The Montana Estate Lawyer

Friday, October 19, 2018

Long-Term Care: Planning and Paying for Your Eventual Needs

America’s population is living longer, and with longer lives come increasing healthcare needs. When it comes to your future long-term care needs, you have about a 50/50 chance of needing some form of care. Yet, despite the eventuality of long-term care needs, most Americans are wildly unprepared for the steep costs that come with them -- costs that are sure to rise

And while Medicare is a valuable source of support for seniors and their healthcare costs, these plans do not pay for long-term care. Even Medicare Advantage Plans that include benefits for prescriptions, dental, vision, fitness services, caregiver support, and a 24/7 nursing advice line will not pay for custodial care. Preparing for your long-term care needs ahead of time can protect your finances while giving your more options, which is why it’s important to do research (including taking note of Medicare open enrollment dates and requirements) and plan ahead.

Preparing for Long-Term Care Needs

When assessing the likelihood of you needing long-term care, it’s best to avoid worrying about what the future holds and instead do what you can to prevent your need for extensive medical care. Reducing your risk of injury or the onset of illness is just as important as creating a savings plan for healthcare costs. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to do this. 


  • Avoid risky behaviors like smoking, binge drinking, and using drugs. These nasty habits can do serious damage to your internal organs, leading to a lower quality of life as you age into your golden years. 
  • Exercise regularly. A balanced workout routine, including cardio exercises and resistance training, will maintain your weight and prevent muscle loss for a strong and healthy body for years to come. 
  • A healthy diet reduces your chances of developing cancer among other chronic illnesses. Focus on eating meals centered around fresh and simple ingredients. 

While a healthy lifestyle is important, it’s not the only way to prepare for long-term care needs. If you are buying or own a house in which you plan to age-in-place, making home

modifications for accessibility can allow you to receive in-home care. Not only is this type of care more comfortable, in-home care is typically more affordable than a room in a nursing home. 

You can also prepare for the eventuality of needing long-term care by using genetic tests to see if you are likely to develop hereditary illnesses and conditions. Certain genetic tests can detect things including Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. Nowadays, these tests can even be done in the comfort of your own home -- no need to make a doctor’s appointment!

Financial Planning for Long-Term Care

The further you are from retirement, the more options you have when it comes to financially planning for long-term care. An obvious option is investing in long-term care insurance. While premiums for these policies are notoriously steep, the younger you are when you first get long-term care insurance, the more affordable it will be. If you have life insurance, you can also look into adding a rider that pays for long-term care in case you need it.

Of course, when it comes to financial planning, diversity is always a great idea. Using various savings methods on top of insurance ensures you have the cash ready for an emergency at a moment’s notice. Pick two or three ways to add enough to your retirement savings to pay for long-term care and you’ll have more options and optimal comfort in your golden years.

  • A Health Savings Account (HSA) allows you to save funds tax-free as long as they are only withdrawn for healthcare needs. You can access the money for non-healthcare matters, but you will then be subject to taxes. 
  • You can also self-insure by contributing to a high yield savings account. Make sure your spouse or beneficiary has access to the account in case you become incapacitated when the funds are needed. 
  • A reverse mortgage is a great way for seniors to free up funds for long-term care. If you are planning on leaving your property to family, however, this is not an option you’ll want to rely on.

As America’s population ages, healthcare costs are sure to rise. To prepare for your long-term care needs, maintain optimal health through diet, exercise, and avoiding risky behaviors. You can financially plan for long-term care through insurance and savings plans that will help cover the steep costs. 

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