We go from childhood into our adult years trying to learn to be independent, self-reliant and responsible. With age, we learn to care for and provide for those who depend on us.
As we step into old age, our levels of independence are put to the test. Diminished faculties, a general slowing of pace and health ailments are typical age-related problems, underscoring the need for assistance, attention and, most importantly, a solid plan for health care.
What is eldercare?
A range of care options constitutes eldercare. Depending on the needs of the elderly and the dynamics of your family and its lifestyle, you may need to choose from options including hospices, home care, adult day-care, nursing care and assisted living. All these options are becoming increasingly common today and offer a high degree of positivity, and a great support system for those who avail it.
You need to explore eldercare options if you notice trouble with performing routine activities and an inability for self-care. The development of disabilities and diseases are other signs that would indicate that eldercare is the way forward for senior family members.
Depending on your availability, the ability to provide increased care and the geriatric health of the elder concerned, you may consider the nature of care required and the eldercare plan to opt for. The main objective of the plan chosen is to allow a life of independence and dignity for the elderly.
Things to keep in mind while opting for eldercare plans
When considering or comparing health care options for the elderly, here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Premium: The premiums payable for any medical policies for the elderly are bound to be higher. While this may be a given across all providers, it is important to consider the benefits covered. Some policies may extend a cover for day-care and pre-hospitalization, and these are the kind of plans you should be looking at.
- Coverage: While most policies would cover hospitalization expenses, there may be some caps on doctors’ fees and other incidentals. Understand the care plan well, so that you can ensure maximum coverage while your family member is an in-patient. Do remember that the elderly tend to have longer recovery periods and may require more time in the hospital. That’s all the more reason why you should consider this aspect carefully.
- Post-hospitalization: Expenses and care are not limited to hospital stays alone. Sometimes, post-hospitalization expenses can amount to as much, if not more. There are standard eligibility criteria for reimbursement of post-hospitalization expenses which vary from one provider to another. While the general trend has seen post-hospitalization cover reduce across the board, it is beneficial to compare plans and understand where you would be best covered.
- Day-care plans: In many situations, the elderly may need to be admitted to a hospital for the day to receive care. This may include dialysis, cataract care and chemotherapy. While day-care covers are included in most plans, you may find a limit on the number of days covered. This is something you need to be particularly careful about as some plans may offer as few as 10 days annually.
- Existing ailments: Not all care plans cover existing health ailments or have a co-payment clause around them. Check carefully for exclusions, co-payments and waiting periods to understand which plan really works in your favour.
- Benefit: Often, our preference tends to gravitate towards a care plan that requires the lowest premium payment. While this is an important feature, it is more important to ascertain the benefits provided at the lowest cost. Also, look for providers who give you the option of making monthly payments, so that the amount is less and staggered.
There are a host of factors to be considered when looking for the perfect eldercare plan. A focus on the pointers outlined above should help steer you in the right direction. When looking for any plan, keep in mind your own finances and personal situation and the health condition of the elderly member concerned.