Campaign Urges Pre-retirees to Plan for Long-term Care Needs

“Mama said there’ll be days like this…there’ll be days like this, Mama said”. If you’re old enough to remember this ‘60’s Shirelle’s hit, you’re old enough to be finding a letter from the governor’s office in your mailbox this month.

The State of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services teamed up to kick off Own Your Future, a public awareness campaign targeting Minnesotans 40 to 65, urging them to take action and plan now for their future long term care needs.

The numbers are sobering. Those older than 65 have a 70 per cent chance of needing care someday, and most often, family members are the first to provide that care. But physical and emotional costs for caregivers come at a price. Care can last for months or years, and when it becomes too much of a burden, families often need to seek help from agencies and facilities.

The financial cost of care can be steep. Most pre-retirees think Medicare or ‘other health insurance’ pays for long term care. It won’t. These costs can decimate retirement plans, reduce income for surviving spouses and obliterate assets that had been hoped to be left to heirs. You or someone in your family needing care one day is like having your own personal stock market crash.

When financial resources are exhausted, many are forced to turn to publicly funded programs like Medicaid for assistance. That’s why the state is launching the Own Your Future campaign.

According to a report drafted by the Minnesota Legislature in 2005, by the year 2030, Minnesota will have tripled the number of 85-year-olds. And as the Baby Boomers grow older, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of Minnesotans who will need long term care. If there is no increase in those who choose private financing options, the State could see a significant, and unsustainable, increase in demand on the Medicaid budget for long term care.

‘We need to engage all Minnesotans in thinking about how they will plan for and pay for the care they are likely to need as we as a nation are living longer and growing older”, said Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, chairwoman of the MN Own Your Future advisory panel.

Minnesota is not alone. Our campaign builds on Own Your Future campaigns that have been introduced in 26 states since 2005.

It is the hope of the campaign that through education and awareness there’ll be an increase in the number of Minnesotans taking action to address and provide for their own long term care needs through private financing options so they can have control, choice and peace of mind about their futures.

An Own Your Future website has been set up to help Minnesotans better understand long term care, gather information for planning, outline affordable financing options, and offer planning resources. Visit mn.gov/ownyourfuture.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to long term care planning. It’s up to each of us to find someone we trust to help us wade through the choices and the plans and to arrive at our own personal solution.

Do it for yourself, but, more importantly, do it for the people you care about, because, as Mama said, “There’ll be days like this.” I think most mamas also told us to hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Own your future.

 

PATRICIA FRANCISCO, LTCP, of Duluth

is a specialist in long-term care planning

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