It's daunting to think about the day when you may not be able to live independently and care for yourself. But planning early for long-term care can keep you from becoming overwhelmed in the event that you develop a chronic illness, disability or other condition. By planning your care now, you'll be more likely to have greater control over significant decisions and remain comfortable as you get older.
Here are some ways that you can start planning your long-term care before you need it:
Consider the Type of Care You May Need
It's important to think about all the possibilities for long-term care before you have to make tough decisions. Take a look around your home. Will you be able to move around efficiently if you develop mobility problems? Think about the adjustments that can be made to your home to make it more accessible, like putting in a ramp or widening the doorways to allow for wheelchair access. You should also think about the possibility of hiring a home healthcare professional or housekeeper to assist with your long-term care needs at home. If your home is not suited to these adjustments, you might want to consider options for a long-term care facility.
Even if you don't currently have mobility problems or a chronic illness, you may develop these issues as you get older. By thinking about all long-term care possibilities early, you'll be prepared if you need to make a quick decision to manage your health and quality of life.
Explore Financing Options
All long-term care options come at a cost, so it's essential to weigh this against your planned retirement budget. Figure out the typical costs for in-home caregivers and mobility adjustments for your home. And even if you plan to stay in your home, research the average costs of long-term care facilities and nursing homes in your area. You might need to make a tough decision down the line, and having an idea of the cost will make things easier.
Once you have an idea of what your options are cost-wise, think about how they may fit into your budget. You may think that health insurance will cover all costs for long-term care, but in reality, Medicare and private health insurance typically cover very little in this category. If you have a low income and fit certain medical criteria, you may qualify for Medicaid to cover the costs of your long-term care.
If you're worried about paying for long-term care in the future, you may consider long-term care insurance, which will have many different coverage options that may help. Some life insurance policies will also provide coverage for long-term care, but it's important to chat with a financial professional about how this may affect your taxes. In an emergency situation, you may be able to cover costs by taking out a reverse mortgage on your house. This is a loan that you don't have to pay back as long as you live in your home, but it can come with high costs and repercussions, so be sure to discuss with a financial professional before going this route.
Overall, the best way to plan for long-term care is to build the costs into your retirement savings plan. Consider all possible options and build a sample monthly budget according to the care you may need. This will help you determine how much you need to save per paycheck now so you can be prepared for whatever comes your way in the future.
Share Your Plan with Your Loved Ones
Remember to talk with your loved ones about the possibility of needing long-term care in the future. They may be able to support you in various ways and allow you to cut down on costs when you need care. Having these discussions early will also make it easier for your family to make the right decisions on your behalf if you're unable to. Be sure to involve a financial professional in these conversations as well, to guide you through the financial impacts of long-term care for both you and your loved ones.
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