Enrichment for Life

By Jeff Taratoot | jefft@acahomecare.com

It’s that special time of year again. Chanukah is here, and as Jews we celebrate our freedom and our miraculous victory against the Greeks.

It’s an exciting time when we are planning our Chanukah menus, thinking about what to buy the kids and grandkids, and maybe planning a warm-weather or ski vacation. We spend a lot of time and effort planning for ourselves and our families on gifts, menus, excursions and even what to wear to a holiday party.

Planning is such an essential part of our lives that it’s second nature to us all. We hope that our lives go as smoothly as we’ve planned; however, as we all know, that is not always the case.

If I asked you whether you had a plan if your house burned down tomorrow, you would look at me with disbelief and say, “Of course, I do. I have homeowner’s insurance.” If I asked whether you had a plan if you had an automobile accident today, you’d say, “Of course, I do. I have automobile insurance.”

You probably have life insurance to protect your family. We plan to protect the things in life that are closest to our hearts: our family, our home, our nest egg.

What would you answer if I asked whether you have thought about what you would do if your health were to change in a sudden manner, such as a bad car accident, a debilitating fall, cancer or a heart attack? Who would take care of you? How would you provide for your family?

What if I asked you about getting older and the type of plan you have in place for aging? What if you or a loved one were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?

Long-term-care planning is a subject that isn’t fun to think about, but you will be far better off if you think about it sooner rather than later. Long-term-care insurance will cover your care whether you are in your own home (78 percent of claimants receive care in the comfort of their own homes) or in the community at an adult day care center, assisted living or a nursing home.

It is better to have long-term-care insurance than pay out of pocket, which can quickly add up.

Home care provides services for seniors and the recovering individual (car accident, cancer, heart attack, etc.) in the comfort of home. Seniors like to be in their favorite room in the house, in their beloved chair, and they enjoy the space home provides. Plus, they can eat meals at any time and eat what they want to eat, maintaining the independence they have always had.

Services in the home range from bathing and grooming to medication reminders, rides to doctor’s appointments, light housekeeping and meal preparation. When using an agency, one also gets the security of not having to worry about workers’ compensation and liability insurance because the home care company provides the insurance policies as part of its services (the cost is built into the hourly rate). Plus, all caregivers receive national background checks and customer service training.

Other seniors may prefer an assisted living facility. These facilities have become more common as the U.S. population ages. They range from small two-story facilities to luxurious high-rises in Buckhead, such as Lenbrook and the Piedmont. Monthly rent can range from $3,000 to $7,500, depending on the age of the facility, number of bedrooms, location, number of meals provided, sheltered or uncovered parking, activities, and other factors.

A nice feature of this type of living is the freedom of not having to worry about the aging roof, air conditioner or water heater.

Seniors and their adult children must understand there is more of a daily set schedule (meals typically are given at certain times of the day), and of course the apartments are much smaller than their old homes, so much of the furniture and belongings will have to be given to family members or sold.

It is important to keep in mind that your loved one may still require one-on-one care whose cost is not part of the monthly base rent. Some services are available at additional costs. It is important to get those prices upfront, even if your loved one does not need the extra care immediately, so you can do financial planning. As your loved one needs more attention, the price could go up based on the care provided.

There are also some excellent day programs in Atlanta. The new Adult Day Care of Dunwoody offers all types of activities. The executive director, Georgia Gunther, has put together a well-rounded program that includes entertainment, daily exercise geared to each member, art therapy, pet therapy, music and lunch. Such programs are available each weekday or only a few days per week, based on the clients’ wishes.

This holiday season is the perfect time to give yourself, your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren a thoughtful, meaningful gift, something that will give them peace of mind and help with the financial burden when the unthinkable happens. Having some kind of plan in place is vitally important today, more than ever.

 

Jeffrey Taratoot owns A Caring Approach Home Care. Judy Schulman, an insurance adviser with Mid-South Financial Group, contributed to this column.