According to Jan Blakeley Holman at Kiplinger.com, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050, at least 400,000 Americans will be 100 or older.
At the same time, long-term care for a growing aging population is currently one of the more daunting health care challenges. It’s inevitable that our health declines as we age. Additionally, no matter how hard we work to keep ourselves in shape, accidents can still happen. All it will take is one fall or a stumble down a staircase — or a major stroke — for us to become debilitated. So we’re living longer but always at the risk of needing long-term care (LTC).
Whether it’s done in-home with a provider or at a nursing or assisted care facility, long-term care is expensive. According to Retirement Living, a private room in a nursing home averages a monthly bill of about $8,121 each month. Factors that might impact nursing home care monthly costs include the area in question, size of the facility, services provided, as well as your length of stay. Websites can help you locate a facility in your area, as well as provide some much-needed information to help you make your decision.
However, you might be able to avoid the need for spending so much on long-term care — maybe even avoid LTC altogether — with a little bit of smart planning. If you do end up needing long-term healthcare, there are some ways to pay for it without draining your savings account.
It’s important to answer a few questions before you get your plan started.
- How’s your health right now?
- What about your spouse’s health?
- Do either of you have any medical conditions which might necessitate long-term healthcare, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis?
- What does your family’s medical history entail?
- Did either one of your parents have diabetes (regardless of type) or a heart condition?
- Do you exercise regularly and do you keep a healthy diet?
You should take every opportunity you can right now to keep yourself in the best shape possible. Many senior centers have lots of great exercise classes that are free to seniors 50 and up to help keep you feeling fit. And if you are aging in place, consider retrofitting your house to get around comfortably and safely.
In the meantime, look into long-term care insurance — a policy that can help cover those expenses. Keep in mind that premiums for policies will increase as you get older, and those more advanced in age will need more coverage than someone in their 20s. Also, if you plan to age in place, determine the value of your home in case you need to sell it to pay for expenses. An online calculator will give you an idea of what you can expect to pocket for the sale of your home based on its list price, the balance of your mortgage, and your real estate agent’s fee. The profits from your home sale can help offset some, if not all, of your LTC costs.
Even if you have a solid plan to stay healthy and safe, some event or some condition could place you or your spouse in LTC. If you have comprehensive long-term care insurance, your daily benefit will cover skilled and other types of care in your home or at a facility.
However, if you do not have LTC insurance, you’ll need to decide how to pay for care. Medicare can cover some of the expenses, but it will cover only a portion of skilled in-home care. Medicaid can pay for LTC as well, but only after all other resources have been exhausted. Be mindful that Medicaid is a state-run program — each state will have its own coverage rules. One option is to sell your house and use the proceeds to pay for the care. You can also look into a reverse mortgage with the help of the professionals at Reverse Mortgage Loan Advisors. Keep in mind that if LTC is extensive, the money might run out and you might need to sign up for Medicare regardless.
Lastly, consider starting a small part-time business to help you make a little money. Many people support their income by reselling clothes and knick-knacks on sites like Etsy. Additionally, if you could freelance as a writer or provide pet services like pet sitting. It’s all down to your comfort level; find something that you can do easily.
Aging doesn’t always mean long-term care is inevitable. If you stay as healthy as possible during your senior years and retrofit your house as you age in place, your chances exponentially increase when it comes to avoiding high LTC costs. Good living habits and a little planning will help you live out your years in good physical and financial shape
Author – Chelsea Lamb
Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.
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