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Do I need long-term care planning?

Savvy Colorado residents prepare ahead of time for their future with financial estate planning, but another important aspect often gets overlooked -- long-term care.

What is long-term care?

Long-term care encompasses many services and assistance required by those with disabilities, chronic illnesses and those experiencing the sometimes debilitating effects of the aging process.

What does long-term care include?

It varies greatly with the individual and his or her physical and mental capabilities, but may include:

-- Medical care by nurses, physical and occupational therapists and other health care professionals.

-- Home modifications to enhance mobility, comfort and safety.

-- Assistance with Activities of Daily Living, such as help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation and housekeeping chores.

-- Technological assistance to help to maintain independence as long as possible.

Will I need long-term care until I die?

Not necessarily. Long-term care could be needed for several months after recovering from an accident or for years while battling cancer. Once recovered, you can resume your normal life to the best of your ability. Others may need a lifetime of long-term care.

Where can I receive long-term care?

Many Colorado residents can remain in their homes while receiving long-term care. Friends and family can often initially provide the needed supports. Both private and public organizations offer services that may include meals delivered to your home, home health care and supervised day programs.

Others make the decision to move into special retirement communities that offer residents services like housekeeping, maintenance and communal dining areas. Often these communities allow residents to transition to assisted living when they begin needing help with personal care and medication assistance.

Nursing homes are one form of long-term care for those whose health needs require 24-hour skilled nursing care.

It's wise to look into long-term care planning options while you are still in good health so that you can make the best choice possible. An estate planning attorney is a good source of information on this matter.

Source: AARP, "Planning for Long-Term Care" Aug. 27, 2014

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