Are You Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care?
Long-term care might be the biggest retirement expense you didn’t plan for. 78% of U.S. adults will need some form of assistance as they age with out-of-pocket costs into the six figures.
If you haven’t saved for long-term care, it’s not too late. With the help of Outlook Wealth Advisors, you can prepare for long-term care costs and protect your retirement. Here’s how.
Long-Term Care By the Numbers
Most adults need some long-term care, but not every retiree faces a sky-high LTC bill. Only one in four adults need more than two years of long-term care, while the majority spend $50,000 or less on out-of-pocket long-term care costs.
Yet if you are among the 24% of Americans who require extended long-term care, the costs could dramatically alter your retirement plan. 16% of older adults will spend between $50,000 and $250,000 on LTC. For nearly one in the, total out-of-pocket costs exceed $250,000.
Who needs long-term care?
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are behind many high long-term care bills. The estimated lifetime cost of care for a person with dementia is over $320,000. While other seniors get by with relatively affordable home health care, adults with dementia frequently live in nursing homes where the median annual cost exceeds $100,000.
Other risk factors for long-term care include:
- Advanced age.
- Family history.
- Chronic illnesses.
- Mobility loss.
- Poor diet and exercise habits.
- Living alone.
- Limited support system
The role of the home in aging-in-place
Your home is another factor in the long-term care equation. A home that’s ill-equipped for senior living increases the risk of falls and makes everyday life more challenging for aging homeowners. Homes designed in accordance with the principles of universal design, on the other hand, facilitate independent living. This includes design elements such as zero-step entrances, wider doorways and hallways, and electrical receptacles that are reachable from all heights.
Outside of stairs and level changes, kitchens and bathrooms pose the greatest threat to independent aging. Curbless showers, counter-height appliances, and extra clearance space make these spaces navigable without a clinical feel. Of course, kitchen and bath remodels carry a hefty price tag. Research home remodeling near me to understand what these projects cost in your area and decide whether it’s more financially advantageous to remodel or relocate.
Paying for Long-Term Care
Whether you need a little long-term care or a lot, LTC will take a bite out of your retirement budget if you’re not prepared.
If you still have a few years before retirement, you still have time to save up via catch-up contributions to 401(k) and IRA plans. This is a good option for older adults who expect to need minimal paid care. Contributing only an extra $1,000 per year to an IRA between the ages of 50 and 60 could add an extra $35,000 to your savings by your 80s when most adults start to need care.
LTC insurance is another option, but don’t wait too long to buy a policy. Insurance premiums rise with age and, unlike health insurance, LTC insurers may deny applicants with preexisting conditions. The best time to purchase a policy is between the ages of 50 and 65 before developing serious health problems.
These days, many retirees are shying away from traditional long-term care insurance and opting for more flexible alternatives instead. Often called “hybrid” policies, these are life insurance policies and annuities that provide long-term care riders.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the possibility that you’ll need long-term care someday. It’s better to plan ahead and not need it than find yourself in need of long-term care without a way to pay. Contact us to discuss how long-term care planning fits into your retirement strategy.
Contributed by June Duncan, riseupforcaregivers.org