For many Americans, retirement is a time to relax, enjoy life and even pursue new hobbies and interests. While it may not be pleasant to think about, retirement is often also a time of declining health. As you age, it’s natural you may face new, serious health challenges.
Very often, those health challenges require more than just medical treatment. They require something called long-term care. Long-term care is needed when a person can’t perform one or more activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, using the restroom, eating or even walking. As the name suggests, long-term care is often needed for months or even years.
Many retirees fail to plan for long-term care. They may think it won’t happen to them. Or they believe they can rely upon their family for help. Below are four common myths about long-term care. If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to reconsider your point of view.
It won’t happen to me.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 70 percent of 65 year olds will need long-term care at some point in their lives.1 If that number seems high, consider all of the possible threats to your health.
Alzheimer’s or another cognitive disease could limit your ability to function. Heart problems could restrict your ability to function. Joint issues could limit your mobility. You could even suffer a fall or other accident that may prevent you from moving as you would like.
There are any number of ways you could find yourself in need of long-term care. Don’t assume you won’t need it.
Medicare will pay for it.
This is a common belief, but it’s usually an incorrect one. There are some instances in which Medicare will pay for long-term care. Usually, it’s when that care is linked to skilled nursing care or hospitalization for treatment of a specific issue. That’s often not the same as long-term care, which may be needed for months or years after a health issue arises.
Even when Medicare does cover long-term care costs, it’s usually only partially and temporary. You will likely have sizable copays, and the Medicare coverage may eventually end. At that point, you may have to pay for care out of pocket.
My family will take care of me.Maybe, maybe not. If you just need help with meals and your family lives nearby, perhaps they can stop by regularly to provide you with food. However, consider what would happen if your need is more demanding.
What if you can’t walk?
What if you need assistance bathing and using the restroom? What if your cognitive state is such that it is unsafe for you to be alone? Again, these aren’t pleasant thoughts, but they are possibilities.
It’s also possible your long-term care needs could equate to a full-time job. Could you expect your family to interrupt their lives to provide that care? And what kind of toll would that take on their careers or their personal relationships?
It would be great if your family does provide care. However, you may also want to consider other options.
I’m too young to worry about long-term care.
There’s no time like the present to prepare yourself for a very real risk. If you’re approaching retirement, it’s not too early to start considering long-term care planning options.
The earlier you take action, the more options you may have available. For instance, when you’re younger and healthier you may be able to qualify for long-term care insurance at more reasonable rates. You may also have more time to develop and implement a savings plan. If you wait until you need long-term care to consider your strategy, you may find you don’t have any options available.
If you’re ready to start the long-term care discussion, contact us at Gallagher Financial Group. We welcome the opportunity to help you identify your needs and develop a planning strategy.
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