Long-Term Care Planning Considerations
Ideally, we’d never need to think about how we will be cared for in our old age. Most of us, however, will need some care in our old age. Since few of us can navigate late senior years alone, it is crucial to incorporate long-term care into life plans and goals. Doing so requires planning and anticipating the future while also preparing and securing oneself financially.
Part I: Long-Term Care Planning
There are a few planning basics to think about if you might need long-term care in the future. Family health history can be a barometer of your longevity and needs. Think about how long your parents lived and what conditions or illnesses they may have had. Hereditary health concerns such as heart disease, cancer, and other ailments may be easier to treat when they are anticipated. If you come from a long line of family that lived to a ripe age with few health concerns, your LTC need may be less. If you know the disease is prevalent in your family, you may want to consider steps you can take today to plan for the expense of long-term care or reduce your need through lifestyle choices.
Adjusting Your Lifestyle
If your family health history reveals so-called “lifestyle diseases” such as certain cancers, diabetes, health disease, or obesity, you may be able to control your long-term care destiny. No matter your age, you always have the opportunity to improve some portion of your overall health. You can start a healthy diet, quit smoking, or address your health risks.
These steps cannot guarantee that you won’t need long-term care, but they can reduce the chances and will unquestionably result in improved health. Long-term care need is not solely determined by physical health. Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is a frequent and devastating reason why some seniors cannot age in place. While the risks of Alzheimer’s are less clear, there are ways to reduce the risk of dementia. Learn a new language, read often, and play brain-quiz games to keep your mind as sharp as possible.
Careful planning always prepares for the worst, so consider speaking with your family and loved ones about your desires. It may be possible to age in place, with visiting aid and attendance at home. If you do not want to prolong cost or pain in your life, you may want to opt out of some treatments, such as chemotherapy in the case of cancer.
Part II: Financial Aspects of Long-Term Care
Long-term care is expensive. A private nursing home room can cost upwards of $90,000 a year. This is an unaffordable figure for many, but the other options are costly as well. Home health care aides may seem more affordable but can easily reach the same cost of nursing home care depending on how much attention you may need. The cost of an assisted living facility is less than a nursing home at an average of $3,500 a month, but it is still a steep figure for many and provides much less care. Other potential senior service options include adult daycare and in-home caregivers.
You should tailor your savings to your desired care in your senior years. Although Medicaid may cover skilled nursing home care, this program is based on financial need, so you can be out of luck if you have some money but not enough to finance prolonged private care.
LTC Insurance and Other Types of Funding
Long-term-care or LTC insurance is another financing option. While these policies are not for everyone, they can provide some security that your needs will be met in old age. If you never need the policy’s benefits, the premiums would be spent for naught, unlike some life insurance policies where portions of premiums accumulate into a cash value. If you were to invest the premium amounts on your own, you’d also have an asset to use for other purposes. The premiums on many of these policies increase and benefits decrease the older you get.
Nobody likes to think about end-of-life arrangements, but it’s something everyone has to consider. With careful planning and saving, you can live comfortably in your golden years.
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