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Don’t Let Long-Term Care Needs Take You By Surprise

Don’t Let Long-Term Care Needs Take You By Surprise

One of the most pressing concerns for seniors is ensuring they have adequate health insurance, especially since the government is providing less and less and the cost is going up and up. Long-term care is one area that is taking many seniors by surprise.

There has been a longstanding gap between the long-term care needs of seniors and what’s really covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Of course, the latest restrictions that limit the availability of nursing home coverage through Medicare doesn’t help. The bottom line is that seniors simply can’t afford to ignore this issue and let it take them by surprise.

Of course, finances are going to greatly impact the approach to long-term care.

Sadly, those with a minimal income and assets have few affordable options available to them. They will usually quickly go through their limited funds and qualify for Medicaid rather easily.

On the other hand, those with incomes over $75,000 a year and that have over $500,000 worth of assets are facing an endless cycle of out of pocket expenses. Even those that have planned well for the future can watch as their nest egg drastically depreciates from years of long-term care expenses. A nursing home bed alone can cost thousands of dollars each month. Purchasing long-term care insurance to pay for these costs is a prudent choice for this group.

A third group is the middle class. This group is comprised of those with moderate incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 and assets not exceeding a few hundred thousand dollars. This group often isn’t well off enough to afford long-term care insurance, but is too well off to quickly qualify for Medicaid. Long-term care needs of one unhealthy spouse can eat away at savings to the point that a healthy spouse is left impoverished for the remainder of his/her life.

If the funds simply aren’t there to buy long-term care insurance, there are some other options. For example, an existing life insurance policy may be sold through a life settlement, a reverse mortgage, or simply downgrading homes can all be additional sources of money. None of these may be pleasant thoughts, but they are methods that can free up cash for long-term care needs. However, it may be a smart decision to use these new funds to purchase long-term care insurance instead of paying long-term care costs directly out of pocket.

The benefits of assisted living facilities, nursing home care, and skilled and custodial home healthcare are invaluable. And there are many issues, from emotional to financial, that influence how long-term care needs are addressed. More often than not, when a spouse, parent, or loved one is no longer able to care for themselves, the healthy spouse, child, or relative isn’t so quick to spend savings on caregivers and skilled nursing care. Instead, the healthy person risks their own health to care for their incapacitated loved one. This can create a serious physical or emotional burden that words cannot describe.

When early steps are taken to ensure appropriate long-term care is available, life can be much easier for the senior and their family. With appropriate long-term care planning, the spouse, child, and so forth may focus their energy on providing attention and love instead of completely altering their life to become a primary caregiver.

Predicting what future medical needs will be is impossible in most cases. Some seniors may never reach the point that they need long-term care needs. However, statistics show that almost half of all senior citizens will eventually need nursing home care. Even those that don’t require nursing home care will usually still require some type of skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled assistance. So, it’s vital to protect your health, as well as the health of your family, by planning ahead for these times of uncertainty.

Long-Term Care Knows No Financial Distinction

Long-Term Care Knows No Financial Distinction

Ensuring adequate health care is one of the top concerns for seniors. With costs skyrocketing and government purse strings tightening, planning for long-term care has never been more important. Don’t let the costs of long-term care take you by surprise.

In the area of long-term care, there is a huge gap between what seniors need and what Medicare and Medicaid cover. Combine that with new restrictions limiting the availability of Medicaid nursing home coverage, and it’s clear to see that seniors and those nearing retirement simply can’t afford to ignore this important issue.

While your approach to long-term care may vary depending on your economic situation, the benefits of custodial and skilled nursing in-home care, assisted living facilities and nursing home care know no financial distinction. Unfortunately, for those with low incomes and little assets there are few choices. Most likely, should the need for long-term care arise, you’ll quickly spend down your assets and easily qualify for Medicaid.

For those with an annual incomes exceeding $75,000 and with assets of $500,000 or more, you could simply pay for it out of pocket. But with nursing homes costing thousands of dollars a month and some seniors needing years of care, even a well-lined nest egg could experience a drastic drop in value. A more prudent approach would be to purchase long-term care insurance and use that to pay for any long-term care you or your spouse may need.

The real quandary is for those of moderate means, with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 and assets of a few hundred thousand dollars or less. Long-term care needs could gut your life savings and impoverish the healthy spouse. But long-term care insurance can be very expensive and hard for these seniors to afford.

If purchasing long-term care insurance isn’t an option, there are still some strategies you can use to cover yourself. Selling your life insurance policy, called a life settlement, is one option. Reverse mortgages can also free up needed cash. Selling your home, however unpleasant that may be, can also provided needed funds. But in all of these strategies it is better to leverage those proceeds by using them to buy long-term care insurance, if possible.

For now, let’s consider some issues that will greatly influence how you address your long-term care needs. The reality is that when someone is no longer able to care for themselves, usually the healthy spouse (if there is one) will take over. Regardless of wealth, few people are quick to dip into their savings to hire nurses or other caregivers to help out.

Often, the result is that the healthy spouse sacrifices their own health and well-being to care for the sick spouse. The caregiver becomes exhausted and emotionally spent trying to meet the overwhelming needs of their spouse.  Sometimes adult children can step in to help shoulder the burden. You may know some families who have lived this for years, with sons and daughters spoon feeding their parents and changing their diapers. The emotional toll on the family in these situations is indescribable.

Life can be so much easier when seniors take active steps to provide for this type of care properly. The family can spend their emotional and physical strength on cherishing their loved one, without disrupting their own lives in the process.

No one can predict what their needs will be as life draws to a close, but the fact remains that nearly half of all seniors will need nursing home care and those who don’t, are likely to require at least some outside help.  Be smart and plan now for how you’re going to provide for your long-term care. Your health, and the health of your loved ones, depends on it.