Long-Term Care: The Time to Plan is Now to Ensure Needs Are Met Later

For many Americans, long-term care can be somewhat out of sight, out of mind.  Most people don’t worry about it until they need it.  However, chances are good you could require long-term care, and it’s an expensive proposition.  Should the need arise, how will you pay for it?

Anticipate needs

Flip a coin.  If you are young and healthy, you probably aren’t giving much thought to long-term care.  However the sooner you begin planning, the better.  According to Investment News about half of Americans turning 65 today will need long-term care eventually.  With that in mind, think through the following concerns to assess the potential you or a loved one will need long-term care.

Lifestyle choices.  Do you participate in recreational activities that could increase your risk for injury or the onset of illness?  For example, do you use tobacco products?  Most people recognize tobacco use puts them at higher risk for several cancers.  According to American Lung Association, tobacco use can also increase the chance you will go blind, puts you at higher risk for diabetes and increases the chance you will develop rheumatoid arthritis.  Along those same lines, some hobbies increase your risk for serious injury.  For instance, boating, hunting and motorcycle riding are considered high-risk hobbies.

Home modifications.  Aging takes a toll on all of us, and some of the effects of aging can reduce mobility, turning homes into danger zones.  Many Americans are turning to universal design concepts to help them age in place.  Are there home modifications you should consider to ensure independence and safety through your golden years?

Family tendencies.  Are there certain conditions or hereditary illnesses that run in your family?  Heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes are examples of conditions that tend to be hereditary.  Be aware of your family history.  You cannot alter genetics, but you can take steps to avoid increasing risk for medical conditions.

Anticipate costs

Care is expensive.  Unless you are quite wealthy, long-term care is not generally an out-of-pocket expenditure.  In 2017, a private room in a nursing home cost approximately $8,100 per month.  Care in an assisted living facility cost approximately $3,750 a month.  Without a plan to cover the expenses, long-term care can be financially devastating.  Consider these questions to help decide a course of action:

Retirement.  How long until you plan to retire?  If you are currently employed you might be able to up insurance or investment options through your employer with the mindset of being able to apply them to long-term care down the road.  However, the closer you are to retirement, the more aggressively you need to save.

Paying for need.  Do you have a plan already in place to cover long-term care costs?  Veterans and their surviving spouses can qualify for long-term care benefits through the Veterans Administration.  Selling a life insurance policy can provide cash for medical care and daily living expenses.  Or, assets can be sold to cover expenses as well, such as second homes, boats, or extra vehicles.

Insurance and savings.  What insurance or savings opportunities are currently available if you need help paying for long-term care?  Consider these options:

  • Humana Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as Medicare (Parts A and B).  Several plans are available with some Humana Medicare Advantage plans offering assistance with prescriptions, dental, vision and fitness services.  Caregiver support and a 24/7 nursing advice line are also available.  Keep in mind Humana offers affordable plans to fit your specific needs and budget.
  • Long-term care insurance is a common option.  Policies are oriented toward covering long-term care expenses.  You are best off purchasing a policy while young, since premiums rise with age.
  • Do you have a health savings account (HSA)?  You can use it to pay for approved medical expenses.
  • Life insurance and long-term care combination policies are also available.  With these, you basically start withdrawing the death benefit while you’re still alive in order to pay for care.

 

Even if long-term care seems a distant concern, you should start planning now.  Paying for care is not a light undertaking.  With a solid plan in place you can be confident of meeting future needs.

Author

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.