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Sec Elder Affairs

Posted by: Secretary of Elder Affairs Ann L. Hartstein

Many of us grew up with the conventional wisdom that we need to think about the future and are familiar with the Aesop’s Fable about the ant and the grasshopper.  As the fable goes, the industrious ant spent the summer carefully storing provisions for winter, while the more carefree grasshopper ignored the bounty of the peak growing season, and chose to spend the summer idling instead.  When winter came, the ant was dining on corn he had stored, while the grasshopper paid the price for not thinking ahead.  Aesop got it right:  planning and saving early in life when you have the resources will give you better options later on.

 

If you are in your prime earning years, trying to save for your children’s college education while meeting current household expenses may mean delaying long-range planning.  You may not even be thinking about long-range planning.  If so,  “Embrace Your Future,” an, innovative long-term care initiative from the Patrick-Murray Administration encourages earlier planning for long-term care supports that may help in later life.  Massachusetts is one of 25 states promoting “Embrace Your Future,” a national initiative dedicated to helping individuals 45 and over to plan for their futures. As part of this initiative, the Office of Elder Affairs has sent to 400,000 homes a free 44-page guide for consumers that offer long-term care planning information tailored specifically to Massachusetts residents.

 


Most of us, whether we are seniors or have parents and relatives who are seniors, know how stressful it is to try to provide the at-home assistance that may be required later in life.  Since 80 percent of all seniors live with one or more chronic disease and 70 percent require assistance and support, it’s easy to see that individuals needing assistance often rely on help from others in order to stay in their homes, rather than move to a nursing or retirement facility.  Unfortunately, family members and friends aren’t always available or able to provide that help.  And, for the most part, Medicare and Medicaid don’t pay for these services until you have “spent down” your assets.  In fact, in the spirited national debate about health care reform, both proponents and opponents predicted shortfalls in both accounts as well as in Social Security. 

 

Both local and national media outlets report that in the current economic situation, savings accounts are dwindling, as are personal investments and pension funds.  Today’s seniors are facing challenges that will be even more daunting for the rapidly growing ranks of aging baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964.  At the end of this decade, about a quarter of Massachusetts residents will be age 60 or over.

 

In addition to the “Embrace Your Future” guide, with Governor Patrick’s support , the Office of Elder Affairs has been promoting “Embrace Your Future” throughout the Commonwealth on multiple platforms, including the cable access program, ”Senior Scene”; at regional shopping malls; at commuter train stations and in conjunction with businesses and libraries.  We’re committed to reaching as many people as possible to let them know about the guide, and to start planning now.

 

The “Embrace Your Future” guide includes planning strategies for long-term care health insurance and other options, as well as planning resources available to Massachusetts residents, and a planning checklist.  The guide explains what Medicare and Medicaid do and do not pay for—and community-based support systems that are available to seniors.  There is also information for people who are already seniors looking for assistance with long term care planning.

 

Visit www.longtermcare.gov/campaign/ma for more information on the “Embrace Your Future” campaign and tips on long-term planning.

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Communications Office

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