It is impossible to avoid getting older, which is why elder care planning is such an important part of staying financially prepared. Whether it’s for your own future or that of a loved one, the sooner you start planning for the essentials of elder care, the more protected you and your family will be in the long run.
Picturing the future is always difficult. You never know what might come to pass, and your needs will sometimes unpredictably change. Being prepared — financially and emotionally — gives you the confidence it takes to face the future and live happily with aging. Readiness is vital for our financial security, providing for us through accidents, illnesses and injuries.
Almost everyone will end up needing help in one area or another as they age, whether it’s with household chores or personal care needs. With aging, stairs become a safety issue, medical bills are harder to manage, and cooking healthy meals can get to be more trouble than it once was.
So, how do we anticipate the help we might need and factor it into our elder care plan? Everybody is different, but you should account for the following:
- Healthy meals.
As your body slows down, you might not be able to cook three nutritious meals a day. Meal delivery programs can help, and grocery stores also have online ordering and pickup. You might hire a caregiver or someone in your support network to cook for you, or a group of friends could share cooking duties with a potluck each week, providing leftovers.
- Chores and household tasks.
Keeping a clean house can be difficult even for the young, so you should consider who can help with things like laundry and yard work. There are all kinds of caregivers that can help with chores — it’s best to account for their potential services when you make your financial plan.
- Personal care.
It may be the case that you need help dressing or bathing as you age. Trained aides, caregivers and support systems can also help you with these daily tasks.
- Health care.
Consider hiring someone to keep your medication organized and on schedule. Have accessibility and safety options installed where you live, and keep an emergency binder with your hospital records and health information.
Keeping a clean house can be difficult even for the young, so you should consider who can help with things like laundry and yard work.
Some people may want a network of caregivers to fulfill their needs at home, while still others will require senior living centers that take care of everything for them. Living expenses are a large part of your elder care plan, so it’s important to know your housing options:
- Nursing homes.
These are elder care centers for anyone who requires around-the-clock care and attention. While it is not the easiest thing to imagine, nursing home living is a realistic possibility — and they cost almost twice as much as home-care alternatives. Keep track of yearly nursing home costs to account for them in your financial plan.
- Assisted living.
Assisted living communities are like nursing homes but try to mirror the flexibility of independent living. This hybrid solution gives you access to a network of nurses, a safe environment, well-balanced meals and a social circle of peers. These facilities are also the least expensive of your housing options.
- Aging in place
If you don’t want to leave a house you’ve already paid off, there is an elder care plan called aging in place — seniors who stay safely in the homes they have lived in for decades. With the right amount of planning, a home can be modified for aging in place, like bypassing a staircase or making bathrooms more accessible, while a support network of professionals and loved ones can be established for in-home care. Less expensive than nursing homes but more than assisted living, this lifestyle is best for people with a strong support system and good health.
Some people will have no choice but to move to a nursing home if they have degenerative conditions, while others will not be admitted if they do not qualify for that level of care. Plans change and everyone is different, so check in often with your financial professional to keep your funds on track, whatever your needs end up being.
With the right amount of planning, a home can be modified for aging in place, like bypassing a staircase or making bathrooms more accessible.
All these costs add up quickly. Aging and long-term care is expensive, especially if you factor in disability or illness. Retirement money disappears quickly in the face of a chronic or critical conditions, and accidents can deplete your funds and plunge you into debt. The best financial plan is one that accounts for worst case scenarios — if we are fortunate enough to avoid these, it only leaves more savings on the table.
Elder care planning is about making sure you have enough money to afford future health issues and still maintain your standard of living. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security once eased the financial burden of aging, but today, the economy has changed. Health insurance is complex and has too many coverage gaps, while the benefits of these social services have shrunk.
However, there is a solution: you should already have life insurance in place to protect your family’s finances after you’re gone — but did you know that some policies have benefits you can use as you age? Living benefits can cover these elder care expenses during your lifetime. Some pay out in the event of terminal disease, chronic illness or critical injury, while others build cash value on a tax deferred basis that can be used for any expenses, from caregivers to nursing homes.
Life insurance has always been about protecting your future and allowing you peace of mind. These days, it has evolved beyond the death benefit into a financial tool that can support you in old age. With this kind of flexibility and protection, life insurance with living benefits is an essential solution for elder care planning. Meet with your financial professional today about your elder care plan, and your future self will thank you.
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