Tips To Plan for Long-Term Care
Updated: May 10
Long-term care can be a costly endeavor, and you may not get a sufficient amount (or any) help from your current health coverage. Did you know that the average cost of a semi-private nursing home room is almost $250 per day? Meanwhile, a home health aide can cost almost $150 per day. Depending on how long you need long-term care, this can add up. You need to start planning for how you’ll pay for it all, especially if you are at a higher risk of eventually needing it. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Are You at a Higher Risk?
Whether the average American after the age of 65 will need long-term care basically comes down to a coin flip. According to Forbes, there’s about a 50% chance that you will end up needing it. However, when assessing the probability that you’ll need some form of long-term care at some point (nursing home, assisted living, in-home care, etc.), you must look at your own lifestyle and health history. This will not only help you determine whether you’ll need it, but also how long you’ll need it.
First, take a look at your current health. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as diabetes, intense arthritis, cancer, or some sort of cognitive illness like dementia, then the chances you’ll need long-term care at some point are higher. Next, take a look at your family history. What happened to your parents and grandparents after the age of 65? This can give you a window into what may happen to you later on in your life.
There are some things you can do right now to reduce your chances of needing long-term care or at least lessen the scale of it. You can get your diet under control and exercise daily. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight under control. Also, stop smoking and limit your alcohol use. See if you can make some minor home modifications that will allow you to stay there longer, even if you develop a mobility issue.
If you aren’t ready for assisted living yet, but you’re having trouble with some day-to-day tasks, there’s no shame in asking for a little help. For instance, paying for a housekeeper or a grocery delivery service is a reasonable expense. And when it comes to household maintenance, don’t be shy about seeking the help of professionals, rather than trying to crawl around with a wrench yourself. Simply search Angi for “best plumber near me” and compare ratings and reviews to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
How You’ll Pay for Long-Term Care
If you’re counting on Medicare to cover your long-term care costs, you’re in for a surprise. Medicare covers short-term, medically urgent care, but it does not cover long-term custodial care. Here are some funding avenues to explore:
● Downsize. Consider the current average home listing prices in your area and decide if selling your home and moving to a smaller, less-expensive house could be a way to help you cover the cost of long-term care. (Go here for a free guide on downsizing for retirement, courtesy of Retireguide.com.)
● Start saving now. You should look into a Health Savings Account, which can give you a way to save for long-term care while saving on taxes.
● Look for alternatives. Consider cheaper options like adult daycare. If you have children or other family members who can help with your care, you may not need to go all-in on nursing home care or an assisted living facility.
● Get some government assistance. Medicare isn’t going to help much with long-term care, but Medicaid will. Figure out if you qualify here. If you are a veteran, the VA can provide long-term care in its facilities, but it won’t pay for off-site nursing care.
● Long-term care insurance. This option is notorious for being a bit pricey on the premium side, but if you don’t have the savings and/or government help needed to pay for your care, it may be your best option. There are ways to save on this type of insurance, so do your homework.
While you should do everything you can to improve your health and modify your lifestyle to avoid needing long-term care in the future, the probability that you’ll still need it is high, especially if you have certain risk factors. The smartest thing to do is to begin planning for how you’ll pay as soon as possible. Talk to your family and develop a strategy; you don’t want this to sneak up on you.
Thanks to guest author, Hal Salazar, from Elders.today for the information in this post.