What Senior Care Looked Like Sixty Years Ago

Nearly 60 years ago, in 1959, LIFE magazine ran a four-part photo essay that spawned national outrage and spurred the country toward change. Billed as a real-life kind of horror show, the magazine captured in stunning detail the harrowing experience of America’s senior citizens.

This was before Medicare, before Medicaid, before our modern medical advances, and just a couple of decades into Social Security. If the elderly are still fighting for visibility in today’s society, they were all but veiled then. Most Americans were blissfully unaware of the typical conditions in a senior care facility, which were far worse than the still-lacking nursing homes we know today.

Shot in haunting black and white, the pictures shook readers to their cores. There was nothing especially graphic or grotesque in them, but the stifling unhappiness of these people’s lives was nearly tangible. LIFE challenged readers to picture their own parents or grandparents “stored away like vegetables,” reminding the young that a similar fate awaited them, too.

Then the editors went beyond merely showcasing the problem. They called for action and solutions. Looking back, we might consider it one of the many impetuses for Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, in a new retrospective on the original photo essay, TIME/LIFE credits Medicare with much of the change we’ve seen since then.

Unfortunately, Medicare and Medicaid still don’t solve all of senior’s problems, and securing their benefits can prove entirely too difficult. In my office, I work with the elderly and their families every day to ensure that their own senior-care experience paints a much better picture. With the right strategies and plans in place, there is no reason that today’s elderly can’t enjoy extremely happy and fulfilling lives throughout old age.

If you’d like to look back into the past, you can view many of the 1959 photos on the TIME/LIFE website. Meanwhile, if you’d like some help with your own senior care planning here in the present day, please feel free to give me a call. I’m here to help.

Halloween, Medicare, and The Pumpkin Rule

It’s Halloween time and the smell of pumpkin is in the air. You can’t step inside a coffee shop, bakery, or candle store this time of year without a waft of pumpkin spice greeting you at the door. Pumpkin’s everywhere! Including… Medicare?

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

Back in August 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new Medicaid rule changing the way hospitals admit incoming patients. Under the new rule, any patient expected to spend more than two midnights must be admitted as “inpatient” rather than for “observation.” Given its Cinderella­-ish parameters, the new edict quickly became known as “The Pumpkin Rule.”

But hospitals don’t like it. Once upon a time, they could classify an elderly patient as an “observation,” even if that person spent multiple nights in the hospital’s care — and charge them higher co-pays accordingly.

The Pumpkin Rule would change all that. Unfortunately, as the Guardian Liberty Voice reports, lobbying by the hospital industry has pushed enforcement back to March 2015.

What does that mean for elderly patients in Massachusetts between now and then? Well, things may not change in time for this Halloween — but the hospital experience could be a little fairer by the time we all say “trick or treat” next year.

More information on Admission vs. Observation Status in a Hospital Setting:

Medicare Booklet: //www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11435.pdf

Medicare Advocacy Group: Self Help Packets for Consumers //www.medicareadvocacy.org/take-action/self-help-packets-for-medicare-appeals/

Some Thoughts About The Purchase Of Long-Term Care Insurance

The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care. Contrary to what many people believe, Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care. Given the cost of such care, it makes sense to consider your options, in advance, about how to obtain the care you might very well need without exhausting your life savings to pay for it.

Dad at Diamond Ridge Healthcare Center (Novemb...

(Photo credit: cseeman)

One such option is long-term care insurance. I recently came across an article in the Los Angeles Times with valuable information about purchasing long-term care insurance that I would like to share with you. Here are the highlights.

Your age and health matter.
The younger you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the less expensive it will be. Unfortunately, if you have conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, your application might be rejected.

It is better to have some coverage than none at all.
The very best plans, such as those that adjust for inflation or cover the widest range of services, may be prohibitively expensive. Experts advise that policies with the option to add services in the future may be a better approach.

Know exactly what services are provided by your policy, and just as importantly, what services are not covered.

Take note of when the coverage begins.
Most policies have what is known as a waiting period. During the waiting period, you will have to pay for services on your own before the policy kicks in. As you would expect, the shorter the policy’s waiting period, the more expensive the policy will be.

Finally, if you buy your policy through an agent, ask him or her these three questions:

  • How long have you been selling long-term care insurance?
  • How many policies have you sold? Fewer than 100 is not enough.
  • How many insurers do you work with? The minimum should be three or four.

To learn more about long-term care insurance, I invite you to click here to read the entire article. I can also help you decide whether long-term care insurance is right for you. Simply call my office for a consultation.

Cost of Long Term Care (Genworth Survey 2014)