Long Term Care:  An Overview




Consumer demand has lead to great changes in modern Long Term Care coverage. Long term care insurance and the protection it offers has evolved in many ways over the many years we have been in this market. In most cases, the changes have taken place in response to changes in the way care is delivered. When making a evaluation, it is important to have a understanding of how long term care insurance and the availability of long term care services for our aging population have evolved. Many of today's policies offer benefits for the full continuum of care; care ranging from the traditional, to what was once thought unimaginable. We will now explore how the care has changed and what options are now available for purchasers of this very important type of insurance.

Years ago, Americans cared for their aging and ill loved ones, by taking the sick family member into their home; a fate the ill family member looked at as humiliating and disgraceful, and their loved ones looked at as burdensome, but short term. When a mother or father could no longer take care of him/herself, sons and daughters felt an obligation to care for them. After all, their parents not only brought them into the world, but also dedicated their lives to raising them, plus, the only alternative was a nursing home, a thought which frequently conjured up some disturbing images. It was imagined to be a death sentence, the way to which seniors might be stripped of any remaining dignity and freedom. Nursing home care was in its infancy and the only form of long term care available.

Today's long term care experience has changed in many ways and makes a new variety of options available to our seniors. However, two things have remained the same. First, the most emotional ordeal a family will experience is the day it becomes apparent that a loved one can no longer care for him/herself and needs more help than the family can provide. Most people have not planned for such a crisis, they are unaware of how to access the care so desperately needed and whether the cost of this care is affordable. Thus, it is imperative you understand the importance of your   thoughtful decision to purchase or utilize long term care insurance. The guilt-free, affordable options it will provide to them and their families can't be counted in dollars alone.

Second, people want to remain independent and stay at home for as long as possible, without putting an undue burden on their families. The last thing someone who has lived in a home for over twenty five years and worked his/her whole life wants to do is to take his/her lifetime memories and possessions and move them into three drawers and a closet space in a facility. Today's long term care polices have answered the consumer fears. The best policies are those designed to keep people at home and use a facility as a last resort.

Home care benefits provided under long term care policies have evolved
into a very meaningful benefit that is often utilized to bridge the gap between independence and confinement. At one time, home care benefits only provided for skilled care at home. Benefits were only paid for services available through licensed nurses or practitioners. The policies were limited, as were the availability of professional home health care services.

In the past, most home health care policies failed to meet the expectations of what the very idea of their name promised. Today's policies offer a wide variety of benefits that even go beyond what was envisioned just a few years ago. The availability of home health care services are endless and the industry has risen to the challenge. Present day policies offer a full array of benefits and cover care provided by skilled practitioners, as well as, assistance with one's activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, transferring, ambulating and continence which are provided by certified nurses assistants and home health aides. Furthermore, our plans provide benefits for unlicensed, unskilled help at home. These benefits can be provided by a friend, neighbor, church group or social organization, as well as a family member. These unskilled homemakers provide assistance with instrumental activities of daily living, a term which may still be foreign to many. These activities include cooking, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, bill paying and medication management. At one time, it would have been impossible to have a plan like this. It is only through the growth and availability of home care services across the nation that has allowed these types of benefits. Obviously, there are services I haven't mentioned here, such as adult day care and meals on wheels. People have a desire to stay at home and the policies are meeting the demands set forth by the consumers.

Unfortunately, some health conditions require care that is not conducive to a home environment and not always what is best for the individual. At some point, the person may need the full services of a facility. Facility care has, however, also drastically changed and when people visit a nursing home, it is not the place they originally pictured. Today's facilities are layered with levels of care. In fact, the three levels of care referred to for a number of years, skilled, intermediate and custodial, in many cases just scratch the surface of the total care that is available. Today, Nursing Facility Administrators speak of at least six to eight layers of facility care. The services range from highly skilled services, such as physical therapy and sub-acute services which once were provided in a hospital, down to the lowest level of custodial care, such as assistance with daily activities of living. Custodial services today are most often found in an assisted living, personal care or residential care facility. In understanding the care an assisted living facility provides, it is most important to have knowledge as to the manner in which care is provided. These assisted living facilities provide for a round the clock supervision, yet it is provided with dignity and enables a person to retain a degree of independence. Usually, it is a standard requirement that a resident maintain a certain amount of mobility in order to be admitted. Residents can enjoy the privacy of their own room and eat their meals in the company of others in a dining room. Often times, when one enters an assisted living facility it is an emotional up lift for that person. One of our insured recently told us, after entering an Assisted Living facility, that, `I don't know why I struggled at home for so long.' A nursing home is no longer a place to die but has become a place to live. The dynamic changes that have occurred with facility care across the nation have now allowed benefits for assisted living facilities that enables us to meet our clients fullest expectations.

Consumers want to know that they will be able to get the care they need, when they need it, and that their insurance will protect them when that time comes. When evaluating a policy you want to make sure the benefits cover
the variety of types of long term care and, that they are defined in the policy. Just as importantly, you want to know the way in which companies offer access to these benefits so people can get them when they need them.

We have specialized in Long Term Care insurance for over 25 years and are a leader in the market. The company offers an superior and innovative portfolio of long term care plans including comprehensive and stand alone nursing facility and home health care policies. In October of 1997, the Personal Freedom plan was ranked the number one comprehensive plan in the country by a popular consumer magazine.




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