Aging is an inevitable reality for everyone. As part of this, many adults engage in long-term planning in anticipation of their later years. But, for many in the LGBTQ+ community, there is anxiety and trepidation over long-term planning.
This is because older people in this community worry about being the subject of discrimination or inadequate care should they need to enter a nursing home or elder care community. As a result, many do not plan or feel paralyzed when planning.
What Is Long-Term Care Planning?
Long-term care planning means putting together a course of action should you need assistance with your activities of daily living in the future, whether due to age, illness, or other reasons. For some people, this will involve entering a nursing home or assisted living community. For others, it will mean receiving help with health and personal care needs from the comfort of their own home.
Many of the programs and services that help people remain in their homes and communities are provided through Medicare and Medicaid. Long-term care services can also be provided through private insurance.
Unique Long-Term Care Planning Challenges for the LGBTQ+ Community
Older people in the LGBTQ+ community are often concerned about what will happen if they need care from nonfamily members. Concerns may include whether they can be open about their sexual orientation or gender and still receive the care they need. For many, these concerns can lead them to feel that they must hide their identity, creating anxiety and alienation.
What can a person do now to address these issues? First, if it is possible to obtain long-term care insurance, you should consider doing so. One of the benefits of private insurance is that it opens up many options that may not be available to a person who solely relies on Medicare (usually Part C) and Medicaid.
For example, if you are able to stay at home with the assistance of a health aide, your long-term care insurance may also cover things like assistance with:
- Meal preparation
- Care for your pet
In addition, long-term care insurance may also cover a broader range of facilities that can give a person more options in choosing a place where they feel comfortable should they have to leave their home. Many long-term care insurances will pay for assisted living communities, adult day cares, memory care communities, and more. Medicare and Medicaid will not necessarily provide equivalent coverage.
Another consideration many LGBTQ+ people face is not having the same support system as others to assist them as they age. For example, many LGBTQ+ seniors do not have adult children, as adoption and fertility options were not as available in the past as they are today.
Understanding this and being prepared by connecting with communities or organizations that assist LGBTQ+ persons is essential in engaging in long-term care planning. These organizations and resources are growing every year. Some currently existing organizations include:
- National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging
- LGBTQ Caregiver Center
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
These organizations provide a wealth of information to help individuals understand issues they may face, their rights, and how to plan for their future. In addition, they can help you connect with an advocate to advise you, should the need arise. There is no better time than the present to build your support system and connect with others who are similarly inclined or situated.
Get Your Advance Health Care Directives in Order
Another critical consideration in long-term care planning is getting your advance health care directive in order. An advance health care directive is a person’s instructions set out in advance regarding their health care wishes and who may assist with health care decisions on their behalf. These are often referred to (depending on your state) as health care powers of attorney, durable powers of medical attorney, health care proxies, or living wills.
You can implement advance health care directives now so that your wishes regarding your medical care can be honored in the future. In addition, these directives allow you to designate a trusted person or persons to make these decisions if you become incapacitated. For many, this may help alleviate anxieties about potential mistreatment or issues with the management of their care in the future.
Consult With an Elder Law Attorney
Finally, consider connecting with an elder law attorney in your area. An elder law attorney can advise you about additional services or planning that are appropriate to address your concerns. They can also help you accomplish your long-term care planning goals.