Northington Blog

Tips to Start Planning for Long-Term Care Today

In our culture, many people try to avoid discussing the processes involved as mature adults retire age into seniors. However, it is important to have conversations about planning for your care and the future of your family should the need arise. Long-term care can be expensive, particularly if your family is not prepared for the cost. Here are some ways you can start talking about long-term care.


Paying for Long-Term Care


Paying for long-term care is much easier when you have many years to prepare. After you have assessed the likelihood that you will require long-term care, take a realistic look at how many years you have until retirement. (Keep in mind that, while the average age of retirement is still around 65, this can vary quite a bit according to net worth, ability, and health.) The cost of long-term care depends greatly on various factors like the amount of care required, the location, and the amenities offered at your chosen care facility. Do a little research into different forms of long-term care in your area and their average costs, then compare the monthly cost of care with the amount you are currently saving per month.


While Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care, it is possible to acquire long-term care insurance to provide for your needs in the event you require it. You may also want to look into Humana Medicare Advantage plans, which are private plans that provide the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B, plus allowance for the costs of prescriptions, dental, and other needs; research information about Medicare open enrollment so you don’t miss your opportunity to sign up from October 15 through December 7.


If you do not have much time to save money and do not want to purchase insurance, you may decide to sell your house to help pay for the cost. The value of a home’s sale can cover a good number of months of long-term care; for instance, homes in Little Rock, Arkansas, have sold for an average of $177,000 in the last month.


Planning for Long-Term Care


Ideally, you would begin planning for long-term care well before it is actually required. This is because Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care, such as assisted living programs and nursing homes, so you will be left with the monetary burden. If people wait until they have retired to look into long-term care, they are more likely to end up in debt or dire financial straits — or living on the generosity of family members. When this happens, it often causes seniors to feel like they are a burden on their family, decreasing their self-esteem and leading to a downturn in their mental health. In short, the best way you and your family can prepare for long-term care is to start as early as possible.


When you are assessing the likelihood that you or a loved one will require long-term care, even if you are currently far from retirement, there are certain factors you can examine today. First, take a look at your current state of life. How healthy are you from day to day; do you exercise regularly or eat well? The way you eat and whether you remain physically active is the most important indicator of post-retirement health. Next, take a look at your genetic factors. While you can certainly act now to begin to reduce your chances of requiring long-term care, not all outcomes are preventable. Are there any diseases, physical or mental, that run in your family?


Finally, many people who would otherwise be in perfect health end up requiring long-term care after an injury. Consider what steps you can take to reduce injury in everyday life — for instance, if you have difficulty balancing, try reducing clutter in your home and adding non-slip mats.


The closer you get to retirement, the more important it is to plan for long-term care. Even if the cost may seem steep, there are ways to cover it, including insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, and the sale of your home.




June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.



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