If you have kids in high school or college, you are well aware that time flies. The fact is that regardless of your age, now is the time to plan for the future in case you need long-term care as you age. Today, it’s more critical than ever. Inside Dementia states that one in eight people over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. With longer lifespans and no cure for this disease, it’s time to consider preparing for the future.
Paying for Long-Term Care Costs
To start planning for your future long-term care costs, you’ll need to start by answering the following questions.
- How close are you to retirement?
- What are the savings and insurance programs available now to help pay for long-term care?
- How do you plan on paying for the costs of long-term care?
If you think you might need to reside in an assisted living facility, keep in mind that Medicare does not cover them. Options for this and other long-term funding include:
- Veterans benefits, if this applies to you.
- Local non-profit organizations.
- Federal assisted living grants.
- Medicaid in over 40 states, if you have a low enough income.
If none of these apply, you can buy long-term care insurance to pay for your needs. While it can be costly in some cases, the sooner you buy, the more affordable it is; learn more at AARP.
(additional resources can be found here on www.ltcnews.com)
You can also set yourself up to age in place. This is a good option if you are in good health. Take steps to do so by making better choices, including:
- Starting a fitness routine.
- Eating a balanced diet.
- Seeing your doctor regularly.
- Reducing stress.
- Improving your sleep hygiene.
You can also start preparing your home for aging in place. That will come in handy for your future, and you’ll be able to save on long-term care costs. Modifications you can make now include:
- Installing railings on both sides of the stairs.
- Using automatic night lights.
- Removing any loose carpeting or rugs.
- Installing grab bars in the shower or bath.
- Using non-slip covers in slippery areas.
Perhaps a new home that meets these future needs might work.
Assessing Your Future Needs Now
Before you start panicking, though, it’s important to know that your future health is dependent on several things. You can take steps to assess your possibility of contracting certain conditions.
First, read this list of 10 common chronic health concerns for seniors. If you have any of conditions in your family, you may have a genetic risk to get them yourself. You can get tested for some of these issues, but be careful: Test results can impact your ability to get insurance in the future.
Other things that can affect your odds of getting a chronic illness or serious health issue include:
- Your gender: Women are more likely than men to get Alzheimer’s disease.
- Your health and lifestyle choices: If you are out of shape, have a poor diet, smoke, or abuse substances, you can reduce your odds of a healthy future. There are other, less obvious issues that can lead to life-threatening illnesses as well. Learn what they are at Verywell Mind.
- Risk of injury: You also may require future care if you have problems with your joints or bones now. Take a bone density test and consider if you’ve had a prior injury, such as a bone fracture or torn ACL. These can have an impact your mobility in the future.
- Obesity: Obesity can shorten your lifespan two to four years and up to a decade for those who are very obese. This may be just one of many factors that can add up to a shorter lifespan, but it’s one you may be able to control. Speak to your doctor right away about reducing this risk factor.
It’s never too soon to assess and plan for your future long-term care needs. Start working toward a healthy, long life now.
About the author
June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.