Are you prepared for the possibility of requiring long-term care? Perhaps you think you can avoid the need altogether. Although this may be true for one-third of today’s seniors, you have a nearly 70-percent chance of needing long-term care at some point after the age of 65. Since care in a nursing home can cost upwards of $7,000 per month, it’s best to be prepared.
Planning to Meet Long-Term Care Needs
Know Your Risk Factors
Assessing the possibility that you or a loved one will need long-term care can help you more realistically prepare to handle the associated costs, and maybe avoid the need for care altogether. Take a look at your lifestyle choices and your current health. Some of the most common culprits that negatively affect your ability to be independent include preventable lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity. Talk to a doctor about your health, and find out if there are any changes you can make to decrease your chances of developing issues in the future. You may discover that a simple diet change is all you need to avoid illness. Also, take a look at your family history for any genetic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, that may increase your chances of needing long-term care.
Reduce the Onset of Injury
Another common reason that seniors need long-term care is accidental injury. Falls are the leading cause of injury in seniors, often occurring in the home. Your risk of falls increases with cognitive impairment, muscle weakness, vision issues, and home hazards. Although many of these are difficult to control, you can reduce hazards in your home by making some simple home modifications. For example, EverydayHealth recommends examining each room in your house and fixing loose carpeting, uneven floorboards, or slippery throw rugs. Consider installing handrails along staircases and grab bars in bathrooms as well.
Did you know that regular strength and flexibility training could also help prevent injury from falls? Exercise programs can improve your balance, reaction time, and coordination to help you keep yourself upright if you start to fall. Stronger bones and muscles will buffer the impact of a fall and improve your body’s resistance to injury.
Paying for Your Long-Term Care
Know Your Insurance Options
After retirement, it can be difficult to meet the cost demands of long-term care on a pension. Long-term care insurance can help you out by covering the costs of living assistance in a nursing home, adult day care, or your own home. However, the premiums for this insurance can be expensive, so many Americans are seeking alternatives.
You do have other options, according to Investopedia. One of these is short-term care insurance. This is understandably more affordable than long-term care insurance, but only covers a period of 180 to 360 days. Another option is critical-care or critical-illness insurance, which can provide cash payments to you if you are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer. You can also take out an annuity with a long-term care rider, allowing you to use your benefits with more freedom than with traditional long-term care insurance.
Although Medicare only covers costs associated with medical services and procedures, it can offset many of the costs of long-term care. Medicare Advantage plans can be a helpful way to supplement this coverage. For example, some plans provide additional benefits for prescriptions, vision, dental, fitness services, caregiver support and a 24/7 nursing advice line. If you’re not sure what Medicare Advantage plans are offered where you live, take a look at this helpful tool; simply click on your state, and you’ll be directed to local contacts and organizations that can answer all of your questions.
Consider Self-Funding Your Long-Term Care
Some people choose to self-fund their long-term care using their own savings and investments. This may involve liquidating some of your assets to cover the costs of care. If selling your home isn’t an option, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage. This is a loan option available to homeowners over the age of 62, which allows you to convert some of your home’s equity into cash. Just make sure you carefully weigh the pros and cons of this decision first.
No one wants to lose their independence. Fortunately, long-term care can help seniors who are suffering from physical or cognitive decline maintain a high quality of life. Perhaps you won’t need it at all, but it can never hurt to have a plan!
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