Americans are living longer than ever before, and with continually rising health care costs, the need for a long-term care solution becomes more of a “when” than an “if” situation, according to financial experts, who warn that Americans are largely waiting too long to plan and prepare.
“Many people wait until they’re in their 50s or 60s before beginning long-term care planning, but with costs rising, it’s important to start planning when you’re younger and healthy,” says Heather Deichler, senior vice president, MoneyGuard product management, Lincoln Financial.
To get prepped, consider these tips from Lincoln Financial:
• Plan early: Only about 7.5 million people in the U.S. have policies that pay long-term care benefits, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, but more than half of Americans turning 65 are projected to need some type of long-term care in the future. This disparity could be due to the fact that many underestimate long-term care costs and expect to rely on savings or Medicare and Medicaid to cover them.
Those in the know — financial planners — see medical/healthcare costs and long-term care expenses as bigger risks to retirees’ savings than spending too much, inflation or the economy. Indeed, a majority of consumers in a recent survey conducted by Versta Research on behalf of Lincoln Financial guess that a private room in a nursing home costs less than half the realistic estimate.
Others may simply feel their good health exempts them from the need to plan at all. But living a healthy lifestyle could mean you’ll live longer and face health-related risks associated with aging.
Being realistic about the possibility your future could involve long-term care and the true costs associated with it can help you plan accordingly and motivate you to get started early.
• Get on the same page as your family: Having a long-term care conversation with loved ones can help you feel confident about your future and help avoid conflict among family members. Share your expectations for daily living, such as how and where you want to receive care. This is a good time to identify who will be responsible for your financial and medical affairs should you become unable to manage them.
• Consult a financial professional: A financial professional can help you get a handle on your financial future and make you aware of all your options, including those that evolve with your needs. They may point you to solutions that can help cover qualified long-term care expenses. Some solutions can offer more options and flexibility with a guaranteed level of protection and the possibility for investment growth. For example, in addition to obtaining care in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you could have the flexibility to receive care at home, including from family members.
Comprehensive long-term care planning with family members and a financial professional now can help ensure everyone is prepared for the emotional and financial decisions that may need to be made in the years ahead.
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