Many individuals look forward to retirement. However, most of these individuals are not looking forward to having to enter some type of care facility, such as a nursing home. Actually, the majority isn’t even thinking about this possibility at all.
However, many Americans will, at one point, need some type of help with their day-to-day activities. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, roughly 1.4 million Americans reside in nursing homes on any given day.1 In fact, the average American age 65 has a greater than 50% chance of needing long term care before they pass on. Therefore, it is very important to plan for the time in your life when you may need some type of skilled care. Here are some things to consider:
Get your documents in order. Before time or misfortune forces your hand, be sure to create a power of attorney that will cover both your health care and finances. In Ohio, this requires two separate instruments. Without these documents, a family member or caregiver won’t be able to pay your bills or make health-related choices. Consider consulting an attorney to make sure you have all the necessary documents and that they have been completed correctly.
Keep detailed financial records. At some point, you may want or need to get Medicaid assistance. The government has strict regulations regarding who can qualify for these assistance programs so that wealthy individuals can’t take advantage of the system. Therefore, it is very important to have detailed financial records of your income and assets.
Carefully evaluate the pros and cons of extended care insurance (a.k.a. nursing home insurance). The sooner you think about this option, the better. Your premium will be much lower while you are younger. An Ohio State University fact sheet asks readers to consider the following about nursing home insurance: “When looking at money considerations only, the less your assets, the less nursing home insurance is likely to benefit you and your heirs. There is less money to be lost from paying nursing home bills before Medicaid takes over.”2 You also need to evaluate how likely you are to get a return on investment from your insurance (basically, how likely you are to go into a nursing home). According to that same Ohio State University fact sheet, women have a 52% chance of going into a nursing home, while men only have a 33% chance.2
Know your options. There are a lot of different types of care programs available to seniors today. Individuals have a range of options, from senior living environments to 24/7 nursing care. It’s important to assess these different types of care and understand which is best for you.
Shop around. Before it’s time to go into an assisted living facility or other care facility, check around. Visit different facilities. Figure out what their pricing is. Talk to the staff and other residents. In general, just get a really good feel for the different facilities to see which may be right for you.