.

Coordinating Care is Hard Work

  • Have you ever had a loved one in the hospital, or suffering from a diagnosis that required a long or permanent care period?
  • Do you have friends of co-workers who needed a hand after an injury or illness?
  • How many times did you explain the diagnosis and treatment?
  • How did you coordinate errands or take the kids to school?
  • How did you handle your own life while you provided care to this person?

[Read more...]

Long Term Care Series – Part 2: Costly Misconceptions

As you all know, I’ve been running a survey to investigate, among other things, assisted living preparedness.  One of the most frequently cited issues is that of long-term care insurance and the ability to afford assisted living.

Most People Mistakenly Believe Long-Term Care is Covered

In the second part of our series on long-term care (LTC), my good friend Patrick Cloyd has shared a number of misconceptions about LTC.  While the statistics may be startling, I’m glad he’s shared these common misconceptions so we can address them with proper coverage.

Here’s Patrick’s article in its entirety:

Costly Misconceptions:
Most People Mistakenly Believe Long-Term Care is Covered

By Patrick Cloyd, State Farm® agent
patrick@cloydagency.com
(410) 766-4488
Have you failed to get insurance for long term care in a nursing home because you think you already have coverage? If so, you’re like a lot of other people, according to a Roper survey of Americans 45 years of age and over, recently released by the American Society on Aging (ASA).

That misconception can become costly when you consider long-term care in a nursing home currently averages $56,000(i) a year, according to the US Government, and is expected to quadruple by 2030(ii). People could easily find their assets depleted, their choices limited and their independence gone if they need long-term care but have made no plans to pay for it.
And chances are good they will need long-term care. Statistics released by the Health Insurance Association of America say that after age 65, Americans have more than a 70 percent chance of needing some form of long-term care, whether it’s an aide coming to their home, a stay in an assisted care facility or an extended stay in a nursing home.(iii) Younger people may also need long-term care if they’ve had a stroke, for example, or been in an accident.
“This survey confirms that Americans need to wake-up to the realities of long-term care,” said Jim Emerman, senior vice president of the ASA. “All it takes is a phone call to a financial services professional to find out the truth behind the misconceptions so many have about long-term care.”
Some of the common misconceptions uncovered in the Roper study(iv) are these:

  • Forty-two percent were not aware
  • Medicare only covers long-term care expenses for a short time, and only after someone is released from the hospital.
  • Thirty percent were not aware Medicaid coverage for long-term care is only available after someone’s financial resources are exhausted.
  • Almost half (46 percent) are under the impression their health insurance will automatically cover long-term care.

It’s dangerous to assume you’re covered for long-term care. When the need for a nursing home stay or other long-term care arises, you may discover you’re not covered and have waited too long to buy insurance. Long-term care insurance is an important part of a financial plan. I urge people to speak with a financial services professional about their need for long-term care insurance now, before it’s too late to get coverage.

(i) Estimates from: Health Care Financing Administration, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group. As presented in, “Nursing Homes.” AARP Public Policy Institute Fact Sheet. February 2001: pg. 3.
(ii) Can Aging Baby Boomers Avoid the Nursing Home? Long-term Care Insurance for Aging in Place.” American Council of Life Insurers. March 2000: pg. 15.
(iii) Lewin Group estimates based on the Brookings-ICF Long-term Care Financing Model, 1992. As cited in, “Long-term Care: Knowing the Risk, Paying the Price.” Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA). 1997: pg. 12. The level of coverage provided by long-term care insurance depends on the type of policy you purchase. Some types of care received may not be covered by long-term care insurance.
(iv) Study conducted by Roper ASW, August 2002. Released by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and the American Society on Agency (ASA), April 2003.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company Home Office: Bloomington, Illinois – statefarm.com®. The American Society on Aging is not an affiliate of State Farm®. The Long-Term Care Insurance policy 97058 is underwritten by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Prudential Cost of Care Report: Assisted Living Rates Continue Climb

The folks over at Professional Caregiver posted a great summary to a recent Prudential Cost of Care Report.

By the year 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to reach over 71 million, or almost 20% of the entire U.S. population.  As the population ages the need for care is expected to grow with it, and recent studies continue to show increases in the cost of long term care throughout the country.

A recent Prudential Insurance report found the average daily cost for an assisted-living facility is now more than $100, or $3,241 per month.  The report examined both assisted living and nursing homes, but found the largest increase in cost of care in AL, increasing about 13% since 2006.

Read their full post.

Download the Prudential Report.

Understanding Residency Agreements, Part 2 – Accomodations and Term

In a previous post, I introduced the core components of an assisted living residency agreement. Unless you’re an attorney, these agreements can be quite intimidating.  In fact, many families don’t even read them closely, much less bring them to an attorney for review.

With contracts, many things are negotiable, so don’t hesitate to ask.  This is especially true if the facility has many vacancies.

The purpose of the Understanding Residency Agreements series is to provide a basic understanding of these core components. The contract we’ll use as an example is from a major corporate assisted living company.  Many of these contracts can be found by searching Google, but I believe this agreement serves as good example.

This post will discuss living accommodations and the term of the agreement.

I. Living Accommodations

This section of the contract describes the unit and common areas to be leased by the resident.  The language in this section is fairly self-explanatory.

Some things to be aware of include:

  • Confirm the exact unit identified in the contract is the unit you’ve agreed to rent
  • Confirm your loved one, his/her friends and your family have the right to use common areas. These are areas of the facility that are freely available to residents, although some facilities put restrictions on who can use them.

II. Term of Residency Agreement

This section of the contract defines the term of the agreement and what happens at termination.  In the example contract, the resident’s rights to ownership are defined (there are none), the length of the agreement is defined, and the “what do to” at termination and with personal property is defined.

Things to be aware of in this section include:

  • The length of the agreement should be monthly.  Be cautious of longer agreements, especially if you have no termination rights in the event your loved one is no longer able to live there.
  • No auto-renewal.  In the event you agree to a term longer than monthly, ensure there is no auto-renewal clause.  As you may imagine from its name, auto-renewal automatically renews the  contract for a specified period of time, unless you notify in writing your desire not to renew.  If the term is monthly, then auto-renewal doesn’t matter as you’ll only have 30 days exposure financially.
  • Limit obligations at vacancy. Whether it be due to health or death, inquire about your obligations in the event your loved one is no longer able to reside in the community.  Some examples include: How long are you obligated to pay after your loved on has left? How long do you have to remove belongings?
  • Reasonable notice. Ensure your loved one is provided reasonable notice before the facility shows your unit to a potential resident.  24-48 hours is reasonable in most situations. Try to avoid anything that doesn’t require notice, as this can be stressful to your loved one.

These sections are fairly standard, but the above tips will help you ask the write questions and negotiate where you feel necessary.

An article regarding contracts wouldn’t be complete without a disclaimer.

Disclaimer:

I am not an attorney.  I am writing these posts with the input an attorney who specialized in contracts.  The posts are not intended to provide legal advice, and I strongly encourage you to review any legal agreement with a qualified attorney.

Long-Term Care Series: Few Are Planning For Long-Term Care…A Mistake – Part 1

Another tool underutilized by many families is long-term care (LTC) insurance. This author unfortunately has

Long Term Care Insurance is Underutilized

Long Term Care Insurance is Underutilized

scars on his back due to not having LTC insurance, so I want to ensure that we spend adequate time addressing it from a variety of different angles.

What is LTC insurance? In the event your loved one requires long-term care – assisted living, nursing home or others — LTC pays a benefit to offset the cost. As with many life event insurance policies, LTC insurance is easier to get and less expensive if you get it earlier in life.

Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance

The most logical place to start is from the viewpoint of a major insurance company. A dear friend of mine for over 15 years, Patrick Cloyd is an agent for State Farm. He agreed to provide me some introductory materials so that you learn some of the basics about LTC insurance.

This post is not intended to be a pitch for State Farm. Rather, I thought it would be useful to understand the need for LTC insurance from the perspective of an insurance company. Since these articles were written by Patrick, I am posting them in their entirety.

[Read more...]

Understanding Assisted Living Residency Agreements – Part 1

Hope everyone is well.

Before we get started, I want to update you on the survey.  So far, over 130 people have taken the Inside Assisted Living – Family Attitudes and Preparedness Survey since we announced it on Thursday, August 7.  Thank you!   We’re hoping to get a few hundred in the next 30 days.

Now on to the purpose for the post…

What is a Residency Agreement?

One of the most daunting tasks of a transition to assisted living is the signing of the residency agreement.  Similar to a rental agreement or lease on an apartment, the residency agreement governs cost, services and termination options for your loved one’s stay in assisted living.

It always struck me as odd how little families pay attention to these agreements.  We spend hours test driving  cars or strolling through the mall, but oddly, very few people read these agreements in detail.  And even fewer take them to an attorney for review.

But I guess it’s not so hard to understand, since many of them can run 20+ pages.

At Least a Five-Part Series

I’d like to dedicate a series of posts to help you better understand a typical residency agreement.  My goal is not to drown you in legalese (legal speak for 25 pages of run-on sentence separated by commas), but rather to educate you on their core components and things to avoid.

[Read more...]

Assisted Living Family Attitude and Preparedness Survey

Last week, I shared the following statistic from a recent CPCSL survey:

Eighty-four percent of Americans over the age of 50 expect an immediate family member to move into a senior living community within the next 10 years.

In fact, more than one million Americans already reside in assisted living.  With the rate America’s population is aging, it’s easy to understand why millions of families are or will be evaluating a transition to assisted living in the next five years.

The Survey’s Ready and Live!

Expected September 2008

Expected September 2008

I told you in my last last post about a recent promise I made to many people.  For years they’ve been asking

me to share other families opinions, concerns and fears of assisted living.  While I could speak for hours about what I learned or had heard, there were many answers that could only be learned with questions.

So I created a survey to test the attitudes and preparedness of families considering assisted living for their loved one.

To my knowledge, its the only survey built “by families, for families.”

I’m asking for your help not only in taking it yourself, but also in forwarding the survey to your family, parents, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Just cut and paste this post into an email and you’re all set!

My commitment?  Anybody who takes the survey will get the final results delivered directly to their inbox.

15 mins. Full knowledge. Good trade!

I know what you’re thinking…and, no it won’t just be a print-out of the answers.  In fact, I’m putting together a professional report with analysis for each answer and general trends.

I appreciate your help.  We’ll all learn a thing or two.

Read more about the survey

Take the Survey