Planning for the Possibility and Costs of Long-Term Care
Planning for the Possibility and Costs of Long-Term Care – Most people hope that they won’t require long-term care as they age, but sometimes, it’s necessary. This type of care includes services and support to meet personal care needs and activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating. Other long-term care services include housework, money management, meal prep and clean-up, clothing shopping, and medication management.
Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care
There’s no definitive way to know whether you’ll need long-term care or not, but some factors do increase the risk that you might require it. The risk goes up as you age, and women are considered a higher risk than men for needing care because women tend to live longer. Single people tend to depend more on paid providers, too.
Health and family history can also impact risk levels. If certain illnesses, like arthritis or heart disease, or neurological disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, run in the family, you may also need future assistance. Since poor diet and exercise habits can also increase your risk, make sure you’re eating well and staying active. These lifestyle choices may, in fact, have the biggest positive impact on your overall physical and mental health.
If you’re hoping to age in place, take steps now to reduce the risk of injury—a broken hip from a fall, for example—within your house. Remove some furniture, and swap out deep-pile rugs for carpets with a shorter nap or bare, non-slip floors. Add railings on both sides of staircases and grab bars in the bathroom and your bedroom.
Paying for Long-Term Care
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone celebrating his 65th birthday this year might spend an average of $138,000 in long-term care. Since one in five seniors may require at least some long-term care, it makes sense to start planning for the possibility well before you hit retirement age.
When You’re Still Working
If you’re in your 50s, look into the policies offered by your job. Take advantage of a health savings account (HSA) or other savings programs that might help cover the cost of long-term care.
Medicare will cover many different types of medical care, but it does not pay for daily living tasks, like eating, self-care, household chores, or money management. Medicaid only covers long-term care if you meet low-income and individual state eligibility requirements.
Shop around for a long-term insurance policy. Their costs vary dramatically, but the sooner you purchase the policy, the less it costs. Most experts recommend buying this policy in your late 40s or early 50s for the best annual premium. You can replace term life insurance with long-term care if the policy is about to expire and you don’t have dependents living at home. If you carry a whole term life insurance policy, see whether it has a rider to defray the cost of long-term care, too.
After You’ve Retired
If you’re a veteran and you’ve served during a qualifying period of conflict, you may qualify to receive the Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit, which will help pay for long-term care. If you own your home, selling it and using those funds to cover the cost of long-term care may be another viable option, depending on the current average home listing prices in your area. For example, homes in Sacramento, CA, sold for an average of $328,000 within the last month.
Another option is to use your personal savings. The US Department of Health and Human Services indicates that most people need fewer than two years of long-term care. The department suggests that $70,000 in savings could potentially be enough to meet average costs. You can use Social Security and your pension to help cover costs, too.
It makes good financial sense to plan for the possibility that you or your partner might just need some help in the future. Taking the steps now to consider the options of how to pay for that care will go a long way to reduce the stress should the future become now.
Watch YouTube Video: The Costs of Long-Term Care Planning. This video takes a look at the costs of the long-term care and how you can start planning early to prepare for your future.
June Duncan is the co-creator of the website, Rise Up for Caregivers, which provides guidance for family and friends who have taken up the task of being a caregiver for loved ones who can no longer take care of themselves. She also authors the impending guide, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
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