Six Questions Seniors Should Ask About Insurance, Retirement and Long-Term Care
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By Jim McKinley
More than 90 percent of people over 65 would prefer to age in place, remaining in their homes rather than move into a retirement community or independent living facility, according to AARP. However, this means older adults and their family members need to begin preparing and planning payment for long-term care. It might be hard to see the need for long-term care now, but it’s a physically, emotionally and financially draining situation that you don’t want sneaking up on you. When you are ready to start talking about your future care, you will have a lot of questions. Here are a few answers to help guide your planning.
Questions to Ask About Planning for Long-Term Care - Including Modifications
Planning for the potential of long-term care early may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the sooner you begin to plan, the better prepared you can be. Even if you never wind up needing long-term care, planning can still be beneficial. You may end up needing some minor home modifications or occasional in-home help. Having planned for the worst-case scenario means you are better prepared for the best case.
You can plan for long-term care by asking these questions:
- What is the likelihood that you will need long-term care? While no one can predict the future, you may have a higher risk of needing long-term care if you are currently dealing with a chronic illness or injury, have a family history of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, or live too far away from family members for regular caregiving help.
- Can you make some lifestyle choices now that would lower your chance of needing long-term care? Studies show a sedentary lifestyle leads to mental and physical decline, and older adults are at further risk. For example, if you want to lower your risk of heart attack, make the lifestyle choice to exercise at least 30 minutes every day. That one simple change can help with weight management, which can lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Starting a daily meditation practice can help aging adults manage stress and anxiety, which can prolong the onset of memory issues like dementia.
- Do you have a plan for future home modifications? If aging in place is important to you, a plan for long-term care means you may be able to stay in your home longer. Even if you don’t need long-term care, your home will likely need several modifications to ensure you live safely and independently. Plan for changes you might need to make if you have two stories, a large backyard, narrow hallways and poor lighting.
Questions to Ask About Paying for Long-Term Care - Including Insurance
The expenses for long-term care can have a pretty wide range depending on your needs. For instance, you may only need part-time help or you may need support 24/7. If you ask the right questions about your options well in advance, you are more able to scale your finances.
Looking at your financial horizon, you should ask:
- Can you sell a life insurance policy? You may be able to pay for some if not all of the daily expenses and medical support that comes with long-term care by selling a life insurance policy. If you need cash in hand to pay for home modifications, medical equipment or a caregiver, selling a policy can be a swift means to needed funds.
- When will you retire? Knowing when you will retire allows you to budget your cash flow now to save for the future. You can decide how much of a cushion you want to create in case long-term care needs arise. If you still have a ways to go, consider starting a 401k or savings just for these potential costs.
- What will Medicare cover? Medicare will cover many important tests, equipment and services for older adults, but it is not an all-encompassing plan. You may want to consider purchasing supplemental insurance to limit your out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Talking to your insurance provider one-on-one about your options can help you navigate the complex work of health insurance.
Planning and paying for long-term care may be a challenging conversation for some. But if avoided, a challenge now could turn into a crisis in the future. Having a plan in place won’t protect you from every situation, but it can give you an invaluable sense of security – something everyone deserves in their golden years.