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The Cost Of Living Longer
Every day we see clients for whom long-term care is the elephant in the room. They feel they can’t afford the costs, but they also feel they can’t afford not to have it either. So their solution is to pretend not to see the “elephant” and try to ignore the problem until it goes away on its own. Unfortunately, this often leads to our metaphorical elephant trampling on his life savings and any future legacies he tries to leave behind. The older you are, the more expensive a long-term care policy is, and if you get sick before you have long-term care protection in place, it’s too late. Insurance companies watch their bottom line, and an already sick elderly person will scare them away.
The costs of these policies are also rising faster than inflation. Herein lies the conundrum for baby boomers and seniors: they live longer than their parents and that means they need more money to survive “old age”. Finding long-term care is a difficult and complicated process. You’ll need to find a place that deals with people with your (or your loved one’s) situation. You need to find a place with the right facilities and staff, a place that leaves you feeling good and safe. And you also have to be able to afford it. This is not some sort of unique situation. Everyone has their own specific services and conditions that they or their loved ones will have to respect. Remember, what we call “long-term care” is a broad category, with options ranging from residences to your own home.
The biggest threat to the financial security of baby boomers and seniors is the cost of long-term care (and Obamacare won’t help with that). Assisted living facilities are now climbing towards the $7,500 per month mark and a private room in a retirement home will cost between $500 and $600 one day.
Many people choose to live in retirement communities where they can still be in charge of their own daily lives, but without the many usual stresses of maintaining their own home. This option tends to be a little more expensive than living in your own home, but it does provide the opportunity to “age in place”. Residents live in their own apartment and can increase their service levels as needed. For example: fully independent living, adding visits from health workers, even in skilled nursing facilities in the community.
The cheapest option is of course still home healthcare, but it also has its other advantages: it doesn’t require you to move, your mortgage is probably already paid off and you already know where everything is. Unfortunately, the cost of home health care is also rising and may be more than many people think when it comes time to pay. Fortunately, there are community health care programs that can help with home care for those who qualify.
Some seniors have chosen to purchase long-term care insurance to cover these costs, but it’s also becoming more expensive as companies raise their rates while reducing their coverage. Additionally, this insurance is getting more complicated as it now has to cover things like surviving spouse protection, caregiver issues, scams/identity theft, and making sure you have an advocate to defend your rights in a system that is biased. against you.
In short, we are living longer, and unlike previous generations, people generally do not live with or even near their children. Seniors will need more money to live longer and for any unforeseen medical issues that may arise.
Do you know what is the fastest way for a Boomer or Senior couple to become an impoverished Boomer or Senior couple? Simple, one of them just has to get sick before getting long term care insurance. We see it every day, people who have worked hard and saved money all their lives are bound to see it disappear in a flood of medical bills as they get older. It’s really heartbreaking, because if you managed to save the money, you probably could have afforded long-term care.
Our life expectancy is increasing these days, as are the cost of health care, the distance between the elderly and their children and families, and financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid. New Affordable Care Act actually provides $500 billion in health insurance cuts over the next decade! Who do you turn to if you or your spouse fall ill? Home care? Adult daycare? Help with life? A retirement home ? Respite services, which allow the caregiver to drop off the senior for a limited time? Who will pay for this? And for how long ? These are the questions to ask yourself now, while you still have time to plan. If you didn’t buy long-term care before you or your spouse got sick… forget it. No one will insure you once you are sick! If this happens to you, you will run out of time, options, and money very quickly. And if you’ve planned to bequeath something to your heirs, there might just be a stack of bills left to bequeath to them.
It’s an old (but true) cliché: those who don’t plan plan to fail. When it comes to healthcare expenses as you get older, you don’t plan to risk yourself and those you love.
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