Thursday, January 20, 2011
Factors to consider when thinking about long term care insurance

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One of the questions that people ask as they age is whether they should purchase long term care insurance. The definitive answer is maybe. Long term care insurance is a way to cover the costs of being in a long term care facility. The factors that go into admission to such a facility are many. The first set of factors is related to family. Some families live with their elderly loved ones which makes it easy for them to provide the assistance they need. Other family members live near their loved ones which makes it convenient for them to help out with the every day needs. Other families live farther away, making assistance impractical. With other families, it is more of an inability to help with care needs. The second set of factors is related to medical status. Some people remain relatively healthy as they get older. They have a family history of doing well over time. These individuals might not need assistance with their care. Other families have a history of long life which makes it more likely that they will need long term care as they age. Some individuals have a lot of medical issues. These issues might be so significant that their family could not care for them even if they wanted to. The third set of factors is financial in nature. People with very few resources could quickly qualify for Medicaid to pay for their care. People who are well to do, could afford to pay for long term care on their own. People who have a nest egg somewhere in between would have to spend it all on long term care before they qualified for Medicaid. Long term care insurance is like any other insurance policy. It is great to have if you need it but it is an unnecessary expense if you don't. Long term care insurance costs have been in the news recently because the costs are going up significantly. Long term care insurance is relatively new compared to other types of insurance. For that reason, the calculated costs were based on estimated risks. Now that we have actual risks to compare it to, we realize that the estimations were too low. For that reason, long term care insurance costs are rising rapidly. This rise in cost adds to the complexity of the decision. There are some general guidelines to follow in deciding whether or not to purchase long term care insurance. The first one is financial. If you have no savings and would quickly qualify for Medicaid, you do not need long term care insurance. If you are well off and can afford the costs of an extended care facility, you do not need long term care insurance. Those costs are currently $40,000 to $50,000 per year. You would need enough investments to generate that kind of income. That means you would need to have saved about $1,000,000. Of course there is income from Social Security to offset the costs a little. However, this should give you a ballpark figure about needed savings. Those individuals with total savings less than that need to consider long term care insurance. Then they need to look at the family factors. They also need to look at the family health history and their own personal health history. Once they have looked at all of these factors, they should then consider purchasing long term care insurance. Another thing to consider is how much of a payout you want. You might elect to cover the entire costs of long term care which would make for the highest premium. You might want to save some money by covering only some of the costs. You might also want to consider how long a period you want to cover. The average individual in long term care stays for a little over two years. While there are some people who spend years in long term care, they are the exception. Getting a policy that only covers 24 or 36 months will also cost less. The younger you are when you sign up, the lower the premium. This also needs to be a consideration. Thus, if you have a moderate sized nest egg and you have health issues and you have family that can't support you, you are a good candidate for long term care insurance. You should consider a policy that offers partial payment and covers a period of 2 to 3 years. You should also sign up early to get a cheaper rate. One other factor to consider is technology. As we have an increasingly aging population, there will be new developments that will help. For example, patients with dementia like Alzheimer's Disease will be able to purchase devices to serve as reminders of things they have to do. This would delay their need to have someone do simple things such as administer their medication. There is already a device that has a series of drawers. At medication time, an alarm goes off and the drawer opens with the drugs the patient is to take at that time. More of this will come in the future. However, for many people the decision to purchase long term care insurance is a more immediate one.

Program seeks volunteers ContactLifeline has volunteer opportunities available with the Rape Crisis program. Training classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 25, every Tuesday and Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m. Individuals interested in helping victims of sexual assault can call Josie MacLaine at 422-1154, ext. 1011 or visit

Diabetes education course Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on Feb. 1, 8, 15 & 22, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the hospital. Registration is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and obtain additional information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Relay for Life Kick-Off Party The Relay for Life of West Sussex will hold a 2011 Kick Off party, a luau, at the Seaford High School cafeteria on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., to kick off another Relay season. The party is open to the community and all are invited to attend. Pizza and sodas will be available for dinner. Come hear cancer survivor Barbara Nissley's brave story. There is no cost to attend and this is not a fundraising event. This party is being held to inform the community and increase participation in the night-long Relay for Life event usually held during the first weekend of June at Soroptimist Park in Seaford. Relay for Life is a chance to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and fight back by making personal commitments to taking action and saving lives.

NMH Pharmacy honored In December, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Pharmacy was recognized as the Complete Rx "OutstandingPharmacy of the Year" at theComplete Rx annual awards dinner. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and Complete Rx partner to provide high quality care while reducing overall costs. This past year, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Pharmacy department focused on the impact that pharmacists have in patient care and updated department processes and procedures. Some of the department's achievements include participating in scheduled patient care rounds, enhancing control of medication inventory and implementing new procedures to further improve the care of the hospital's oncology patients.

The department convertedto a stock card ordering system, to keepdrug inventory costs down. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's pharmacists play a key role in patient care, ensuring that medications are safe and effective.

Caregiver training rescheduled The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series several times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford will host a training session on Tuesday, Feb. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This session was previously scheduled for Jan. 19 and had to be rescheduled due to several conflicts. The training session includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by LifeCare. Pre-registration is required by Feb. 16. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 854-9788 or 1-800-272-3900.

Cancer Support Group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a General Cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The monthly support group meets in the first floor resource library of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month. For the winter months the group will meet from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The next meeting takes place on Jan. 24 at 3:30 p.m., due to the Martin Luther King holiday. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. Call 645-9150 for information or to register for this program. All support groups offered at The Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. For more information about The Wellness Community, visit

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 15, 1:30 p.m., at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Rehabilitation Center, 300 Health Services Dr., Seaford. The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. The two-hour support group meetings consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors meet in groups to discuss concerns, provide support and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child or infant who is choking. This classroom-based, video and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friendsand community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $30. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations (if seating is available) will be an additional $5 fee. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Heart and Stroke Gala The 2011 Southern Delaware Heart and Stroke Gala, "An Evening in Oz," will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the Sheraton Dover Hotel. The annual event benefits the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Volunteers are actively planning the gala. Volunteers work on committees, including sponsorship, publicity, auction, hospitality, multimedia, website, entertainment, casino, photography and decorating. To find out more about sponsorship or to volunteer, contact Karen Gritton, special events director at or 286-5705. You may also contact the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Delaware office toll free at 877-750-4276.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program.The location rotates each week of the month according to the following schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rt. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro.
"New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about the journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.