If recent projections are correct, odds are good that you’ll need long-term care at some point in retirement. 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.
Not all forms of long-term care are the same, though. It can be provided in a facility or nursing home by nurses or other professional caregivers. It can also be provided in the home by a health aide or family member. Care can include medical treatment, or it can simply be supportive custodial assistance. Your care should be unique to your specific needs.
Of course, it’s difficult to plan for long-term care costs when you don’t know what kind of care you will need. You can’t predict your future health challenges. However, you can develop a projection of potential costs by understanding all the possible types of long-term care. Below are a few common forms of long-term care:
For many seniors, the need for long-term care evolves over time. They start out needing support with simple tasks like meal preparation, cleaning or running errands. As their health issues progress, they need more hands-on assistance with things such as mobility or bathing.
In the early stages of your care need, you may be able to count on a spouse, family member or even a friend for assistance. A group of loved ones may be able to pool their time to provide a full schedule of support.
If you have family members who can help, consider yourself fortunate. Also consider, though, that this level of free care may not last forever. 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 that’s too much for your adult children 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.
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.
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.
Do you have a strategy to pay for long-term care? If not, let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Bridgeriver Advisors. We can help you develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
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