The following is a sneak-peek preview of author June Duncan’s new book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers. June is a qualified professional, and friend of Aspire Home Health and Hospice. Be sure to check out her guide, which is due this winter, and to read the excerpt below.
Over half of adults over 65 will need some form of long-term care in their life. While this may look like a scary fact, it doesn’t have to be. High-quality care helps thousands of seniors lead full, happy lives: It’s the cost of it that can be shocking, as well as the changes you may have to make in your lifestyle. Planning correctly for your long-term care needs is the key to staying in control of these factors as you age, and it isn’t as difficult as you may imagine.
Anticipating Your Needs
Before you start planning for your costs, you need to establish what type of long-term care you are likely to need if any at all. Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure, but you’d be surprised at how much you can estimate based on a few factors.
First of all, you need to consider any genetic factors. Have a look at your family medical history and see whether there are any hereditary illnesses. This will help you know what to check for and what to keep an eye on as you get older.
The other important factor is your lifestyle. Do you live somewhere that is well-suited to aging in place, or will you have to make modifications? Do you have a healthy routine that is likely to keep you in good physical and mental shape? Eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are all crucial for your long-term physical health. Remember that it’s not just about your body. According to Prevention, regular exercise and mental stimulation can play a big part in reducing the risk of dementia.
The good news is that you can still make the necessary changes to decrease your chances of needing long-term care. Adults between the ages of 55 and 65 can still reverse the heart damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Meanwhile, exercise can also help older adults improve things such as bone health, muscle mass and blood pressure.
Financing Your Long-Term Care
The cost of your long-term care is difficult to pin down exactly, but you can start by researching the different options available and getting an idea of how much they cost. You can also look at the average long-term care costs in your region. This way, you will know what is realistic for you to plan and save for.
Your savings plan will depend significantly on how close you are to retirement as well as how much money you already have set aside. The sooner you start saving, the more time you have to build a care fund. You may also get better deals on health insurance and long-term care insurance, although you will need to check if the premiums are worth it for you. Alternatively, you could sell your life insurance for a cash payment that can help you finance care costs.
If you are starting late, you may want to consider other solutions. For example, you could consider selling your home and downsizing to somewhere smaller to free up money for care. For example, homes in Taylorsville, Utah, have sold on average for $295,000 in the last month, which could cover years of assisted living.
Many people ignore the possibility of needing long-term care because they find it too stressful, but this is counter-productive. Taking the time to assess and plan for potential long-term care needs is what guarantees that you won’t be under stress when it does happen. As long as you have evaluated the possibilities and set aside some money for the costs, you can enjoy your golden years safe in the knowledge that you will be cared for when you need it.
June is the primary caregiver to her 85-year-old mom and the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is passionate about helping and supporting other caregivers and is currently writing a book titled, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers, due out in Winter 2018.