Today’s Planning Means Tomorrow’s Comfort and Stability
Planning for the future is a scary thing, especially if money is a concern. Keep reading for ideas to consider when planning for long-term care and how to pay for it using your life insurance policy.
Will I need care?
It’s really not a question of if you’ll need care in your senior years, but it’s more of a question of when and how much. Although, as Assisted Senior Living points out, people are living longer – and healthier – lives than ever before. However, there will come a time when doing things we take for granted now, such as cleaning the gutters and grocery shopping, become dangerous.
There is no way to predict with certainty who will need long-term, custodial care. A few signs that it’s time to consider the possibility include:
Difficulty with day-to-day tasks – If you or your senior loved one are no longer able to perform everyday functions to run a household and keep yourself safe, assisted living is an option that can help you retain your independence.
More frequent health problems or accidents – Loss of mobility and impaired cognition can make it more difficult to keep yourself healthy. An increase in frequency of accidents such as falling down the stairs or tripping over area rugs or health problems including cancer or dementia may necessitate supervised care in a skilled nursing facility. ScienceDirect offers the statistics of at-home injuries common among seniors.
Isolation – Seniors are, not surprisingly, one of the loneliest demographics out there. Depression is common among widows/widowers and can lead to greater health problems including poor nutrition and neglected hygiene.
Family history of disease along with poor lifestyle choices are major contributors to our needs as we age. A few genetic disorders include cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and high blood pressure. Any of these can make the likelihood of custodial care a reality by our 65th birthday. Unhealthy lifestyle choices that can contribute to disease include eating a diet high in sugar and saturated fats, smoking, drinking, being sexually promiscuous, and failing to exercise throughout your life.
If you’re over all healthy, there’s a good chance that you’ll spend six years or more in a continuing care retirement community. Alzheimer’s and other health conditions can shorten this length but will require more extensive and thus more expensive care.
Life insurance can pay for...life
No matter your age, it’s not too late to consider the type of care you’ll need and how to pay for it. Many seniors are surprised to find that their life insurance contains money that can be used now to cover the cost of assisted for independent living or skilled nursing care. The process, known as a life settlement, is available to seniors with both term and universal, or whole, life policies. It should be noted that the minimum face value eligible for a life settlement is $50,000. Selling life insurance is a great option that can help you – or your loved ones – finance end-of-life expenses including medical care. This is especially important since Medicare does not pay for long-term residential care.
Before you make the decision to sell your life insurance policy, you should consider other potential forms of payment including the liquidation of any assets you no longer need. This may include your primary and vacation homes, vehicles, and stocks and bonds. If you are low income, Medicaid may cover the cost of care but won’t provide for comfort items that will improve your quality of life.
It’s not uncommon to get caught off guard by the high price of care. But if you have insurance, you have resources that can help cover the cost of living.
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.