Important guest post by June Duncan, of Rise Up for Caregivers
The possibility of needing long-term care is something that most people don’t want to think about—much less plan for. But if you’re one of the 70 percent of people over the age of 65 who end up needing it, it’s best to be prepared when the day comes. Here are some ways to plan for long-term care needs, as well as advice on paying for the costs associated with them.
PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM CARE NEEDS
Assessing the likelihood that you or a loved one will need care is the first stage of planning. Though you can’t predict the future, there are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you to put a plan in place.
What lifestyle choices are you making?
Our daily habits can play a major role in our health and longevity because they can either reduce or increase the risks of various diseases. What you eat, the chemicals you take in, how much you exercise and your social environment are all known to have an effect.
How can you reduce risks?
Eating a balanced diet, fulfilling a consistent exercise regimen and avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco products are all ways to reduce your risks of illnesses. Furthermore, nutritious foods and strenuous exercise make the body stronger, which lowers the chance of serious falls and injuries. Wearing a motorcycle helmet, wearing a seatbelt, and taking other safety precautions also reduce risks.
Are there any home modifications you should make?
Part of preparing for your future is thinking ahead about any modifications you may need to make to your home so that you can age in place and save money on long-term care costs. Examples of some common accessibility upgrades are: installing railings on both sides of stairs, using automatic night lights, removing any loose carpeting or rugs, etc. You’ll also want to make sure you can get in and out of your house easily and that everyday necessities are easily accessible.
What about potential hereditary illnesses or conditions?
It can also be worth your time to look into genetic testing. There’s no completely accurate method to predict whether or not you’ll get Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, or any other disease, but being aware of the risks can help you prepare for long-term care insurance.
PAYING FOR LONG-TERM CARE
After you’ve done some planning for potential long-term care needs, it’s time to plan for the costs of those needs. Ask these questions to help yourself prepare.
How close are you to retirement?
The possibility of needing long-term care becomes more of a reality as you get closer to retirement. Statistics show that the percentage of those who require some form of long-term care rapidly increases at age 65 and over. When you’re planning for retirement, consider the probability that you’ll need care at some point.
What insurance and savings programs can help?
When considering savings and insurance programs, the earlier you prepare, the better. You’ll need to check if long-term care insurance (LCTI) is an option. Such policies ensure that there are funds available for long-term care costs for a set amount of time. If not, you can sometimes add a rider to your life insurance policy that pulls funds from your death benefits. Health savings accounts (HSA) can work great as well. As of 2017, an individual can deposit up to $3,400 and a family up to $6,750, and those over age 55 can add up to $1,000 more. There are also several tax benefits with an HSA and your balance rolls over each year.
What other ways can you pay for long-term care?
Along with insurance and savings programs, there are other ways to pay for your long-term care. The VA offers financial aid to eligible veterans and their spouses. Medicaid will cover some of the costs of long-term care; once you start using it, however, you can no longer contribute to your HSA. Another option is saving the money yourself by setting aside portions of your investment plan.
It’s best to start thinking about your long-term care before you need it. Start planning by considering your lifestyle choices, ways to reduce risks, future home modifications and possible hereditary illnesses. Look into ways for paying by considering retirement, insurance and savings programs and other factors. Don’t wait, start planning.
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