We hear a lot about long-term care. Most of us want to ignore the topic since it is not very pleasant. However, long-term care services are a vital part of health care. With the growing demand for care and accelerating costs, failing to plan can be devastating for families and finances.
Long-term health care aims to ensure the individual's quality of life that due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging, needs help and assistance with daily living activities and general ongoing health care due to chronic health issues. Included in long-term health care is the supervision many people will need due to cognitive decline from Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia.
What happens is we become dependent on the assistance of others at some point in our lifetime. Usually, senior citizens are the recipients of this kind of health care service; however, younger people may require extended health care for many reasons, including accidents, cancer, MS, strokes, and Parkinson's Disease, for example.
However, most long-term health care recipients are older, and our risk of needing long-term care services increases as we get older.
Think Long-Term Health Care When Planning Retirement
There are several reasons to plan for long-term health care. As we get older, we all face declining health, body, and mind. The consequences affect families, friends, and finances.
Here are the top three reasons you should consider the consequences of long-term care when planning out your retirement.
Care is Costly
You must save for retirement. The problem is that saving, whether for long-term or short-term goals, is not a habit many people have picked up over the years. Too often, people spend too much and save too little.
In a 2019 poll survey, less than half of Americans have no savings at all. If you belong to the other half with something tucked away for a rainy day, it would be a wise decision to start setting aside a portion for your long-term health care. Since the average American spends twenty years in retirement, consider having a nest fund that can stretch over that period.
Better yet, for many people, Long-Term Care Insurance provides guaranteed tax-free benefits that will protect your savings and give you the choice of the care you want, including home care. Most LTC Insurance policies will have an inflation option, so your benefits increase over time as the cost of care increases.
Rapidly increasing long-term health care costs can worsen the financial devastation on families. Inflation and market uncertainty mean you should have guarantees as you approach your retirement. Long-Term Care Insurance offers those guaranteed tax-free benefits. Loved ones have the time to be family instead of caregivers.
Whether you try to self-fund future long-term care or buy LTC Insurance, you need to understand the current and future costs. If you are in your 40s or 50s, while you could need care in the next ten years, most likely, it will be 30+ years from now. Where will those costs be at that time, and how will you afford to pay them?
Nursing home care is still the most expensive, but most long-term health care is delivered in a person's home. You probably would prefer to stay in your home, and your family would probably like that as well. The problem is with increasing demand and higher labor costs, the costs of all long-term care services and supports are going up at alarming rates.
Look at the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News. Find your state and the city you live closest to so you can see the current financial impact of long-term care on income and assets.
If you play with the calculator, you will see the costs vary depending on where in the country you live. Even within a state, you can see dramatic cost swings from one area to another. If you plan on relocating, consider the costs of long-term health care as part of that equation.
Unlike Long-Term Care Insurance, self-funding requires a large sum of money set aside just for future care. There are tax implications of self-funding (gains, taxes, losses, etc.). Plus, depending on how you are investing the money, you are subjected to market timing. You cannot time the markets or the time you may need your own care.
Either way, you need a plan.
Taking Care of Relationships
No matter what your current relationships with friends and family may be, it will be challenging for them to manage family obligations alongside caring for you or another loved one in the future.
The energy, time, and expenses in providing top-notch quality care can easily take a toll on already stressed loved ones. There are many situations when family members can provide the resources needed to keep their senior relatives under their roofs and in their care — and that can be a wonderful experience for some - or at least at first.
The reality for most is this: you may eventually need to look out for yourself. The role of being a family caregiver is demanding. It is physically a difficult job. However, there are emotions involved, so family caregiving is emotionally demanding as well.
Some family members might be able to offer respite care for the primary caregiver. That can provide the necessary, although temporary, relief. There will often be strife among family members as to who is doing all the work and who is not.
It usually becomes best, if possible, to bring in professional in-home care or consider assisted living or other long-term care facilities depending on the person's needs.
Keep in mind, however, that care is costly. Health insurance, including Medicare (and supplements), won't pay for this kind of extended health care. Medicaid requires a person to have little or no income and assets, and then the care choices are limited. Long-Term Care Insurance, if available, gives you the choice of care, but you cannot buy a policy when you need it - it must be done in advance - often when a person is in their 40s or 50s.
When you are the one that is older and in declining health, consider the needs of your spouse and adult children, who may be forced into the role of a caregiver if you have failed to plan now.
Ensure Quality of Life and Qualify of Care
Because long-term health care can cost a pretty penny, have a savings plan that will either fund future care or purchase Long-Term Care Insurance, which will provide the benefits you will need when you need them.
Planning early gives you plenty of time to save up for more than just a long-term care solution. Once you have prioritized long-term health care as one of your top goals, you can breathe more easily.
Once you have taken care of one of the most important things to prepare for in life (remember, first things first!), you will have the freedom to pursue other interests and hobbies. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you have the means to take care of yourself should crunch time come without becoming reliant on your family or draining assets. You will have the confidence to fully enjoy life with your family and friends with less worry and peace of mind.
Getting Help in Crisis
If mom or dad needs help now it can be stressful. When families are in crisis they will often need help. It is too late to buy insurance. A care concierge can be very helpful. A concierge works with busy family members who don't have time, or the knowledge, to deal with occupational, organizational, or personal tasks. A professional personal concierge is similar to a hotel concierge in that the sky is almost the limit in ensuring that your medical and non-medical needs are met. These can range from helping with housework to arranging for your medical appointments to providing companion support.
Ideally, you want to address the costs and burdens of aging now when you are younger and healthier. You currently have choices. You can stay in control. Your loved ones will always have the time to be family instead of caregivers. Your savings can be protected. Planning is always better than a crisis.
Long-term health care costs are increasing dramatically. The financial impact is considerable. The effect on your family is also a significant concern. You might think a son or daughter can provide your future care, but it is hard to juggle their career and family responsibilities with being your caregiver. Family caregivers are usually untrained and unprepared for the job.
This is why affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is so critical. You will have access to your choice of quality care options, including at home. An LTC policy addresses the significant cash flow problem with the guaranteed tax-free benefits available to pay for quality care services. However, the policy also gives your loved one’s time to be family instead of your caregiver.
Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when premiums are lower, and their health allows them to enjoy the most options.
Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care
Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price.
Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.
A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS
Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.
One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.
LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live. Plus, each state has vital state-specific information you should know - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News
The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
You might have questions and LTC NEWS provides the answers for many of the most asked questions here - Frequently Asked Questions | LTC News. Find all the resources available on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Does Mom or Dad Need Help Now?
If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help and the right care services for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.
Start by reading our four guides -
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim
Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance.
Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care.
If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation.
Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Advantages of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.
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