Options to Consider When Planning for Long-Term Care Expenses
Updated: Dec 17, 2018
The need for long-term care is shared by as many as 12 million Americans today. Many of these seniors find it difficult to finance the high costs of long-term care, particularly in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Although Medicare can help seniors pay for expensive medical services and treatments, it does little to help cover the expenses of daily living assistance. Even if you never anticipate needing long-term care, it’s an excellent idea to be prepared. Plan ahead to cover the costs so you can support a high quality of life for you or your loved one.
Aging in Place Safely
The majority of seniors who receive assistance choose to remain at home rather than in an institution. This can easily be managed by making some simple home upgrades to increase the safety and functionality of your space. This might mean installing grab bars in bathrooms to reduce the risk of falls or widening doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. You should consider removing loose carpeting to prevent trips and slips. Adding extra lighting to entrance ways and staircases will also help prevent falls by increasing the visibility of steps and other hazards. If you can, move your essential rooms to the ground floor of your house to minimize the number of times you need to use the stairs. Installing railings on both sides of staircases can also make a huge difference when it comes to safety. The idea here is to make your home safe, more enjoyable and easier to live in.
Understanding Your Insurance Options
Long-term care insurance is invaluable to seniors who end up requiring assistance with daily tasks. You have a couple of different options for this. Long-term care insurance will cover the costs associated with care that are not covered by Medicare. For many, however, the premiums required by long-term care policies are too high, causing Americans to look elsewhere for help with coverage. Another, newer option is to get a hybrid life insurance policy with a long-term care option. If you end up needing long-term care, this policy will help you cover the expenses. If you don’t, your family will receive your death benefit. Just note that these hybrid policies are often more expensive than traditional long-term care insurance.
Government Programs That Can Help You
Although Medicare does not cover the costs of ongoing personal care, Medicaid may be able to help you out if you’re a low-income family. Your eligibility for Medicaid will depend on your assets and the specific requirements of your state, but the program generally covers costs for nursing homes, assisted living, and care at home. Some states have PACE, a program that can provide at-home care to people who would otherwise have to move into a nursing home. You should also take advantage of any veterans benefits or Social Security disability income that you may be eligible for. Check out Benefits.gov for more information.
Receiving Income from Your Investments
Another option is to supplement your retirement pension by using your assets to produce an income. PayingForCare recommends seeing if you can fund long-term care yourself to avoid paying insurance premiums. For example, if you’re moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility and your house will remain empty, you can rent it out to help pay for your care. If you choose to sell your home, you can invest the money into bonds and shares that pay out regular returns. Both of these options allow you to hold onto your assets while using the money they generate to fund your care. This may not be able to cover the full expense of long-term care, but it can certainly help you out.
Seniors can still have a meaningful life regardless of any decline in their physical or mental functions. Long-term care allows people to receive the individualized support they need to retain their dignity and age with grace. Since long-term care can be quite costly, anyone over 50 should seriously consider planning for the expense, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.