Planning for Long Term Care

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Protect yourself and your family by preparing before care is needed.

While you can’t predict when or the duration long term care will be needed, you can prepare yourself for its financial, practical, and emotional challenges. Care can sometimes be provided by family or friends but paid care often becomes a necessity. Whether care is provided at home or in a facility, for a few months or a few years, the costs quickly add up. But putting a financial plan in place now can help protect your assets and give peace of mind.

How do I create a plan?

Why should I bother planning for long term care?

  • Protect your retirement assets
  • Minimize dependence on family members and others
  • Control how, where, and from whom you receive care

Identify what financial options, including savings, will work for you and your family in paying for possible long term care costs. Learn about these options and whether they are right for you. For most people, there isn’t just one right answer. The best plan includes several elements. For example, you might look to family members to help out (if so, you should let them know your expectations now) but also plan to use personal savings, a long term care insurance policy or a reverse mortgage. A plan that includes a combination of financial options is likely to be the best approach. Once you’ve identified the options, begin taking steps to learn more about and secure these resources. For example, if you plan to have family members help you, talk to them about your expectations. If you think long term care insurance will be worthwhile, shop around for the best policy (you can use our checklist to help).

Do I really need to worry about possible long term care costs?

As life expectancy continues to increase, most of us will eventually need assistance, provide assistance, or both.

  • Long term care isn’t just about the elderly. About 40% of care recipients are people under the age of 65 who have suffered an accident or illness.
  • Family members are often far away or busy with other responsibilities and careers, increasing the need for professional help.

How can I determine my potential for needing long term care?

Consider the following factors in assessing your risk.

  • Age: The older you are or expect to be, the greater the probability that you’ll need care.
  • Marital status: Single people tend to require more paid care, since they generally have fewer family resources.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to need care because they tend to live longer.
  • Lifestyle: Diet, exercise, and other behaviors (riding a motorcycle or smoking, for example) can affect your risk of health problems and accidents.
  • Family health history: Those who are genetically predisposed to long term illness are more likely to need care

Learn more about all the ways to pay for long term care.

References: Caregiving in the U.S., National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 2004; Guide to Long Term Care Insurance, America’s Health Insurance Plans, July 2004, Miles Away-The Metlife Study of Long Distance Caregiving, Mature Market Institute Metlife, July 2004.

Tools and Calculators

  • Cost of Care

    Get a rough estimate of the cost of long term care based on age, location, and other factors.

  • Long Term Savings

    Figure out how much you’ll need to save to cover the anticipated cost of long term care.