by Hazel Bridges
Long-term care is one of the largest
expenses seniors face in retirement. Unlike living expenses, there’s
no way to know exactly what long-term care will cost you. However,
you shouldn’t let unpredictability stop you from preparing for this
important expense. Planning for long-term care costs is one of the
smartest things you can do to ensure you’re cared for in old age.
These are five questions you need to
ask as you think about long-term care.
I need long-term care?
According to Morningstar, 52
percent of today’s 65-year-olds will need long-term
care in their lifetime. For the majority, long-term care needs will
be brief: On average, women require 2.5 years of care and men 1.5
years. Only 14 percent require long-term care services longer than
These factors increase your likelihood
of needing care:
- Being female.
- A long lifespan.
- Living alone.
- A personal history of health
- A family history of hereditary
- Poor lifestyle habits.
can I reduce my long-term care needs?
There are things you can do to reduce
your risk of needing long-term care or minimize the amount of care
you need such as:
- Modify your home: An unsafe
home increases the risk of becoming disabled from a fall. If your
home isn’t accessible for people with disabilities, you may be
unable to return home after an illness or injury.
- Strengthen your support
network: Without a support network, you have to rely on paid
caregivers for assistance. Moving closer to family or strengthening
your local support system means you can call on loved ones for minor
- Improve your lifestyle: A
healthy, active lifestyle is important at every age. You can reduce
your risk of disability by eating a healthy
diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a social life
and avoiding excessive alcohol
- Upgrade your insurance: Once
you’re 65, you’ll qualify for Medicare benefits, but
supplementing these benefits with a Medicare Advantage plan can be a
help. Providers like Anthem Blue Cross and others
offer plans that cover dental, vision, and hearing care, membership
to wellness programs, and prescription drugs.
are the long-term care options?
The long-term care costs you’ll incur
depend on the type of care you need. These are the most common
long-term care solutions along with average
- Adult day care ($18,720):
Non-residential day care for seniors living in the community.
- Assisted living ($48,000):
Residential care with light assistance for daily activities,
household tasks, and medical support.
- Home care ($50,336): Care
services provided in a senior’s home, which could include personal
care, companionship and household help.
- Memory care ($60,000): A
type of assisted living designed for seniors with dementia.
- Nursing home ($89,297
semi-private room; $100,375 private room): Residential care with
24/7 support for personal and medical needs.
Paying for Long-Term
will long-term cost?
A person who is 65 today can expect to
in long-term care costs. Seniors diagnosed with dementia are one big
exception: lifetime care costs for a senior with dementia can be
hundreds of thousands, and a lot of those costs must be paid
can I pay for long-term care expenses?
Outside of short-term, rehabilitative
stays in skilled nursing facilities, Medicare does not pay for
long-term care. While Medicare will pay for medical services in a
long-term care setting, non-medical or custodial services are not
more about what Medicare does and does not cover at
Without Medicare coverage, seniors and
their families must find other ways to pay for long-term care. Common
- Long-term care insurance:
Long-term care insurance provides coverage specifically for
custodial care services. Long-term care insurance premiums are
costly, but adults can save by purchasing a policy in
- Savings and investments:
Rather than buying an insurance policy, individuals can self-insure
by increasing retirement savings.
- Personal assets: Seniors
can sell or surrender a whole life insurance policy, apply for a
reverse mortgage or sell a home. If selling a home, use a home-value
estimate to ensure the home’s value is enough
to pay for long-term care.
- Medicaid: Low-income
seniors with few assets can receive long-term care coverage through
As you can see, long-term care is a
major expense. If you’re not financially prepared, an illness or
disability could derail your entire retirement. Whether you’re 45
or 65, it’s not too late to start preparing your finances for