Memory Testing: How to Qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance


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What is long-term care insurance and what does it cover?

Long-term care insurance covers some medical and nonmedical care for individuals with a disability or chronic condition.[01] Most long-term care insurance policies cover a variety of care services:

  • Help with activities of daily living, like bathing, eating, and moving about
  • Hospice care
  • Respite care
  • Homemaker services, like cooking and daily errands

Policyholders can receive long-term care in multiple settings, depending on the policy:[02]

  • A senior’s home
  • Residential care facilities
  • Alzheimer’s care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Adult day centers

Long-term care policies can also vary in terms of longevity. A typical policy covers a certain number of hours of care per day, for a certain number of days. This is determined when the policy is purchased.


Eligibility requirements for long-term care insurance

There’s no age requirement for purchasing a long-term care insurance policy. Some insurance companies recommend purchasing as young as 40. Generally, 55-60 is a good age range to apply.

Unlike medical insurance, long-term care insurance can deny eligibility based on some existing chronic health conditions:[03]

Check with your loved one’s potential provider for additional conditions, as there may be others that affect eligibility.


Health screening for long-term care insurance eligibility

Before offering someone a policy, insurance companies perform a health screening to determine eligibility.[04] They’ll first request medical records from the applicant’s health care provider to quantify any preexisting conditions and account for any medications they’re being prescribed.

During the health screening, the insurance provider will most likely assess whether the applicant is already in need of long-term care, which could disqualify them from coverage.

Other long-term care insurance disqualifiers may include:[03]

  • Inability to perform activities of daily living — such as bathing, grooming, and dressing — without help
  • Inability to drive, grocery shop, or manage finances
  • Prolonged use of an oxygen tank
  • Prolonged use of a walker or wheelchair
  • Incontinence
  • Receiving disability benefits

To speed up the health screening process, be sure to coordinate with your loved one’s doctor so they know to expect a medical records request.

After the initial health screening, if your loved one is 70 or older, or their medical records indicate cognitive impairment, they’ll most likely go through a memory assessment test.

Memory testing for long-term care insurance

Much like in any type of insurance coverage, the provider assesses the risk the policyholder poses to help them determine premium prices and coverage eligibility. With long-term care insurance, providers assess how likely someone is to need long-term care, whether they’ll require significant coverage, and how soon they’ll need it. A common way to assess risk is through cognitive testing or memory testing.

The purpose of memory testing is to ensure that prospective policyholders don’t have cognitive impairment beyond natural age-related memory loss. Significant memory loss is not considered a “normal” part of aging. The test helps policy providers identify problem areas with the following:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Learning
  • Decision-making


What to expect from a memory test

The main portion of the test is usually word recall. The test subject will be asked to use about 10 specific words in different sentences. After a 5-10 minute delay, the person will be asked to recall as many of the words as they can. To pass this portion of the test, they’ll most likely need to recall at least six of the test words.[05]

The words are carefully selected to require cognitive functioning without relying on other memory tricks. For example, the words won’t share a lot of sounds, either in rhyme or alliteration. They’re also not easy to categorize with each other (such as “cat,” “dog,” etc.), so your loved one will have to rely on memory.

The test may involve other components apart from delayed word recall. Another popular exercise is to have the test-taker draw a clock showing a particular time. This activity requires planning, spatial awareness, and decision-making.

The memory test can be done over the phone as part of your loved one’s overall health screening, or it may be scheduled ahead for another time. Completing the memory test remotely or in person depends on the company and the practicality of doing it in person.


Help your loved one prepare for memory testing

To help your loved one qualify for long-term care insurance, help them prepare before their scheduled screening or memory test date. If they’re not anticipating a memory test, your loved one may be caught off guard by the assessment questions. Knowing what to expect will help them do well when it’s time to take the test.

Here are a few practical tips on how to help your loved one prepare for memory testing:

  • While it won’t be exact, you can look online for a sample memory test for long-term care insurance. Going through the questions and activities with your loved one will help them feel more prepared. Practicing problem-solving and recall techniques can help them remain calm and think quickly on their feet during the actual test.
  • Encourage your loved one to practice creating sentences with select words. Getting a bit creative and personal with exercises can help with recalling. For example, suppose the word from the list is “dog.” Help your loved one ground their sentence in a detail that’s personal and unique to them. This could include talking about a childhood pet dog they may have had. The more personal their example sentences, the more likely they’ll be able to recall the individual words.
  • Play some memory games in the days leading up to the test. A matching game or other activity that exercises memory can help your loved one stay fresh. You may also want to have them practice drawing a clock. Make a sample clock using a paper plate and some cut-out arrows attached to the center with a brass tack. Then, ask your loved one to set it to specific times.
  • Make sure your loved one can take the test in a place without distractions. Turn off the television, radio, and cell phone. Make sure they’ve eaten well and have a glass of water within reach.
  • Know that you can advocate for your loved one’s needs. If your loved one didn’t get much sleep or isn’t feeling well, you can request that your insurance provider reschedule. If they fail the test, request further testing by your loved one’s primary doctor.

The qualifications for long-term care insurance may vary depending on the company and the individual policy. Feel free to ask questions or look on your insurance provider’s website to find out how you can best prepare your loved one for their eligibility assessment.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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