Guest Blog: Don’t Tarnish Your Golden Years, Plan Ahead Now

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This week’s guest blog is courtesy of Hazel Bridges from AgingWellness. As we near mid-century, 83 million people will consist of the 65+ demographic as projected by the Census Bureau. The best advice, as offered in this piece: Plan now.

 

Don’t Tarnish Your Golden Years, Plan Ahead Now

 

Image via Pixabay

 

You plan for dinner. You plan your vacations. You should put at least that much effort into planning for your long-term care.

Need guidance? The following primer can give you a jumpstart:

What is long-term care?

If you become injured or unable to care for yourself due to age or disability, you’ll need long-term care, which is exactly what it sounds like: care for the long-term. This will be different for everyone and potential options include:

  • Skilled nursing care. Onsite residential care in a hospital setting.
  • Assisted living. Onsite residential care in a casual setting that allows access to medication assistance, social opportunities, and assistance with mobility, travel, etc.
  • Home care. At-home companionship and support for daily living activities, medication and possibly light housekeeping.

What factors affect my potential long-term care needs?

There are many factors that go into this. Some you can control; others are left up to chance and genetics. Activities that are harmful to your health, many of which Bronson Health attributes to stress such as drinking and smoking, can lead you down a path straight toward illness. Other issues include:

  • Unhealthy choices. Failure to keep your body in motion can make it easier for you to sustain an injury that requires hands-on care by family or paid providers. Falling is the most common trigger of injury to seniors. Likewise, making poor dietary decisions and engaging in risk-taking behavior can also put you at a greater risk for dependence on others.
  • Even if you live a healthy life, eat right, exercise and take great care of yourself, genetic predisposition to diseases and disabilities should be considered in your planning. Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cancer and other health complications are all things to look for in your family tree.

How can I fund my post-career life?

Your age, needs, location, savings and desired level of care and amenities determine how much long-term care will cost. Assisted living averages around $4,000 per month for a mid-level facility; luxury accommodations can be much higher. Nursing care may cost more than $100,000 per year or more. Home care services vary based on the provider and can cost as much as $127 a day. Funding for these services may be obtained in different ways including:

  • Private savings. Your IRA or 401K, savings accounts, the sale or real or personal property and gift funds from family.
  • Medicare Advantage. Standard Medicare doesn’t fully cover long-term care. A Medicare Advantage Plan from a provider like Anthem may be a wise option as it covers everything Parts A and B do, and many plans provide additional coverage for vision, hearing, and prescriptions.
  • Reverse mortgage. If you own your home, you can take advantage of the equity in it without having to move or reassign the title. A reverse mortgage can leverage your non-liquid assets and pay for all or part of your long-term care needs. This is a great option if home care needs arise unexpectedly. RMF offers some advantages and disadvantages to taking out a reverse mortgage.

The sooner you begin planning for potential needs, the better off you’ll be. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be able to take care of yourself until the end, few people can. Failure to consider your healthcare needs with age can create extra stress on you and a financial burden on your family. Government assistance isn’t always an option, and when it is, there are requirements that must be met each care term. If you don’t qualify, you may not get the care you need because your paperwork isn’t in order or due to a small change in your health.

It’s up to you to ensure your care needs are met. Start by making better decisions for your health now and decide how you’ll pay for yourself when you are no longer able to manage a home, job or your healthcare needs.

 

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