According to LongTermCare.gov, in 2000, about 10 million people needed long-term care, with about 63 percent of those people being over the age of 65. While Medicare provides some assistance, for most, it does not fully cover assisted living, home care, home improvements, or nursing homes. This article will discuss how you can begin to plan ahead and how to pay for long-term care should you or someone you love need long-term services. It is never too late or too early to begin preparing for the future.
Where Do You Want to Live?
The first step in planning for long-term care is to determine where you want to live. You will need to consider not only the optimal situation (perhaps for you that is staying at home), but you will also need to consider the worst case (perhaps that will mean that you will need around the clock care). If you want to stay in your current home, assess your property and identify current issues. You may be able to make modifications to your home now and factor those changes into your current budget. Things that you will need to take a look at include steps, size of bedrooms, width of doorways, and heights of counters.
If you desire to move into an assisted facility, start researching available options and how much they cost. Should the need arise, conduct the same research for skilled nursing facilities. Other options you could explore are home-sharing, 55-plus communities, retirement communities, continuing care retirement communities, government-supported housing, and living with family.
What Are the Available Resources?
Meeting the costs of health care needs is a costly endeavor. After you have determined the available and desirable options, then it is time to determine how you will pay for it. Medicare covers very few long-term care expenses. Medicaid may be an option to pay for your long-term care needs if you meet their strict financial and health criteria. If you are a veteran, VA benefits may be available to assist you in covering some of your expenses. Community-based services are an available option to help you manage the high cost of traditional long-term care services and help you maintain independent living by assisting you with personal care, mobility, housekeeping, and therapy.
Supplemental Medicare Advantage plans are another available resource to help seniors manage expenses associated with prescriptions, dental care, and vision care. If you are currently eligible for Medicare or nearing the age of eligibility, you should start researching the types of plans that suit your needs so you can begin to navigate enrollment requirements.
Can You Afford It?
In addition to the available resources to help mitigate costs, you should also investigate your assets, insurance, and whether you can afford long-term care through self-funding. Determine if you have specific resources that can be converted into cash should you need them. Also, determine whether you have some assets you could invest or reinvest in order to grow wealth and cover future medical costs.
Seniors who are not currently in need of long-term care but want to prepare in case the need arises can apply for long-term care insurance. You should be prepared to be hit with expensive premiums the older you get. While the premiums may be a high expense, the benefits of being able to factor the costs into your budget now and the peace of mind that you have readily available funds that do not require governmental approval may outweigh the cost.
Planning for long-term care is tedious and requires you to think about where you want to live, the costs, your current health, and how you will pay for medical care if the need arises. However, by researching, planning ahead, and weighing your options now, you will be setting up yourself and your loved ones for success in a stressful time. Take it slowly, get organized, and plan for your best quality of life while you can.
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