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Long Term Care: Why You Need to Plan for It

Written by Hazel Bridges

As unfortunate as it sounds, your health is not guaranteed from day to day. This is never more evident than when you reach your seniors years and those aches and pains that didn’t exist before suddenly show up unannounced.

Medicare Not a Hail Mary Pass

While Medicare is vital for many seniors, it provides little in the way of coverage for assisted living or skilled nursing care. Even when it does provide coverage, the requirements are strict and often confusing, as evidenced by this explanation given by Elder Law Answers. Essentially, Medicare only covers short periods of time in a skilled nursing facility when skilled nursing care and supervision is absolutely necessary — and even that’s a gray area. You should also understand that Medicare does not cover assisted living/custodial care, which is vastly different from a nursing home/skilled care facility.

Planning Ahead

If you’re fortunate enough to be in good health right now, you have an opportunity to begin planning how you will pay for your potential long-term care and living needs. Obviously, the more cash you are able to save, the more choices you will have when and if the time comes. If you plan to sell your home, the proceeds from its sale may be enough to pay for assisted living. However, when you want to age in place, you will have to acquire alternate funds to pay for senior services such as adult day care, home health aides, case management, and other self-provided provisions that can help you remain independent. In this case, a reverse mortgage may be beneficial, as it will allow you to stay in your home while paying for your own care.

How Much Will I Need?

The average cost of assisted living in 2015 was approximately $43,200 per year, or roughly $3,600 per month. Genworth Financial estimates a nursing facility care costs nearly twice that much. This equates to $86,000 to $160,000 for two years’ worth of care, which is approximately the average time spent in assisted living or nursing care. With careful planning, there are ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality care. These options include selecting a studio-style apartment or sharing a two-bedroom unit, each of which can save an average of $6,000 to $8,000 per year. Choosing a smaller community or one outside of the major metropolitan area is another way to offset the cost of assisted living, with savings as much as 25 percent annually.

Benefits of Assisted Living

While nursing care is typically considered a necessity, assisted living is an attractive option even for seniors who are in relatively good health. Despite the cost, there are many benefits that can enhance your day-to-day life, making the added expense justified. First, assisted living offers a sense of community. You are surrounded by many like-minded adults and have access to a revolving calendar of activities. Dining options are usually included in rent, and depending on the type of accommodations you choose, you may have access to a private kitchen if you want to make your own meals. ElderCare Link Editor-in-Chief Carol Bradley Bursack notes that the vast majority of assisted living centers also provide transportation and safety features, which may be attractive to seniors who do not live in close proximity to friends or relatives.

Considering that Medicare coverage only provides limited care under the direst of circumstances, it makes sense to save for the possibility of long-term care. It’s always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario so you can live your best life.

Learn more by visiting Hazel at AgingWellness.org

About the author
About the author

Carl Snyder is a licensed insurance agent that specializes in life insurance and medicare insurance options.  He is also a husband, a father, a fisherman of sticks, a runner, a world class donut eating champion, and a fan of all things practical.

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