If you’re coming up on retirement, chances are that you thought about your long-term health and whether you would be able to remain independent or not. But if you have failed to fully fund your late-life endeavors, keep reading for information on ways to potentially reduce reliance on long-term care and how to pay for it if needed.
Will I need long-term care?
According to the Administration on Aging, approximately 70 percent of Americans age 65 and up will require assistance for three years or more. Nearly 40 percent will require nursing or assisted living accommodations for one year. Factors that determine your potential need include:
● Lifestyle – If you smoke, drink heavily, or fail to meet your body’s physical activity needs, you are more likely to be affected by an illnesses or disability that would require long-term medical treatment.
● Genetics – While research is ongoing, family history increases your chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, explains Medical News Today. The same is true for other debilitating diseases, such as cancer and Parkinson’s.
● Prior health conditions – If you’ve ever been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or stroke, you are also at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia.
Types of assistance needed
Your particular level of care will depend on the above factors and any conditions that arise later down the road. Many older adults can live happily in their homes with only minor modifications and part-time assistance from loved ones. Even if you suffer with moderate to severe cognitive decline or age-related mobility decline, you may still be able stay in your home thanks to technology and safety features, such as a walk in bathtub, wheelchair ramp, and electric stair lift.
Home modification prices run the gamut from cheap – grab bars may be installed in the bathroom for less than $100 – to costing a small fortune. An electric stair lift, for example, can run as high as $15,000 and won’t be covered by insurance or Medicare. Extensive renovations may require a licensed general contractor. Contact your local senior center or community resources agency to find out about charitable programs that may help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to home renovations, you may need housekeeping, medical, and daily-living assistance. If you are unable to remain in your home, you may require the services of an assisted living facility or skilled nursing program. Home health aides, which are compared to assisted nursing care, a relatively affordable option, can still run $30 or more per hour. All services must be deemed medically necessary before private or government-funded insurance kicks in.
Paying for care
Long-term health insurance is a great option to help you pay for assisted living and skilled nursing care. These types of policies, unlike traditional health insurance, were designed specifically to cover the cost of custodial and personal care. Another popular option is a reverse mortgage, which has its pros and cons. A reverse mortgage will help you get cash out of your home to cover the cost of your needs. On the downside, this type of financial decision can lower your heirs’ benefit and will become a debt for anyone living in the home once you pass on. Consumers Advocate recommends discussing your options with a financial counselor prior to making the decision.
Don’t let this financial burden sneak up on you. Consider your financial options to live comfortably.
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.