Long-term care: Tips for planning and saving

This blog is courtesy of Julia Merrill, who started BefriendYourDoc to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. BefriendYourDoc provides advice on finding the right medical care, health insurance, and all things health and wellness. 

Your senior years truly are golden, and you should enjoy every minute of it. However, things can change in an instant, and you can quickly go from maximum independence to needing long-term care in the form of home care, hospice, rehabilitation, or a nursing home.

You might not think you’ll ever need long-term care, but what if you do? To avoid a jolting wake-up call, it is best to take steps now to plan for and anticipate long-term care needs, as well as plan for the accompanying costs.

Plan Ahead

Gauge Your Health

The golden years are certainly a time to relax and unwind, but your health shouldn’t take a backseat. Taking care of yourself now could reduce your need for long-term care, or at least lower the amount and/or length of time you will need it. Being proactive now could make a significant difference, so stay on top of preventive health services. While vision, hearing, and oral health are the most common preventive services, there are others you should be aware of as well, such as cancer screenings, physical health screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity), vaccinations, functional ability tests, and mental/cognitive ability tests. If an issue is detected, work with your doctor to manage and treat it. In addition, take your health into your own hands with the proper diet and exercise.

Adjust Your Home

As you age, the likelihood of trips and falls increases, and such an injury could result in a lengthy stay in a nursing home for rehab. To promote aging in place and independent living, you might consider making some home modifications to increase the safety of your home. Small adjustments can be made such as installing bathroom grab bars, handrails, or brighter lighting. More involved adjustments can be made as well, such as widening doorways to make room for wheelchairs, adding zero-step entryways, or moving the bedroom to the first floor. Pinpoint what areas in your home are causing problems and make the necessary changes to continue living happily and independently.

Prepare for Costs

Tap Into Your Life Insurance

When it comes to paying for long-term care, your first thought might be to dip into your personal savings, but there are other options. One such example is your life insurance policy. The most common myth regarding life insurance is that everyone needs it, but the opposite is true. There are several situations in which you need it, such as if you have dependent children living with you, you are sick or chronically ill and need to cash in the living benefit, or you don’t have prepaid funeral arrangements. However, there are situations in which life insurance isn’t necessary. For example, if your children are no longer dependent upon you or you have enough income to adequately care for you and your spouse, then you might consider selling your policy. By doing so, you receive a cash payment that can be used to pay long-term care costs or other unexpected expenses.

Use Your Resources

While you can certainly use your savings to pay for long-term care, there are other financials to turn to in order to fund long-term care. Examples include government benefits, pensions, real estate, reverse mortgages, and annuities. How? Take an income annuity for example. According to Forbes, “Life annuity income can be purchased over time during retirement to build an income source later in retirement when long-term care needs are likely to occur.” It is important to note that you may have to combine these funds with another source of income to cover the cost. Before you make a hasty decision, meet with a financial advisor to discuss your options to ensure you are making an informed decision.

Long-term care needs can arrive unexpectedly, so it is a good idea to prepare for this possibility now. Assess your future needs by not only assessing your health, but also taking control of it by getting regular checkups and making home modifications to improve safety. Plan ahead for costs as well by taking advantage of all your resources and enjoy peace of mind knowing you’re as prepared as you can be should the need for long-term care arise.

Stuck On You’s Aged Care labels

Did you know that Stuck On You has a range of labels that are tailored to health care settings?