You may not want to consider a time when you might not be able to fully take care of yourself, but the reality is there is almost a 70% chance someone turning 65 today will need some type of long-term care service and support in his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Even if you’ve worked hard to save for retirement and create the financial security you want in the future, the need for long-term care could throw a wrench into even the most well-thought-out plans and impact you and your loved ones’ finances.
Consider these questions as you begin the long-term care planning process.
What is long-term care?
Different from traditional medical care that treats illnesses and injuries, long-term care includes services designed to help you maintain your quality of life and perform everyday activities even if age, illness, injury or a severe cognitive impairment make it a challenge to take care of yourself for an extended period of time. Long-term care services help with common daily functions including dressing, bathing and eating, and even skilled nursing services such as giving medication.
When should you start thinking about long-term care planning?
Because you never know when a need for care may arise, planning for care when you are younger and healthier can provide additional options as you’re more likely to qualify for coverage. Plus, cost is based on your age when you apply, so waiting can end up costing you more. Some people are beginning to plan as early as in their 40s.
How much does it cost?
Long-term care costs vary depending on where you live, the type of care provided and the setting. Home-care services average $24-$135 per hour, according to the New York Life Cost of Care Survey, while private rooms in nursing homes can cost more than $100,000 a year.
Long-term care is generally not covered by health insurance, and government programs like Medicare or Medicaid have limitations, which often isn’t discovered until care is needed. However, some companies, including New York Life, offer long-term care options to AARP members or other groups, and provide specially trained agents who can provide guidance. The agents can work with you and your family to create a customized plan based on your financial goals, helping protect your assets.
Where is care provided?
Long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings, including at home, in an assisted-living facility or in a nursing home depending on the amount and type of care needed. In fact, some insurance plans cover care on a part-time basis by a family member or home health worker. Planning ahead can allow for more control over how and where you receive care.
How much coverage do you need?
The amount of coverage you need typically varies based on several considerations including budget, age, the type of care expected and how much of your assets and income you may be willing to use to offset the care costs. You don’t have to cover your entire risk – choosing a modest amount of coverage can still provide benefits and help protect other assets.
While planning for long-term care can seem daunting, you can find more benefits and information to make the process easier at aarp.org/benefits.