We plan for retirement by saving diligently, yet many of us avoid thinking about long-term care needs. After all, it’s much more pleasant to focus our time and money on the things we want to do in retirement, rather than thinking about long-term care. However, according to Harvard Health Publishing, two out of three people who reach age 65 will end up needing some form of long-term care for up to three years. You can’t predict the future, but you can start planning now to anticipate long-term care needs and how to cover the costs.
How Can You Plan for Long-Term Care?
Whether you’re concerned for yourself or a loved one, it helps to ask yourself a few questions to assess the likelihood of needing long-term care.
Could you make lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of disability or injury?
There are different types of long-term care from home health aide to nursing facilities, and long-term care includes more than just medical care. It can also include needing assistance with everyday living as a result of injury or serious illness. You can never know for sure what health problems may arise later in life, but we do know that lifestyle can make a difference.
According to Science Daily, research has shown that living a healthy lifestyle may decrease the duration that older adults need care due to disability at the end of their life. Eating a healthier diet and walking greater distances were associated with fewer years in long-term care, while obesity was associated with a longer duration of long-term care needs.
Could you make home modifications that allow you to age in place?
Some people prefer to stay in their own home, even if they need round-the-clock care. It’s important to start thinking about where you want to receive care because your choice can impact the costs. If you plan on staying at home, you may also need to make some modifications so that it’s safe and accessible. The remodeling costs of home modifications should also factor into your financial planning.
Do you have a family history of hereditary illness?
While lifestyle can play a big role in health as you age, it’s also important to be aware of your family’s health history. Illnesses including heart disease and stroke, along with conditions like Alzheimer’s that affect cognitive function, have a strong hereditary link that may increase the likelihood that you need long-term care.
How Can You Plan on Paying for Long-Term Care?
Regardless of your personal risk, everyone should have a plan for how to handle long-term care expenses. Supplemental health insurance like a Medicare Advantage plan might be a good option. When you start looking into plans, make sure you know the open enrollment dates for when you’re eligible to apply. By searching online, you should also be able to find answers to questions about what long-term care coverage is available to you in your state.
Without the help of Medicare Advantage plans or some other type of insurance, many people end up paying for care out of pocket. The problem with paying out of pocket is that long-term care expenses can be costly, which means you may end up depleting savings. Forbes recommends planning for how you would handle long-term care expenses as part of your overall retirement plan.
Some people choose to add to their retirement savings portfolio, and there are newer options for flexible retirements savings plans that have long-term care insurance built in. Another option is to purchase a long-term care insurance or hybrid insurance policy such as a long-term care rider on a life insurance policy. One consideration to look at is how close you are to retirement. Premiums for long-term care insurance are higher the older you get, so it really pays to plan early.
There isn’t just a single solution that works for everyone. The important thing to remember is that retirement planning isn’t complete without some kind of plan for long-term care. Most of all, the earlier you plan, the better.
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