By June Duncan, Rise Up for Caregivers
Financial planning is one of the keys to a fulfilling retirement. But your retirement plans should include considerations for your health too. Medicare is an indispensable benefit for senior health, but many adults do not realize that this benefit does little to cover long-term care needs. If you want to be prepared for any possibility and ensure you can pay for long-term care for yourself or a loved one, then you will want to add some extra steps to your retirement and financial planning. Here are some ways you can equip yourself to deal with the stress and financial costs involved with long-term care:
Include Long-Term Care in Your Financial Plans
Include Insurance in Your Planning – and Plan Early
The further away you are from retirement, the more options you may have to plan for long-term care costs. For one, you can adjust your retirement savings (like a 401k account) to include enough to offset long-term care costs. If you can afford it, long-term care insurance supplements can also help you safeguard your finances for long-term care costs. If you are thinking of getting life insurance, know that you can sell it down the road to take care of expenses. Both of these options can be more affordable if you begin looking for them when you are younger. Your premiums tend to be lower even in your 50s than they will be in your 60s, so start planning for your future care as soon as possible to save money.
Avoid Relying on Basic Medicare
If you are approaching retirement, knowing you will have Medicare in the future can take away some stress. Basic Medicare, however, may not be enough to ensure your healthcare costs are covered. In fact, most of the care involved in long-term care is not even considered medical care, and will not be covered by Medicare. One thing you can do, however, is look into different Medicare Advantage plans to offset some of your other medical costs. The Humana Medicare Advantage plans, for example, provide the same coverage as Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) and some plans may include additional benefits such as coverage for prescription drugs, dental and vision. If you do need long-term care, these plans also offer caregiver support services and a 24/7 nursing-advice line, which can come in handy in the future.
Determine Who Will Need Care
Know What Factors Lead to Long-Term Care
To accurately plan for long-term care costs, you need to know what can cause an adult to need care. Many of the conditions that carry the risk of needing extended care are passed down via your family’s genetics. Heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses can come from both sides of your family. If Alzheimer’s is present in the maternal side of your family, you may be more at risk for developing the debilitating condition yourself. Your age can have a lot to do with when you will need care as well, as can the presence of disabilities.
Take Time to Really Take Care of Yourself
Aside from family history and age, your lifestyle choices can also put you at more risk for needing intensive or extended long-term care. Lack of physical activity can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, which in turn puts you more at risk for falls and severe fall-related consequences. Falls can leave seniors unable to properly care for themselves, so you should make changes to your lifestyle to prevent them. Go for a few walks throughout the week, work on your balance with yoga, and make sure you are not skipping out on strength training. You can also make adjustments to your home to better manage your health. Removing fall hazards and increasing accessibility can help you age in place instead of in a nursing home.
To cover all the bases in your retirement plans, you need to make sure you can cover all of the costs of long-term care. Chances are, you or a loved one will need some sort of this care in the years ahead, so prepare yourself now. Figure out what kind of care your family may need and make changes accordingly so that long-term care doesn’t put a damper on your financial future.
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.
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