The cost of long-term care in the United States continues to rise. BankRate reports that assisted living fees increase by more than 4 percent each year. You may not want to consider moving to an institutional setting, but there is a chance you (or your spouse or children) will need these services.
Planning for Long-Term Care
Factors such as smoking, drinking, stress, and exercise all play a role in the likelihood that you will require assistance later down the road. SixWise, an online healthy living blog, notes that diet also contributes to your health and that overeating on a regular basis can cause heart disease, diabetes, and a handful of other diseases that can affect your long-term quality of life. Genetics is also something to consider; if your parent(s) weren’t healthy, there may be hereditary conditions that will eventually inhibit your independence.
The sooner you begin planning for your long-term-care, the better. Talk with your adult children to find out whether they are willing to provide this type of care or whether it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to plan to relocate to an assisted living facility once issues arise.
Saving for your retirement isn’t a matter of a simple mathematical equation. As USA Today explains, how financially secure you’ll be in your senior years depends on age, income, and estimated future spending. If you’re not sure where to start, consider using a retirement calculator. When figuring in your estimated monthly spending, use a worst-case scenario so you aren’t caught off guard by unexpected expenses. You’ll need to ramp up your savings if you’re planning to retire early or if you’re already in your 40s or 50s.
Paying for Care
Planning is one thing, but paying for long-term care is another beast completely. Where will you come up with the money? Here are a few options to consider:
- 401K/IRA funds
- Health savings accounts
- Home sale proceeds
- Veterans benefits
- Personal savings
- Bridge loan
Life Insurance Benefits Now
Another option if you have a life insurance policy valued at more than $100,000 is selling the policy in a process known as “life settlement.” This is essentially a private transaction that conveys ownership of your life insurance policy for an amount less than the death benefit, but more than the surrender amount were you to cash in through your insurance provider. This option provides cash that you can use now to help pay for living expenses and medical care; your survivors won’t receive benefits, but you will also no longer be responsible for the monthly premium.
A Medicaid insurance settlement is a similar option. Several states now offer Medicaid-eligible seniors the option of allocating their life insurance payouts to provide for long-term care. If you qualify, the value of your policy is not counted toward your net worth, making it easier to obtain Medicaid assistance.
Lower Your Risks
While you can’t predict with 100-percent accuracy if you will ultimately wind up in need of assistive care, there are steps you can take to lower your risks of serious diseases and injuries.
The AARP notes that while some extra weight after the age of 50 is okay, losing just 4 percent of your total body weight can slice your chances of developing diabetes in half. You should also make a point to exercise for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes each day and minimize your intake of processed foods, which contain high levels of sugar, unhealthy fats, and inert ingredients that don’t properly fuel the body. Have your vision checked every year, and don’t skip doctors’ appointments, even if they are just to follow up on a minor issue.
You can also update your home with minor accommodations that will help prevent accidents and injuries. Making your home safer can help you put off long-term care and its costs. Simple and inexpensive features include railings along both sides of staircases, automatic nightlights in frequently-used rooms and hallways, and taped-down rugs and carpeting (which reduce tripping hazards).
Regardless of your age, it’s never too early to make a plan for your long-term healthcare needs. You may have to get creative in financing this care, but you have more options than ever to ensure that your waning health doesn’t become a burden on your children and grandchildren.