Talking Retirement with Your Loved Ones

The fear of not being able to care for yourself is common, especially among the elderly. Facing that fear alone can lead to financial and emotional disaster in the future, which is why it’s important to engage your family and discuss your plans with them before retirement.

Retirement Worries

Merrill Lynch released a study that helped identify the prevailing hopes and fears that dictate perception of retirement and long term care. The two top worries, they found, were outliving retirement savings and being a burden on family members.

In an interesting breakdown, the financial concern seemed to prevail in the younger population, while older adults were more worried about burdening their loved ones.

What constitutes a burden, though, is not as simple as you may think. Researchers dove a little deeper into what participants consider to be a burden to better understand attitudes towards long term care.

Defining a Burden 

Nearly half of respondents (49%) said that having family members physically care for them is a burden, and 30% considered taking family away from their own lives to provide care a burden. Slightly fewer, about 28% of people, view asking family for financial assistance as a burden, and just 22% view moving in with loved ones as a burden.

All in all, it seems that physical care is what most people anticipate to cause the most issues. Instead of discussing these fears with family members and loved ones, too often people keep their concerns, wants, and needs to themselves until a medical emergency changes the dynamic.

When the need for care occurs, if nothing has been discussed, chaos and stress usually manifest within the situation, and family tension and disagreement may arise. This type of scenario is the perfect example of why planning ahead can make such a huge difference in the quality of care you receive.

Having the Talk

The Merrill Lynch study discovered that only 36% of adults over the age of 50 have discussed their will or inheritance with their adult children, and a mere 10% have talked about how they plan to pay for long term care. The need for families to talk is serious.

The earlier you have this important discussion, the better off your entire family will be in the future. Medical emergencies often happen without warning; don’t be stuck trying to arrange care at the last minute.

Long term care insurance can help you prepare for this type of situation. This type of coverage shields your assets from the full cost of care and prevents you from burdening your family with the need for unpaid care. Read more about planning for long term care in retirement or fill out this form and receive a personalized comparison of the top long term care companies today.

Alzheimer’s Association Houston Chapter Gets New Headquarters

The Houston and Southeast Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is getting a new home early next year. A $3 million renovation project will result in the nearly tripling of the organization’s current building size and make room for more community programs and services, representatives say.

Expanding in Size

Located on South Loop East, the new building was formerly occupied by Plus4 Credit Union and is nearly triple the size of the Association’s previous headquarters, which measured 5,800 square feet. The new location measures 16,300 square feet and provides room for the organization to help serve more people in the area.

The construction is expected to be finished in early 2014 and the building plans to be open by the end of the new year’s first quarter. Local companies have helped by donating their services to the organization. Gensler, an architectural firm, donated their services by designing the renovations and surrounding grounds. CW Lighting & Associates and T.R.W. Modernfold are also donating products to the new building.

The expanding population of seniors in Texas requires a great deal of attention, especially as the number of people with Alzheimer’s in the state is expected to triple in the next few decades.

Detailed Plans

The entire 1st floor of the building will serve as the area for chapter services and programs, allowing more space for people in the community to receive assistance and information. The second floor is designated for administrative offices and services. The Southeast Texas chapter currently serves about 20,000 people every year, who are spread across 37 counties in the state.

A music room will be added to the building, along with a “memory cafe” or lounge, and a separate reception area. A kitchen will also be included in the building. An outdoor pavilion surrounded by a walking path, gardens, and a great deal of planted trees will be included in the outdoor grounds. Floors, ceilings, and walls will also all be updated during the renovation.

The groundbreaking ceremony involving board members and directors of the organization was held on October 9th at the new location.

Read more about Alzheimer’s Association at the chapter website or find out more about the increasing prevalence of dementia in the state of Texas is affecting long term care providers and how best to plan for the risk.

Dallas Nursing Home Spends Weekend Without Power

A nursing home in Dallas was forced to spend the past weekend without power.

Golden Acres Nursing Home

Golden Acres Living and Rehabilitation Center experienced a power outage last Friday and despite attempts to have the power turned on, no such thing happened until Monday afternoon. The facility has more than 200 residents at the moment.

In the mean time, the nursing home used backup generators throughout the weekend to help keep their vulnerable residents comfortable, but on Monday morning, they experienced a total blackout.

Repeated Attempts

A representative from Oncor, the utility company, said that they were unaware that the facility was a nursing home, otherwise it would have been higher on their priority list. Some say that isn’t the case, though, as they called the company repeatedly and specifically told them it was a nursing home.

Linda Roberts, daughter of a resident, told a local news station that her repeated pleas to the power company went unanswered for three days.

“It has been a very bad situation, especially this morning,” said Roberts. “Yesterday was bad enough, but today, when there is no lights, no heat, no power at all, it is very dangerous.”

Vulnerable Residents

Executive director of the home said that blankets, coats, and hats were used to keep the residents warm, but nonetheless, it posed a danger to residents. He also said that he was calling and texting the company to his best avail. Power was restored on Monday afternoon.

Residents are already extremely vulnerable during the winter, but a situation like this only serves to further worsen their vulnerability and could potentially cause health problems for those who are especially frail or sensitive to changes like extreme temperatures.

To read the full news report and see a video interview from Fox Dallas-Forth Worth, click here.

Texas Ranks 39th in Senior Health

In a new report released by the United Health Foundation, Texas ranks 39th out of all 50 states in overall senior health. This ranking sheds some light on the issues that seniors in Texas currently face.

What Was Measured

Americans are living longer than ever before, but our health just isn’t keeping up. Seniors across the nation are experiencing health issues and needs that may not always be resolved or met. This may be due to economic status, location, lack of transportation, lack of information, or other reasons.

The United Health Foundation used 34 different factors to comprehensively analyze the senior health of each state. The 34 factors measured in the report are of 2 types — determinants and outcomes. Determinants are factors that can affect the future health of the population, whereas outcomes represent what has already occurred either through death or disease. For example, physical inactivity is a determinant while hip fractures are an outcome.

Physical inactivity, poverty, hip fractures, drug coverage, obesity, smoking, premature death rate, and hospital re-admission rates were just some of the factors measured in the report. Texas ranked at the bottom of the list, at number 39 of 50. However, like any state, Texas has its negatives and positives when it comes to senior health.

Texas – What’s the Problem?

Although everything is bigger in Texas, bigger might not be better in all cases. The newly released report found that more than 690,000 adults aged 65 and older in Texas are obese, ranking 33rd in the nation for senior obesity.

The measures in which Texas ranked worst, designated state “challenges”, include a low prevalence of able-bodied seniors and a high prevalence of both activity-limiting arthritis pain and food insecurity. These are three hugely important issues that affect the overall quality of life. The high prevalence of arthritis pain and food insecurity could both play a large role in the low prevalence of able-bodied seniors across the state.

The food that we eat plays a large role in our health, so if seniors are unable to access quality whole foods, their health will suffer. Eating the right foods can affect your arthritis, so it is crucial that those suffering from the disease have reliable food resources.

Community support for seniors was another area that Texas came in low, ranked 48 among 50 states. In addition,  Texas has one of the highest rates of seniors living in poverty at 11.3 percent of adults aged 65 and older. The high food insecurity in the state can be reflected back upon both of these issues. Community support programs for seniors, like those provided by the Area Agencies on Aging in Texas, can help provide resources that seniors would not have had access to otherwise, like Meals on Wheels, Nutritional Counseling, and other services that can help improve senior health and quality of life.

Simply participating in community programs and socially interacting with others can help seniors feel engaged with their surroundings. Benefits of social interaction in your senior years include lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of depression, and a potentially reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

It’s Not All Bad

Although Texas ranked 39th overall, the state still boasts some positives in terms of senior health. The report found that Texas’s strengths included a low prevalence of underweight seniors, a ready availability of home health care workers, and a high percentage of hospice care.

These measures show an indication of a shifting focus to the long term care industry, which is a positive thing for all seniors in Texas. Texas has a quickly growing senior population and the state is adjusting to keep up with this trend. Construction of long term care facilities that focus on memory care is growing in Texas, another indication that the state is catching up with the huge population of seniors.

How to Avoid the Health Crisis

One way to ensure you won’t be dealing with some of the issues facing seniors today is investing in Long Term Care Insurance. This insurance can help you cover the costs of long term care, should you ever need it. Long term care services are for those who have trouble with basic daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, and preparing food. For those Texans with activity-limiting arthritic pain, long term care may be necessary.

If you have a significant amount of assets saved, Long Term Care Insurance can help you protect those assets and provide you with the quality care you deserve. There are a number of great LTCI providers who have longevity in the industry and don’t have a large history of rate increases. Do your research and invest your money in insurance that will help you at the time when you need it most. You worked hard for your nest egg savings and should be able to enjoy retirement without worrying about how to pay for your next health care bill.

Just How Expensive is Long Term Care in Texas?

The cost of Long Term Care in the United States has steadily risen in the past decade. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care services are now more expensive than ever. Fortunately for Texans, Long Term Care costs in the Lone Star State are still significantly lower than the national averages.

The Texas Advantage

According to the 2013 Cost of Care Survey released by Genworth Financial, Texas has some of the lowest Long Term Care costs in the nation. While the national median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is $83,950, the median cost in Texas for the same service is only $61,320. The difference of over $22,000 is a highly significant chunk  of money that could be put towards other expenses or saved for future use. Compare the cost in Texas to states like California where the median cost is just under $98,000 annually or Alaska where the median cost is a shocking $255,891, and it becomes clear that the difference in cost truly matters.

Furthermore, the national median cost for a private room in a nursing home was up 7.4% from $77,745 in 2011, but the Texas median only increased 1.8% from the 2011 median of $60,225. That indicates that in addition to lower costs overall, the cost growth rate is also lower in Texas compared to the nation as a whole.

The national and Texas medians were more similar when it came to assisted living facilities and in-home care services, but the numbers differed considerably again in regard to adult day cares. Adult day cares are non-residential facilities where caregivers can take a long term care patient for the day. These facilities incorporate health, social interaction, help with daily tasks, and therapeutic services. The national median cost for an adult day care center was $16,900 annually. In Texas, the median was almost exactly half that at $8,580 yearly.

Preparing for Long Term Care

Just because long term care services in Texas are cheaper than the rest of the country certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan to pay for them. Planning for your future long term care health needs is a vital part of retirement planning. Because Texas has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates, the state health care system is struggling to stay afloat. More than 6.3 million Texans are uninsured, meaning a lot of people will soon be turning to Medicaid for their long term health needs. This has the potential to lead to substandard quality of care within the government subsidized health programs.

The looming Medicaid crisis in Texas only encourages Long Term Care Insurance more. With LTCI, you don’t have to run the risk of compromising care for cost. An LTCI policy will safeguard your assets from depletion, while ensuring you receive the quality care you deserve. The state and private insurers worked together to create a Long Term Care Insurance Partnership program for the state, offering a variety of plans to Texas residents.

Interested in Long Term Care Insurance in Texas? Read more about Texas LTCI Partnership policies here.

Get the latest LTCI quotes from the top cities in Texas here.

Brace Yourself for High Health Care Costs in Retirement

When planning for retirement, there is often little focus on the detailed costs. Rather, many people simply guesstimate how much money they will need to continue paying for their daily lives and base their contribution rates off that. Unfortunately, one cost is often left out of the planning process, and it can easily be one of the biggest ones you will face.

Retirement Health Care

Health care costs in retirement can be staggeringly high, with a recent study placing them at around $220,000 for the average couple.

This may be shocking to some, but that estimate already assumes you are eligible for Medicare and doesn’t include any costs covered by that program. That estimate also doesn’t include expenses like over the counter medications, some dental care, and the biggest cost of all, long term care.

Long term care is typically the expense that causes the most financial stress among retirees, especially those who haven’t adequately prepared for it. No one wants to consider themselves in poor health, but doing so can help you be ahead of the game when it comes to saving for retirement. The majority of people understand that health care costs are a big obstacle to overcome, and 84% of adults surveyed in a recent Fidelity study said they are worried about being able to pay for their health care costs in retirement.

Unrealistic Optimism

The study also found that most  people tend to be optimistic, sometimes naively so, when it comes to their future health. Of course not every one will end up spending $220,000 for health care costs in their retirement years; some will spend more and some will spend less. Accurately addressing your own risk, though, can help you determine how much you might need.

Unfortunately, most people think they will be better off in old age than the rest of retirees. 71% of survey respondents say their health will be “better than average” in retirement. There is often a sense of invincibility when it comes to future health. People either don’t want to consider the fact that they may ever need care for health problems or truly believe their good health will last forever. Either way, that can be a dangerous perspective in terms of retirement planning.

Nearly half of adults aged 55-64 who were interviewed for the survey said they expect their total health care costs to be around $50,000 for retirement. Again, $220,000 doesn’t apply to every one, but $50,000 is an extremely low number, especially if that’s all those workers plan to save. Inflation also plays a huge role in the cost of health care, and not preparing for the impact that inflation has can come with some big risks of being underprepared and faced with a huge surprise later down the road if they ever need long term care, which even now averages more than $50,000 for a single year of care for one person.

Planning for the Price of Care

Establishing a plan to save for these costs is vital to being prepared when the time comes. Setting aside that much money in cash assets for health care alone is difficult for many people, which is where Long Term Care Insurance may be able to help. Long Term Care Insurance provides coverage for health care costs associated with long term care and these days, most good policies cover care whether it is received in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or from a home health aide.

Rather than set aside $220,000 in cash assets to prepare for health care costs, investing in a Long Term Care Insurance policy and transferring the risk can help you avoid having to accumulate that much wealth for that one cost. If you opt for the Inflation Protection benefit, which we recommend every one do, the value of your benefits will grow in pace with inflation, so you won’t have to worry about how costs have risen years later when you need care.

It’s crucial to look into policies when you are younger, in your 40s or 50s, rather than waiting until your 60s or 70s. You will have a much better chance of medically qualifying then and your rates will also be substantially less. Just be sure you work with an independent agent who helps you compare different carriers and finds the plan that works best for your needs.

If you are interested in learning more about Long Term Care Insurance, we offer no-cost personalized quote comparisons of the top rated carriers in the industry to help you get a better idea of how much benefits cost. Simply fill out this form and we will be in touch with you shortly.