According to the Motley Fool, 69 percent of Americans will need long-term care one day. While this statistic may look scary, you can overcome these fears by preparing for that eventuality ahead of time. As long as you have thought ahead, long-term care does not have to be a financial or emotional burden on you and your loved ones. Senior Care Central brings you some tips and resources that can help you prepare for long-term care.
How to Finance Your Long-Term Care Needs
The best long-term health plan works to prevent it from being needed and plans for the eventuality that it will. Even as you change your home and lifestyle to decrease your chances of ever having to fund long-term care, you need to know where those funds would come from.
There are a few options available to you, each with their pros and cons:
- You could simply set money aside for this purpose. If you choose to do this, it is worth understanding exactly how much money you need to save. The main benefit is that you will only ever spend as much money as is needed. The downsides are that you may find it harder to save for other expenses and that you can only really guess a target figure.
- You can purchase long-term care insurance. The main benefit is the ease of mind that comes with it, but it can add up to a lot of money over the years. This article by Nolo details the pros and cons in more detail.
- You can rely on existing health insurance, such as Medicare. Medicare can help fund some healthcare, but it does not cover what they call “custodial care,” which are the services associated with any form of assisted living. Seniors are often best off signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which can offer additional coverage for prescription drugs and vision, dental, and hearing care. Just make sure you sign up during the yearly enrollment period.
How to Anticipate and Plan for Long-Term Care
Being smart about long-term care means facing the issue head-on and trying to determine, as objectively as possible, what issues you could have and how you could pay for them. Before thinking about the money, look at how you can possibly anticipate your future medical needs.
Of course, the answer is that you can’t — not really. But you can take a look at your lifestyle, health, and genetics to determine particular risks. For example:
- Are you exercising enough? If not, you are putting yourself at risk of stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain cancers.
- Are you eating a balanced diet? Many people overestimate how healthy their diets are, so go back to basics and get a real understanding of what eating well means.
- Is your home safe for aging in? You can greatly reduce your risk of accident and injury if you make some small home modifications to keep yourself safe.
- Is there a history of illness in your family? Collect all the information you can get about your family medical history to see if you are at risk of any genetic illnesses.
Asking yourself these questions can be scary. However, running away from the subject is likely to make things worse. Apart from genetic illnesses and accidents (which can be managed and prevented), your health is actually well within your control. No matter how old you are now, efforts to improve it could save you the need for long-term care in the future.
Illnesses and accidents do happen sometimes, and the elderly may need more help getting back on their feet afterward. This is something you can try to prevent, but it is ultimately outside your control. What is fully within your control is how responsibly you plan for this eventuality, so that you can just focus on getting better if that day ever comes.