Friday, December 29, 2006

Americans are uninformed about long term care

According to a recent release by the AARP many Americans over the age of 45 do not understand just how expensive long term care is and how long term care insurance can help them.

One notable quote from the report tells us that most people "overestimate the amount that government programs such as Medicare will pay."

I have said before that Medicare does NOT cover many of the services that long term care patients require. In the instances that it does pay, it often does not pay in full for the required treatments.

Here are some more interesting statistics from the AARP study:

"less than one in ten (8%) could the cost of nursing home care"

"More than half (52%) incorrectly believe Medicare covers assisted living"

"Six in 10 (59%) believe Medicare covers nursing home stays beyond three-months for age-related or other chronic conditions, which is not true."

You can find the press release and links to the actual study from the AARP HERE

These troubling statistics represent the exact reason that I started this blog. So many people have misconceptions or confusion about how they will be taken care of when they get older or find themselves needing some type of long term care due to disability.

Most of us will spend some amount of time in a nursing home or long term care facility before we die. The length of time that we will spend there is unknown, but with advances in medications and healthcare technology, many people are able to "live" much longer.

Thus, when we are afflicted with a serious medical condition that would have resulted in death a decade ago, we are now more likely to stay alive, but will require some form of assistance. Just looking back at the past 10 years there have been great medical discoveries and innovations, imagine how much longer we will be able to live 10 years from now.

My suggestion is that you do not allow yourself to be as misinformed as the people in the survey. Educate yourself about the cost of long term care and what government programs like Medicare and Medicaid actually cover.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Shape Of Long Term Care Facilities

Have you ever stopped to think about why a long term care facility is designed the way that it is?

In most cases a nursing home is designed in the shape of an "+". In the center of the + is the nurses station. Down the lengths of the + are the hallways and patient rooms. This is done for a few reasons.

One reason is that decades ago healthcare providers learned that having proper ventilation is crucial to preventing nosocomial infections. Nosocomial infections are ones that are passed from patient to patient. Proper ventilation of hospitals and nursing homes has helped to reduce the likelihood of nosocomial infections.

The second reason that long term care facilities are generally designed in this manner is one of convenience. From the center of the building that is shaped like a + sign, the nurses and other caregivers can quickly reach a patient's room and keep an eye on the patients that may be wondering the halls.

Unfortunately designers of these facilities must consider that there are a handful of nurses to provide care to a high number of patients. Yes, there are a few legal requirements that indicate the bare minimum that is required, but is that enough?

When you or one of your family members are in one of these facilities do you want the minimum number of nurses that the law requires or do you want a facility that actually meets the patients needs?

Investing in long term care insurance can help you have more choices as to where you receive care in your latter years. If you rely only on Medicare and Medicaid to cover your long term care needs, you will find yourself in facilities that can only afford the minimum levels of care.

The higher the ratio of healthcare providers to patients greatly increases patient health and satisfaction rates. These satisfaction rates are not only of the patients but of the healthcare workers as well.

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