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The costs of long-term care are often thought of in terms of monetary expenses. Although paying for care out of pocket can be very expensive, it is just as important to think about the cost of providing care over a period of years in non-economic terms.
The need for long-term care is often necessitated because an individual is no longer able to get through his or her physical daily routine or maintain his or her cognitive skills. The resulting care needed is referred to as custodial care. The family becomes involved because the individual is no longer safe. At the beginning it is usually a simple matter of setting out a routine and encouraging a loved one to adhere to it. As the illness progresses, however, thoughts turn to bringing in skilled personnel such as home health care providers or geriatric care managers to take on some of the responsibility.
It is at this point that the family often discovers that Medicare or the VA, which they thought would help shoulder the caregiving responsibility, will not pay for custodial care. When caregivers realize that custodial care will only be paid for by their own assets and income the reaction is to undertake the increasing burden of providing care on themselves.
This is when the physical and emotional toll starts to accumulate because of the nature of long-term care. If you are not able to get through your daily physical routine or if you have a cognitive impairment, you are no longer safe. That means that someone else has to be available on a 24-hour basis. The cumulative effect of being on-call combined with the physical effort to assist someone can be devastating, both physically and emotionally, to caregivers. This leads to the first of two maxims:
In almost every situation it necessitates one or more children becoming involved. And since the responsibility is rarely shared equally it often leads to the second truth:
Now you may not believe you will ever need care over a period of years. And you may be correct; the risk of needing long-term care may be negligible. But do you now begin to see what the consequences of guessing wrong will be?
You may also consider checking out our Long Term Care Calculator.