Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care: A Comprehensive Guide

When you think about retirement, you may think about Medicare and your 401K. But are you really thinking about your health and whether you will need long-term care? Planning for long-term care expenses for you or a family member can give you financial peace of mind at any age. Here are some points to consider.


Anticipating Your Need for Long-Term Care   

Factoring in Family History and Habits

If you are still a healthy older adult, you may not think about whether you will someday need long-term care. But thinking critically about your health, family history, and habits can give you a little insight into whether you will need long-term care in the future. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this could be an indicator that you will need care when you are older. However, even those who take care of their health and have a strong family medical history may need long-term care in the future. Some statistics show that the majority of people will need some form of long-term healthcare, whether it’s home care or an assisted living center, at some point in their lifetime. So planning for long-term care makes sense for everyone, regardless of age, health, or habits.

Protecting Your Health

While you may never be able to completely negate the need for long-term care, you may be able to take steps to lessen your chances of needing it or, at least, extend the time you can go without long-term care. Staying active and eating healthy are proven methods for managing your health and fighting off serious disease. In fact, exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of falls, which is one of the leading causes of serious injury for older adults. Falls send millions of adults to the hospital each year and often lead to the need for long-term care, so make modifications to your lifestyle to get the exercise you need to prevent fall-related injuries. You may also be able to make modifications around your home to prevent falls and make life easier as you age in place. Simple changes, like adding grab bars in the shower and installing non-slip flooring, can make a big difference as you get older.


Budgeting for Care

Paying for Unexpected Expenses: From Insurance to Home Equity

In many cases, the need for long-term care comes as a surprise. Very few people plan for long-term care when they are planning out their retirement expenses, and they end up blindsided when an injury or illness occurs. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few options to help you pay for the care that you, or a loved one, needs. If you have life insurance, you may be able to sell your policy to free up cash for care costs. Selling your life insurance can give you the funds you need to cover daily expenses, medical care, or any other costs associated with long-term care. Another viable option is to use the equity in your home to pay for expenses. From reverse mortgages to loans, homeowners have a few more options when it comes to meeting unexpected medical needs.

Creating a Comprehensive Retirement Plan

If you are a bit younger and healthy, you have the advantage of being able to plan for your healthcare costs. While your costs may still be low now, keep in mind that age has a way of driving healthcare costs up. So, it’s smart to plan for those costs now to prevent added stress in the future. You may be able to adjust your retirement savings plan to account for long-term care expenses or even begin setting aside funds specifically to cover care. While Medicare may be available when you are 65 or older, know that it doesn’t cover everything. You should take time now to learn about supplemental plans that may cover the costs of additional medical care, as well as copayments and deductibles, for you and your loved one. If you have the means, long-term care insurance may be a good option, but coverage can be expensive.


Factoring long-term care into your future is a good move to make when you are shaping your retirement plans. Even if you never need it, knowing how to pay for long-term care can give you some peace of mind when it comes to making plans for your future.