The Best Advice for Creating a Safety Net to Meet Long-Term Care Needs


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When considering the future, most of us prefer not to envision ourselves in a nursing home or relying on a health aide for managing menial tasks. However, statistics show most older Americans need long-term care at some point down the road. So the likelihood that you will need care -- or that you will need to provide care for a loved one -- is high.

As a caretaker, I know from experience that long-term care requires more time, energy, and resources than anyone can predict. It fills your heart and empties your body. It leaves you exhilarated and exhausted. In my opinion, there is no greater or more rewarding work. Like mine and my loved one’s, your journey will be completely unique. No matter what ups, downs, and in-betweens your long-term care experience will hold, there are things you can do to prepare.

Long-Term Care: Paying for Expenses

Understanding the Costs

Long-term care is quite costly. In fact, in 2017, the annual median cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home facility hit $85,775, and for a private room, it jumped almost $100,000. Many people expect Medicare to cover those expenses, but as LovetoKnow explains, you must meet certain requirements for coverage, and then it’s limited. So, it’s vital to come up with ways to pay for long-term care. In order to make educated decisions, consider these issues:

Retirement age. The sooner you plan to retire, the more focused you need to be on setting aside funding for long-term care.

Insurance and savings. Do you currently have savings or insurance in place to pay for long-term care? Here are a few ideas:

  • Home sale. Some people sell their homes to pay for long-term care. Learn about housing prices in your area if you’re considering this option. For example, Overland Park homes had an average selling price of $350,000, last month.

  • Long-term care insurance. As the AARP explains, these policies are designed especially for long-term care needs. However, long-term care insurance policy premiums can be high, especially if you wait until your senior years to invest.

  • Short-term care insurance. Short-term care insurance policies can help with long-term care expenses and are reasonably easy to get due to the underwriting, although they typically provide coverage for a year or less.

  • Whole life insurance. There are newer versions of whole life insurance that allow you to dip into the death benefit to pay for medical or health-related expenses.

Your payment plan. There are other options available for covering long-term care expenses as well. For instance, Forbes points out that veterans are eligible for long-term care through the Veterans Administration. Or, you might have substantial retirement savings you could pull or assets you could sell. Weigh your options and ask yourself how you will pay the expenses should a need for long-term care occur.

Long-Term Care: Evaluation and Planning

Evaluating how likely it is that you or someone you love will need long-term care can provide insights into improving your future quality of life. Think about these issues:

  • Do you embrace a healthy lifestyle, or do you make decisions that put you at risk? Choices can often put you at higher risk for needing long-term care. For instance, using tobacco products increases your risk for many health concerns, and certain hobbies are more hazardous than others, like rock climbing, hot air ballooning, and scuba diving.

  • What could you do to lower your risk for health issues or serious injuries? It might be time to give up an indulgence or embrace an overall healthier lifestyle.

  • Should you make home modifications to ensure your independence in your golden years? Designs focusing on aging in place can be beneficial to senior safety. Some modifications are simple but effective, such as installing smooth flooring and adding grab bars and raised toilets to bathrooms.

  • What health issues run in your family? Be aware of your family history and ensure you guard against potential concerns.

Staying At Home

When you ultimately choose to stay at home, one way you can remain there longer is to hire a caregiver. A personal caregiver can provide in-home assistance with everything from household chores to hygiene. You can choose to have someone come in for just a few hours a few days each week or have a rotating shift of helpers around the clock.

Formulating a plan to navigate long-term care is vital in light of the potential expense. Consider your situation carefully. Make preparations so long-term care doesn’t catch you off guard.

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