According to the Social Security Administration, 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will have a long-term care expense during their lifetime. Seventy percent. That is a very high probability that at some point you will need assistance with basic activities, such as dressing yourself, taking a shower, or even eating. To get help, you may need to move to an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or go to adult daycare.
The average length of time a man will need long-term care is 2.2 years; for women, 3.7 years. The average cost for one year in a semi-private U.S. nursing home room is $85,000. You can see why long-term care insurance can be so valuable. Unfortunately, fewer than 10 percent of Americans over the age of 65 carry that insurance.
Our government does provide care, of course. But keep in mind that Medicare only covers a very limited amount of long-term care services, and only for a limited period of time. Medicaid is also available for long-term care expenditures. But in order to receive Medicaid, you need to be out of money. You can use trusts, etc. to help you become eligible for Medicaid, but that’s often not a good option for most people.
And sure, a family member may care for you instead. But family-provided can negatively impact the family caregiver’s career and health.
What are the solutions? I suggest creating a plan. Make sure you understand the risks and the costs. Then determine how you’ll pay for long-term care. Some lucky people can pay for it themselves. They may be able to buy a hybrid product, such as an annuity with long-term care insurance attached. Others may need to look at other options: insurance, a reverse mortgage, perhaps, or family members who might be able to help. God willing, you won’t need long-term care. According to the Social Security Administration, there is a 30 percent chance you won’t. But since there is a 70 percent chance you will need care, it’s prudent to plan for the possibility. And finally, try to stay as healthy as possible with exercise, a healthy diet, and preventative care.