What you need to know about long-term care insurance

How to take care of your parents

TAMPA - Mary Bruels says a decision her mother made more than 20 years ago turned out to be one of the most important affecting her life today.

At that point, Mary's mother, Marjorie, realized as she and her husband got older - they might not be able to afford expenses not covered by Medicare - so she invested in long-term care.

You are responsible for covering your long-term care needs, whether it's buying a long-term care insurance policy, whether it is paying for it out of pocket or relying on the help of family and friends to provide your long-term care needs.

Michele Manzo-Lembo with Always Best Care senior services, which helps families with in-home care and assisted living, says it's important to understand what long-term care is and how to pay for it.

Long-term care is custodial care.  It's not medical care, so it's generally not covered by insurance.  A common misconception is that long-term care needs will be covered by Medicare, and Medicare only pays for long-term care needs under very limited circumstances

According to the AARP long term care can include:

  • - Changes to your home to make it safer and easier to get around
  • -Technology that helps you stay independent,
  • -Help with housekeeping and personal care, like bathing and getting dressed.

Here are some ways to figure out if you're a candidate for the policy, according to Consumer Reports:

First, add up the income and assets that you and your spouse are likely to have for living expenses and to pay for long-term care.  Then figure out how much you should be able to pay out-of -pocket for your care and how much you would want an insurance policy to cover.

There's also the elimination period to consider, which means you will need to decide how long you are willing to cover your own care before the policy kicks in. You will pay less if you buy a policy before the age of 60.

The month-long campaign, Taking Action for your Parents, can be found at abcactionnews.com/yourparents.

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