Does long-term care planning always equal the need for a nursing home? No! In fact, prudent planning provides you the best potential of avoiding one. However, making those plans raises several questions.
Q: How can you best be prepared for a desirable care outcome for you or a loved one?
A: The good news is we are living longer. Improved medical technology has lengthened our lives. But with longer lives come the increased need for care. Just 25 years ago, if a person had a stroke or heart attack, he or she often would die. Today, more people survive. Also, Alzheimer’s disease is the leading reason people need long-term care services.
Q: What is long-term care?
A: Long-term care is needed assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and moving around or for dealing with a cognitive impairment that requires supervision.
Q: Where is care usually received, and what is the cost?
A: Home health care is what the vast majority of Americans choose. Nursing homes are the last resort. Home health care typically costs $18 to $20 per hour, and assisted living costs about $42,000 per year. Facility care today in North Carolina averages $78,000 per year (compared to $87,000 nationally).
Q: Will my retirement plan can pay for it?
A: Retirement plans pay for retirement, not long-term care. This results in the unintended need to spend principal and divert income. As a result, one of seniors’ greatest fears – that of outliving their assets – might become true.
Q: Does long-term care insurance make sense?
A: Long-term care insurance can provide greater choices in life while protecting and leveraging your assets. The product has two roles: Helping keep families together and allowing your retirement portfolio to grow to pay for your retirement.
Q: When should I buy a long-term insurance policy?
A: Ages 45 to 60 is the optimum time to apply, but up to age 70 usually is affordable. Ask your employer to add such coverage as a group discounted benefit.
Q: Who can help?
A: Seek a long-term care specialist. Consider his or her training, credentials and expertise. The key is whether he or she first talks first about a plan or a product. If he or she patiently asks good questions, plans according to your core values and budget and proposes an understandable solution, you are dealing with a professional. If he or she focuses first on product features and price and quickly tries to sell you a plan, consider getting another opinion.
Bob Land is president of Landmark Financial Services LLC in Rocky Mount.