Whether you are 40, 50, 60, or any age above or below, long-term care planning is crucial in order to make for smooth sailing in your Golden Years. According to the Association for Long Term Care Planning, 70 percent of those age 65 and older will need some type of long-term care. Planning for long-term care will help you reduce the likelihood of needing it and also assist you financially should the need arise.
Preparing for Long-Term Care
Prep Your Body for Healthy Aging
You already know aging brings plenty of changes both physically and mentally, but this isn’t a fate you are doomed to. Taking care of yourself now can lessen the effects of aging on your mind and body, enabling you to better care for yourself independently as opposed to needing pricey long-term care. For example, diets full of sugar and carbs may taste good, but it puts you at risk for heart attack, diabetes, and obesity, which bring with them various other health complications. Even simple activities like getting enough sleep can improve memory and cognitive functioning.
Make Aging in Place a Priority
Living in your home as long as possible, referred to as aging in place, could reduce the chance that you need long-term care and save you money too. In a four-year research analysis of aging in place conducted by the University of Missouri, “Costs for living and health care never approached the costs for nursing homes and assisted-living services,” and many subjects had better physical and mental health. Once the woes of aging start making themselves known, look for ways to correct them. This could mean installing grab bars in the bathroom for better mobility, hiring help with the chores to avoid falls and injury, or using a life alert service for peace of mind.
Paying for Long-Term Care
Medicare and Long-Term Care
Most seniors age 65 and older have Medicare, but you may be surprised to learn that its ability to cover long-term care is extremely limited. Medicare will not pay for assisted living and adult day care, and will only offer short-term financial assistance for nursing home stays (full coverage for 20 days and 80 percent coverage for an additional 80 days.) However, this doesn’t mean Medicare isn’t extremely helpful. Medicare Advantage Plans help cover the costs of important health care services such as vision, hearing, dental, and prescription. Plans differ by state, so be sure to do your homework to find the coverage you need.
Consider a Reverse Mortgage
Your home is most likely your greatest asset, which means it can be helpful in securing funds to pay for long-term care. There are various types of reverse mortgages, but the safest route is a Home Equity Reverse Mortgage (HECM). It is insured by the government via the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and requires that you attend an information session with a loan counselor to ensure this is the safest and most logical route for you. An HECM loan also doesn’t have any restrictions, meaning you can use the payments you receive to pay for whatever you like such as long-term care, aging-in-place renovations, or medical expenses. Reverse mortgages are complex, and Consumers Advocate warns that it’s important for you to consider the pros and cons and shop around for the best and most trustworthy lender.
Look Into Long-Term Care Insurance
You don’t know what the future holds, but long-term care insurance can make sure you are prepared for whatever the future brings. If this is a route you are considering, it is best to purchase coverage now to get the best deal as opposed to when you are older or in poor health. You also need to consider your ability to pay premiums, and whether or not family member assistance and savings can reduce the amount of coverage you will need. Be sure to compare policies and read all the fine print, and consider seeking the advice of a financial advisor.
The need for long-term care can arrive gradually or suddenly, so are you prepared? Address your current and future needs now, as well as start assessing your financial ability to pay for long-term care. You can’t predict the future, but you can plan ahead.
This article is written by June Duncan. June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
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