If you are planning for retirement, you may have given a lot of thought to 401Ks and pensions but not to how you would pay for long-term care. Long-term care can be costly and can have a huge impact on your retirement, whether it’s you who needs it or a loved one. That’s why you should take these steps to make sure you are prepared for the need and costs of long-term care.
Anticipating Your Family’s Need for Care
Lifestyle Choices You Should Consider
The need for long-term care can rest on a variety of factors. Many, such as family medical history, you cannot change. But there are steps you can take to decrease the chances of you or a loved one needing care. A well-balanced diet can prevent debilitating conditions, such as stroke and diabetes, and may even decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, common reasons for long-term care. Routine exercise is also a great way to put off the need for care. Seniors who perform regular cardio, strength training, and balance workouts are less likely to suffer serious falls. Since falls account for most of the serious injuries in seniors, exercising to prevent them can also prevent the need for long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer seniors access to fitness facilities around the country, so check your policy to see if you’re eligible. If you’re on Original Medicare, you may need to wait until the next annual election period (later this year) to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.
Changes to Make to Age in Place
You may have heard people talking a lot about aging in place. Setting up a home so that seniors can age in place means making adjustments that prevent the need for long-term care outside of the home. Home modifications can reduce the risk of falls and make living at home much easier. Even if you or a loved one needs long-term care, paying for home care can be much less expensive and stressful than a nursing home. Simple steps, like making bathrooms safer and installing good lighting, can help seniors live independently and avoid the need for long-term care. In some cases, you may even be able to use grants or other funding to pay for upgrades if they are being made to improve accessibility for someone who is living with a disability.
Factoring Care into Your Financial Decisions
How to Plan to Pay for Long-Term Care
If no one needs long-term care just yet, you can put some more thought into paying for care. But keep in mind, most people may need care at some point, even if it’s in the last years of their life, so planning for the costs makes sense for everyone.
You can adjust retirement and savings plans to include enough to cover long-term care costs. Make sure your estimates for care costs are accurate so you can adjust savings to cover them. It’s also may be a good idea to look into long-term care insurance coverage. As with any form of insurance, you need to fully understand premiums, policies, and whether coverage is something you can afford.
Fast Ways to Pay for Long-Term Care
In many cases, the need for long-term care arises without any prior planning. When this happens, you need a way to cover the costs of care, but these should be considered as a last resort.
If you or your loved one owns a home, you may have an easier time paying for care. You can use the equity in your home to cover various care costs. If cash is needed to help pay for long-term care, and you still need to live in the home, consider a reverse mortgage, though you want to be sure to weigh the pros and cons of this decision. This is a great way to stay in your home without making additional payments. If you can afford the monthly payments, a home equity loan may be a better option for long-term care funds. Selling your life insurance can also give you the cash you need.
Another option is to downsize into a smaller, less expensive home and sell your current one. If you’re unsure how much you can sell your home for, Redfin has a handy home sale proceeds calculator that will generate an estimate.
No one wants to need long-term care in their life. But it’s often difficult to avoid. By thinking about long-term care now and planning how you will cover long-term care expenses, you can avoid the need to use your home when paying for long-term care.
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Hazel Bridges overcame breast cancer at age 60 and vowed to never waste another second. Every day, she challenges herself to live life to the fullest, and she aims to inspire others through her blog, AgingWellness.org.