If you’re planning for retirement, you’ve probably heard about long-term care and the need to plan for it. It’s a common need for retirees. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that today’s 65-year-olds have a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point in their lives.1 The average senior will need care for three years.
But what exactly is long-term care? How is it provided? And what kind of health issues cause a need for long-term care? Long-term care is a broad term that applies to a variety of services. It’s difficult to plan for something when you don’t know exactly what it will look like or how much it will cost.
Long-term care is generally defined as extended assistance with basic living activities, like mobility, bathing, eating, household chores and more. It can be provided in the home or in a facility. It’s often caused by cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s but can also be needed as a result of stroke, cancer, heart disease, joint issues and a wide range of other conditions.
You can’t predict what kind of health issues you’ll face in the future, but you can plan for potential costs. Below are three common ways in which long-term care is administered. A financial professional can help you develop a strategy to pay for your future care needs.
For many seniors, long-term care is progressive. It often starts with support for simple tasks like meal preparation, cleaning or running errands. As health issues become more intense, they need more hands-on assistance with things like mobility or bathing.
You may be able to count on a family member or friend for help in the early stages of care. However, family-based care usually doesn’t last forever. At some point, your care needs may progress to a level that is beyond your family’s capability. For instance, you may reach a point where your spouse can no longer transfer you from a bed to a wheelchair. Or you may need round-the-clock support and that may be too much for your family to provide.
While these thoughts aren’t pleasant, they’re a reality for many seniors. According to projections, it’s likely that most seniors will need paid, professional care at some point. Even if your family is able to help, don’t count on that low-cost assistance to meet all your needs.
Even if your needs have progressed beyond what your family can provide, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to move into a facility. You may be able to stay in your home and get the care you need, especially if you’ve developed a strategy to pay for care.
For example, you could modify your home to accommodate health equipment such as a bed, a wheelchair or even grab bars. You might be able to hire an in-home health aide to provide custodial care and possibly even skilled nursing.
Genworth estimates that a full-time in-home health aide costs an average of $4,195 per month.2 Most long-term care insurance policies cover home care, even if it’s provided by a family member. Many policies also cover home modifications and equipment.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 35 percent of all seniors spend at least a year in a nursing or assisted living facility at some point.1 You may need skilled nursing as the result of a specific injury or illness. Or you may decide to move into an assisted living facility, so you have full-time support available.
Either way, your facility care is likely to be a costly proposition. Genworth estimates that the average room in an assisted living facility cost $4,000 per month in 2018. A room in a nursing home cost more than $7,000.2
It’s possible that these costs will be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, but that’s not usually the case. Medicare only covers skilled nursing that’s related to a specific hospitalization. Even if you qualify for Medicare, the coverage typically lasts only several months. Medicaid only covers nursing home care if you have few assets and little income. You may want to think about alternatives to Medicare, like long-term care insurance, to pay for your stay in a facility.
Do you have a strategy to pay for long-term care? If not, let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
18148 – 2018/10/17
It’s a situation every child fear, but one that is a painful reality for many families. A parent, after spending decades raising a family, building a career and maintaining a home, no longer has the physical or mental ability to care for themselves. They either need care and support in their home, or they need to transition into an assisted living facility.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of Americans age 65 and older can expect to use long-term care at some point in their lives. On average, they will need care for three years, although 20 percent of retirees will need it for five years or more.1
If you’ve already started exploring your care options, you know how costly these services can be. In some cases, you may be looking at thousands of dollars per month for several years. If your parent doesn’t have significant assets or long-term care insurance, that could be a tough bill to pay.
At the same time, you may be preparing for retirement, or you could be newly retired. You might not have the resources or financial flexibility to shoulder some of the burden. While you may want to help your parent get the care they need, you also don’t want to sabotage your own plans.
Fortunately, you have options available. Below are three sources to explore as you plan your parent’s long-term care:
There are a variety of government assistance programs you may want to look into. While Medicare is the most prominent, it often doesn’t cover long-term care costs. The exception is if the long-term care is a direct result of a hospitalization. In that case, Medicare may cover costs temporarily, but it usually isn’t a long-term solution.
Medicaid will cover long-term care almost as long as it is needed. The catch, though, is that your parent will have to be nearly destitute before they’re eligible. To qualify for long-term care, you must have a very low level of cash and few other assets.
Finally, if your parent is a veteran, they may qualify for a program known as Aid & Attendance (A&A) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The A&A program is designed to help housebound veterans with their care expenses.
The A&A benefit is paid monthly in addition to any existing military pension. The VA uses a complex formula to arrive at the A&A benefit amount, so you’ll want to consult with the agency for more information.
If your parent needs long-term care, you’ll probably start your planning process by evaluating their bank accounts, pension plans, investment accounts and more. Those are all great resources to consider.
However, there may be other assets that are just as helpful. For example, your parent could have old permanent life insurance policies that have been accumulating cash value in the form of dividends or interest for years or even decades. You could tap into that cash value to pay for care.
Also, look at your parent’s physical assets. It may be difficult to part with a treasured car, art collection or even the family home, but if it gets your parent the care they need, it could be worth it. You could also consider a reverse mortgage to tap into the home’s equity without surrendering the house itself.
Family Care Agreements
If you have siblings, you may find that the most efficient way to provide your parent with care and support is to handle it within the family. This could be especially true if your parent needs help only with basic activities like cleaning, dressing and bathing, rather than with medical issues.
In some families there’s one sibling who may have the time, temperament and skills to provide such care. Of course, it also may not be fair for that sibling to shoulder the entire burden. In that case, you may wish to create a family care agreement. That’s a document by which the siblings who aren’t providing care contribute compensation to the sibling who is handling the day-to-day care and support.
While it may be uncomfortable for siblings to pay one another, that kind of arrangement could also make it more feasible for your parent to stay in their home and to get care from someone they know, love and trust. If you opt for this strategy, make sure you create a formal, legal document and spell out every detail.
Ready to develop a long-term care strategy for your parents and yourself? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help your family develop and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.