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Blog about aging

Don’t Let the Costs of Future Care 
Get the Best of You

Here’s something unpleasant you need to know: Medicare generally doesn’t cover the costs of long-term care, and that’s expensive. Really expensive. How much depends on the health risks you face as well as where you live, but it could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, considering that a private room in a nursing home costs over $8,000 per month on average. Even a less intensive service like adult day care bears the heavy price tag of $1,500.
There’s really only one thing to do: plan accordingly. That requires understanding your physical condition as well as how to pay for the care you require. Here are some suggestions. Assess Your Health You can gauge the risk of future conditions, to a certain degree, by how well you’re doing physically and mentally in the present. High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular
disease, for example, and there may be a similar link between anxiety and dementia.
Look Into the Past
That means a close examination of your family's medical history, as many conditions are passed on genetically. In simple terms, having a close relative with diabetes, cancer, or heart disease means you’re likely at greater risk yourself, and that should also affect your future planning.
Research Care Options
Furthermore, the health conditions you’re likely to confront largely determine the services you’ll need. The Association for Long-Term Care Planning has a useful outline of the options available from the least intensive types of home care to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Improve Your Lifestyle
A healthy diet and proper exercise decrease the risk of a variety of health conditions from atherosclerosis to osteoporosis, which, in turn, reduces the likelihood that you’ll require more
expensive forms of care during your retirement. Seniors with a Medicare Advantage plan may be eligible for membership to a fitness facility in their area. Advantage plans also offer benefits for prescriptions and vision and dental care. As such, it’s important to know when you can enroll. Medicare Open Enrollment Period runs from October 5 to December 7, and you can sign
up for a plan, change your coverage, or leave your existing plan during that time. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, however, runs from January 1 to March 31.
Adapt Your Home
This will allow you to age in place for longer and put off the day you move into an assisted living facility or nursing home, perhaps forever. Some helpful modifications include grab bars in the bathroom as well as a ramp at your front door for increased mobility.
Now that you know what’s available to you, here are the main options you have to pay for these services. Bear in mind that the earlier you get started, the easier it will be. Ideally, you’ve got
some time left before retirement.
● Savings
There are many places to store your income to pay for future care, including traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as well as health savings accounts. The latter allows for tax-free earnings on investments along with tax-free withdrawals for qualified health expenses.
● Property Sale
This may be the solution if you’re no longer able to live at your own residence, even with home care services. Another determining factor is how much you would get through the
sale, which you can find out by researching listing prices in your area. 
● Insurance
Specifically, long-term care insurance. One of the main advantages of these policies is that they can be used to pay for the costs of home care. However, the premiums are usually high, and you may never use the coverage.

● Living Benefits
This refers to a rider on your life insurance that allows you to withdraw from the death benefit while still alive to pay for qualified health expenses that may include long-term care. Pricing and conditions vary between insurers, so do your research wisely.
● Home Equity
There are ways to tap into the wealth locked in your property. A home equity line of credit is a loan secured by the property itself that operates somewhat like a credit card, allowing for withdrawals up to a certain amount, with a repayment period that includes principal plus interest. Reverse mortgages are another popular option.
You can breathe easier with a clearer idea of what’s ahead, but don’t wait too long before
coming up with a plan. It’ll make your retirement a whole lot easier.

For more information, contact the author, Hazel Bridges at hazel@agingwellness.org


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