A Sensible Alternative for Seniors

Back in the day, individuals or couples who could afford it anticipataed their later years by purchasing Long Term Care insurance. This helps explain the fair number of Assisted Living Facilities already existing or springing up, usually in lush, country-like environments that offer banquet style meals, the latest in workout equipment, bus trips to concerts and art galleries, and super-comfortable apartments for which you pay a lot.

These days it is enormously costly for insurance companies to meet their payments on these policies, especially since their payees are living so long. So programs have begun that encourage seniors, if their health permits, to “age in place” without claiming the benefits of their policies. The elderly are urged to cope with the difficulties of aging, in other words, at home. But this is not the “home health care” still available under Long Term Care policies. For one thing, they cost their customers nothing. They do require continuing payment of their Long Term Care premiums, and the aging may begin enjoying the benefits of that expense anytime they choose.

Critics may be skeptical of this appearance of generosity. Naturally insurance companies would dance with glee at not having to pay for the luxurious accommodations or the home health care they promised their Long Term Care customers years ago (and still do) and offering them instead the far less expensive alternative of “aging in place”?

This criticism assumes that luxurious living in fancy facilities or the comforts of aging at home under a Long Term Policy are far more valuable than free programs helping seniors cope with the onset of old age. But are assisted living and the home health care long available under Long Term Care policies necessarily the best means of aging just because they are more expensive? The answer to this question of course depends on the medical situations of the individual seniors in question.

Free programs allowing the elderly to take advantage of “aging in place” initiatives outside of their Long Term Care benefits are sponsored by the same insurance companies that provide them with those benefits. The companies partner with groups dedicated to helping people age at home for as long as they can, and only then benefit from their their Long Term Care policies either in a facility or at home, depending on their circumstances. These outside groups provide trained personnel who can be phoned at any time, who make helpful home visits, and who assess health problems before they become serious–for example, increased chances of falling, early signs of stroke and/or cognitive impairment–meanwhile recommending practical solutions. They also run social events acquainting participants with other seniors struggling with problems similar to theirs. And all this at no cost whatsoever.

I will be highlighting in a future post the benefits my wife and I have already experienced from such a program.

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