Carol, age 86, lived by herself in an apartment and was staying home as much as possible due to the coronavirus shelter-at-home recommendations. As her care manager, I was concerned about her and so was her only son, Henry, who lived out of state and hadn’t been able to visit his mother for weeks. She was frail and before the virus struck, we had talked about her having in-home assistance for bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. That discussion had gone on hold, but several weeks had passed.
While I was in touch with Carol by phone and had arranged for her to have her groceries and medication delivered, she told me she often didn’t bother with making meals for herself. The day she mentioned that she had slipped in the shower but luckily hadn’t been hurt, I knew we couldn’t delay any longer. The fact was, it was risky for Carol to continue living alone and she needed help with the activities of daily living. The virus also made it risky for her to have contact with other people. That risk would be even higher if she had to be hospitalized or go into a nursing home. I spoke to her son about the pros and cons of in-home care.
“Mom has a long term care insurance policy,” Henry said. “Do you think it’s time that she uses it? I’ve brought it up before, and she says she has to ‘save it’ for an emergency.”
Sometimes seniors are reluctant to activate the long term care policies they’ve paid into for years, and the reasons vary. Policies can be complex and difficult to understand, and seniors may not realize that they can access services if they’re living at home or in an independent living environment. Sometimes seniors fear that acknowledging they need help means they’ll lose the independence they still have.
Carol’s policy provided for in-home services to help her with activities of daily living. But as with most policies, there was a waiting period of 90 days, called the “elimination period,” before services could start. This was a good reason for Carol to activate her policy before she had a health crisis and her options became more limited.
Henry agreed to help his mother pay for services until the elimination period ended, and I located a reputable agency that had Covid-19 protocols in place for their caregivers. I also helped Henry and his mother with the ins and outs of the process to start services, explained how to submit invoices to the insurance company, and managed other details specific to the policy. Carol’s quality of life improved once she had in-home services, and I continued to monitor her care.
Do you have similar concerns about a family member who has a long term care policy? In these difficult times, a care manager can offer direction and guidance when it’s time to activate the policy. If you need help in the Rochester, New York, area, please reach out to us at 585-787-0009 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If your aging parent is outside of our area, you can still contact us for a referral to a geriatric care manager in other locations.