By the Numbers: Long-Term Care Planning

In what was termed a “gloomy reality,” a recent New York Times op/ed lamented that most senior citizens will eventually require long-term care. The piece, filled with demographic data about our aging population and what can only be described as “scary math” adding up long-term care costs, discussed insurance options and policy changes as potential paths to a bright reality…. Or at least one that was less gloomy.

While the New York Times Editorial Board is right to be sounding alarms about issues around retirement, long-term care, an aging population that’s living longer and the costs of supporting all this, it failed to provide tangible ideas or solutions to its readers.

So we will pick up where the newspaper left off and provide a few steps anyone can take now to help prepare themselves or their loved ones for retirement, care and, importantly, a long life without worry over finances.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the numbers cited by the Times:

  • In 2018, there were 52.4 million Americans age 65 or older and 6.5 million 85 or older. By 2040, those numbers will grow to 80.8 million and 14.4 million, respectively. Between now and 2030, an average of 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day.
  • The Medicaid waiting list for home-based assistance has an average wait time of more than three years. Medicaid is only for those who need the financial assistance.
  • A semiprivate room in a nursing home costs about $93,000 a year and the median yearly cost of a full-time home health aid is $50,000.
  • Nearly 70 percent of Americans turning 65 today will likely need extended services and supports later.

While it would be great if long-term care insurance and lawmakers could be relied on to help shoulder the costs of aging, the reality for most people is that it’s best to find solutions that work for you and your family. It’s never too early or too late to start learning and planning.

  • Medicaid: The Medicaid application process can be complex and confusing. Estate and Elder Law attorney Kimberlie Fiero created a video that discusses the application process. Knowing what to expect can save a lot of stress when you or a family member needs assistance.
  • Insurance: As the Times notes, the long-term care insurance industry has plenty of wrinkles. Plus, there is only a limited age window in which buying long-term insurance is a sound investment. One alternative we’ve previously discussed is short-term care insurance, which provides limited coverage but at a cost-effective price.
  • Legal Documents: Long-term care requires a myriad of health care and legal decisions. Making those decisions in advance helps relieve the financial and emotional toll of the long-term care transition. Read about the three documents that can be prepared now to help you or a loved one make that transition later.

Growing old is a gift, and everyone deserves to do so without the stress of wondering what will happen to them if they need care. Please reach out to us to discuss an estate plan that works for you and your family. Call 856.782.8450 to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney.

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