Tens of millions of Americans are estimated to require long-term care. As the Baby Boomer generation ages in the years to come, that number is only expected to increase.
According to Medicare.org, there are many reasons why seniors — or even younger people — might require long-term care, ranging from disability or disease to mental illness. Even sudden injuries or severe medical issues like heart attacks, strokes, or cancer could cause a person to lose their independence and require nearly constant care for the rest of their lifetime.
Here are some ways you can anticipate, plan for, and pay for long-term care, whether for yourself or someone else in your life.
Planning for Long-Term Care
As you begin to anticipate and plan for potential long-term care for yourself or a loved one, you can start by asking yourself a few questions.
What lifestyle choices are you making right now?
Be honest with yourself. Nobody is perfect, and we all have our vices. Most likely, there’s almost certainly something you could stop doing or cut back on to reduce your chances of one day needing long-term care.
How can you reduce the risk of injury or onset of illness?
For instance, a recent study showed that yoga empowers seniors by “preserving or enhancing physical function in older men and women.” This is promising news for aging individuals who are looking to maintain their independence and avoid long-term care!
Are there hereditary illnesses and conditions that could impact you?
We all have genetic susceptibility to develop certain conditions, and those types of conditions vary from person to person. Although many people associate nursing homes and long-term care facilities with conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, a recent study found that mental illness is more likely to place people in long-term care. Mental disorders made up nearly half of all admissions, while conditions like Parkinson’s represented only 15 percent.
Are there any home modifications you need to make?
Based on your answers to the above questions, some home modifications might be necessary. For instance, you might install special light bulbs that are known to prevent depression and boost mental health. You might also consider downsizing or moving into a home without stairs.
Paying for Long-Term Care
To help plan how you’ll pay for the high costs associated with long-term care, whether for yourself or a loved one, you can start by answering the following questions:
How close are you to retirement?
If you require long-term care earlier in life, it will become more expensive because the costs will eventually add up over the years. Later in life, you’ll be paying for fewer years, and you may qualify for special programs that can help offset the costs.
What savings plans or insurance programs are currently available?
Not all insurance plans cover long-term care, and health insurance rates generally increase once long-term care is required. That’s why it’s advantageous to look into Medicare and other options before you actually need care.
How do you plan on paying for the costs of long-term care?
It might be a good idea to have multiple financial streams to help you afford care for yourself or a loved one. Medicare and health insurance don’t cover everything, so start saving earlier and research your options. By getting long-term care insurance now, you can save money.
Another thing you can do to ease some of your family’s financial burden in a worst-case scenario is purchasing a pre-paid funeral plan. Pre-paying for your funeral can be easier than you think. For instance, you could designate a joint savings account towards saving up some money to cover funeral expenses. You could also purchase a prepaid insurance plan through a funeral home or a final expense insurance policy, the latter of which will also cover any end-of-life medical costs.
Long-term care and funerals might be difficult topics to approach right now. However, your efforts will make things easier for yourself and your family in the future.