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Coronavirus is making it harder to get long-term care

Written by Diane Archer

The financial and emotional toll of caring for older adults has always been enormous. The novel coronavirus pandemic is making it still harder for caregivers attending to older adults living at home and, even more so, in nursing homes. Bob Herman reports for Axios on why long-term care has become an even bigger issue with COVID-19.

The data show that older adults are most at risk of becoming gravely ill or dying if they get the novel coronavirus. Many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been hard-pressed to contain the spread of the virus. The particular vulnerability of older adults if they get COVID-19 means added stress for them and the people who care for them.

The question becomes how to ensure older adults receive long-term care safely and affordably. Assisted living facilities and other group homes for older adults tend to cost a minimum of $4,000 a month. Medicare and private health insurance almost never covers their cost. Long-term care insurance will usually cover the cost, but it tends to be a bad investment.

Medicaid often covers the cost of nursing home coverage for people with low incomes and limited assets. In order for Medicaid to pay, people with more savings need to spend them. Depending upon the state you live in, your income may need to be very low. Also, many nursing homes are not safe and deliver poor quality care.

When choosing a nursing home, check out Nursing Home Inspect. Do not rely on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare; it’s star-rating system is a farce. Kaiser Health News reports on how poorly many nursing homes do at controlling the spread of infections.

Increasingly, people opt for home care as a safer alternative. Over the last several years, more older adults are choosing to age in place, remaining in their homes and hiring home health aides or having friends and loved ones care for them.

But, aging in place can be enormously costly unless family or friend caregivers are able to help when needed. It also can be difficult to keep a paid caregiver. Wages tend to be low and turnover rates are high. And, in this time of COVID-19, having caregivers coming and going from the home of a loved one has its own set of risks.

If you are thinking of moving into an assisted living facility or other care facility, now is a hard time to consider your options. In person tours are limited at best. Virtual tours do not provide a 360 degree view of the facility. Unfortunately, it might still be several months before these facilities reopen.

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