Long term care should be discussed

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Life expectancy (80.4 years in 2010) is increasing in the UK meaning more people are living longer and entering an age when they may need care. The demographic shift is also being accompanied by changing social patterns: smaller families; different residential patterns and increased female labour force participation. These factors often contribute to an increased need for paid care.

Long-term care (LTC) covers the medical and non-medical needs of people with a chronic illness or disability who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time.  It may be needed by people of any age, although is most common for senior citizens.

Long-term care provides help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Increasingly, it involves providing a level of medical care that requires the expertise of skilled practitioners to address the often multiple chronic conditions associated with older populations. It can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes.

According to a recent study, four out of every ten people who reach the age of 65 will enter a nursing home at some point in their lives. And around 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more.

In 2012, the average annual cost of nursing home care in East Anglia was £38,272; this varies across the rest of the country.  This is significantly more than the average pension!  So how can this be paid for?

Many individuals may feel uncomfortable relying on their children or family members for support, and may find that long-term care insurance could help cover out-of-pocket expenses. Without long-term care insurance, the cost of buying these services may quickly deplete the savings and other assets of the individual and/or their family.

Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, day care, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s facilities.  If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed.  It will pay for a visiting or live-in caregiver, companion, housekeeper, therapist or private duty nurse up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day (up to the policy benefit maximum).  Check the terms of your individual policy for specific terms.

Premiums paid on a long-term care insurance product may be eligible for an income tax deduction. The amount of the deduction depends on the age of the covered person.  Benefits paid from a long-term care contract are generally excluded from income.

Long term care is a subject that families need to discuss.  Independent financial advice should be sought in conjunction with any long term care financial planning.

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