Long-Term Care Planning

A guest post from Carla Lopez

There’s a 70 percent chance you or someone you love will need long-term care after age 65. And there’s a 20 percent chance you’ll need it for more than five years. Long-term care (LTC) is a part of retirement that many seniors neglect to consider when planning for their financial future.

Long-term care can encompass both skilled medical care and non-medical services that support you with daily personal care. Also known as custodial care, services include eating, bathing, getting dressed, using the bathroom, and administering medication. They can also include other domestic activities, such as housekeeping, shopping, and errands.

LTC needs vary from person to person, depending on their medical conditions and living situation. Some opt to stay home and hire in-home care, while others need to move into a facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility. In either case, a patient can receive care from a non-medical caretaker for custodial needs or from a skilled nurse for medical support. It’s also important to check reviews for facilities to ensure you’re looking into the right place; SeniorCare, for example, can help you locate a highly rated nursing home in Brooklyn.

Should You Plan For LTC?

Any senior over 65 could need long-term care at some point in the future for a year or longer, so the answer is: Yes, you should expect to need it. Those with medical predispositions and hereditary conditions should definitely consider planning for it. You never know when an accident, illness, or injury could hit and leave you unable to care for yourself.

However, you can do your part to prevent those unfortunate circumstances by taking fewer risks in life, living a healthy lifestyle, and taking preventative measures for medical issues. Since many spills take place at home, modifications can reduce your risk of injury. Install handlebars and rails in the bathroom and on staircases. Convert your bathtub into a walk-in shower so you don’t have to step up. Remove rugs and widen walking spaces between furniture.

As you get older, it can become increasingly difficult to care for yourself. Without family members to provide that care, who will be there for your daily needs? This is why it’s important to consider hiring a caretaker to do the job, but it costs money that you might not have when the time comes.

How Do You Pay for LTC?

To afford long-term care, you may need to start early. Plan for your retirement while you’re young because it could take 40 years of savings to cover 20 years of retirement living. On top of that, long-term care takes up its own share of costs. Many Americans haven’t even considered the need for LTC, and those who have thought about it sometimes mistakenly assume that health insurance covers it. According to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the average lifetime cost of LTC is $138,000. The costs can range from $20 per hour for a home health aide to $97,000 per year for a nursing home.

Medicare covers medical care and hospitalizations for seniors. However, Medicare and private health insurance don’t cover typical long-term care needs. With private insurance, you can also receive Medicare benefits through Medicare Advantage Plans. MA Plans help cover healthcare expenses, such as dental, vision, and medications, so that you can free up other finances for LTC. Research the plans in your state to learn what Medicare Advantage plans are available to you. Online resources and diligent research can help you find the right coverage.

Few families have enough personal savings to shell out an extra six figures for long-term care. There are other ways to pay for LTC: Social Security, pension, withdrawing from an IRA, selling your life insurance benefits, reverse mortgages, low-income assistance with Medicaid, adding a rider to your life insurance, and getting LTC insurance.

Without a plan and a way to pay for LTC, you and your family could end up like the many Americans today who are paying for care out-of-pocket and depleting their savings. Anytime after age 50 is a good time to start contributing toward your future long-term care. But the sooner, the better. The closer you are to retirement, the more imperative it is to consider how you’ll pay for it. The earlier your start, the lower your premiums will be.


Next Steps

If you'd like to get the process of long-term care planning started, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session to discuss the best options for you and your family.

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