How to Predict Long-Term Care Needs and Five Ways to Cover the Costs

The time to begin planning for your long-term care is yesterday. No matter your age right now you will get older – that is a fact. And with that comes greater risk for physical illness, disability and cognitive decline. Taking the time now to plan for your future long-term care needs could help you save headaches and money in the long run.

How to start planning for the probable

According to Huffington Post, while only 40 percent of those aged 65 and older will need long-term care in a nursing home facility, a greater majority (around 70 percent) will need some sort of long-term care. Long-term care can involve in-home help (nurses, housekeepers), home mobility modifications, technological assistance and more. While it is not guaranteed that you will need long-term care or what form it will take, there is enough of a chance that it deserves planning and consideration.

Begin to plan your needs for long-term care by checking off risk factors. For example, if you suffer from a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s, your need for long-term care is certain. Other factors include chronic health issues, family history of disease, obesity, poor diet, smoking and current disability.

Five Ways to Pay for It
The costs of long-term care can sneak up on you, especially if you need in-home or offsite nursing care. While many find themselves dipping into savings, retirement and cashing out stocks and other holdings to cover the costs, there are some other ways to go about it.

1. Unpaid care. This is the one you cannot bank on, even though “nearly 60 percent of older people who need long-term nursing or personal care rely fully on unpaid caregivers, usually their children or spouses,” according to Harvard Health. Still, talk to your family. If they plan to provide some sort of assistance when you need it, at least you can factor that into your true cost planning. 
2. Supplemental Medicare coverage: Since Medicare does not typically cover the costs of long-term care (some short-term care at times), you could research something like a Humana Medicare Advantage plan. This type of plan is a supplemental plan to help obtain the same coverage as Medicare (Part A and Part B) in addition to benefits such as prescriptions, dental, vision, fitness services, caregiver support and a 24/7 nursing advice line.
3. State Medicaid programs: The majority of state-based Medicaid programs, unlike Medicare, will help pay for long-term care services including visiting nursing care at home and nursing home stays. Though you must have a lower income level to apply for Medicaid, there are ways to qualify before you deplete your other resources (a Medicaid-proof trust, for instance).
4. Long-term care insurance: These specific plans are designed to help cover the costs of long-term care due to illness or injury. If you have a high probability of needing care in the future, buying one of these plans may be the smart idea. 
5. Reverse mortgage: At its core, a reverse mortgage is simply someone paying you for equity in your home. You can then use this money to help with long-term care costs. Though not right for everyone, this strategy is becoming more common.

Finally, don’t forget that planning for long-term care also means planning for what could happen if you are unable to make you own decisions anymore. Figure out your medical wishes, discuss them with your family and look into completing an advanced directive. It’s better for you, your family and your pocketbook to begin the planning process today.



 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.