Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care and Costs in Retirement

If you or a loved one are planning ahead for retirement, you may be thinking about potential healthcare costs. You may not, however, be thinking about the potential costs of long-term care. Since most seniors will need long-term care, it’s smart to put together a plan to cover the costs. Here are some ways you can factor long-term care into your financial planning. You might seek some counseling from individuals who specialize in proving long-term care planning.

Retired couple sit by mountain lake enjoying the scenery.

Be Aware of What Medicare Covers

When you depend on Medicare, it can be disappointing to discover that not all healthcare expenses will be covered. Long-term care is very rarely paid for by Medicare benefits since much of the care provided in nursing homes and assisted living care centers is viewed as custodial care. This care, such as bathing, eating, and assistance with other daily tasks, is essential to patients. However, supplemental plans can help seniors offset some of the other costs of their care. Certain Medicare Advantage plans can provide relief in dealing with expenses associated with prescriptions, and dental and vision care. As a result, this could free up more funds to put toward long-term care costs.

Determine the Risk for Long-Term Care

If you can get an idea of what kind of care may be needed, you can better prepare to pay for it. Most older Americans will need long-term care at some point, but certain factors determine for how long and what level of care is needed. Those risk factors of needing long-term care: include age, family history, and your living arrangements. In many cases, you can take steps to decrease the need for care, like exercising more or eating healthier. By assessing the need for long-term care, you can decide how much of your savings you may need to set aside and what plans you need to make.

Get Quality Life Insurance

Life insurance gives you and your loved ones peace of mind and can even provide benefits beyond the intended purposes. Depending on your policy, you may be able to sell your life insurance policy for a cash payout. This can be a viable option for taking care of unexpected expenses, long-term care costs, or to free up more money for retirement. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs a life insurance policy. If your children are grown, and your estate is small or liquid enough that you aren’t worried about covering your estate taxes, it’s okay to cash in your policy early. Whether you use it now or your family uses it later, life insurance can provide more financial options for you and your loved ones. When surveying life insurance, it’s also a good idea to consider final expense insurance, which is a type of whole life insurance. Burial insurance can provide funds for your family to pay for funeral costs and any medical bills or debt you leave behind. This can relieve a huge burden for your family as the average cost of a funeral is $9,000.

Know How to Use Your Home

You may also be able to use your home to pay for care. The most obvious solution is to sell your home if you will be living with a loved one or in a care facility. However, sometimes selling your home is not the best option. If you need to live in your home while or after you receive care, there are a couple of different ways to get the cash you need. You can use a reverse mortgage or home equity loan to free up funds, but both options have their pros and cons. Some seniors have found it worthwhile to rent out all or part of their home and use the rent toward healthcare costs. Just be aware of what this may mean for any Medicaid benefits.

Thinking about long-term care may not be pleasant, but planning for costs can prevent a lot of unpleasant stress later. So if you or a loved one is getting ready for retirement, make sure you take some time to factor in the possibility of long-term care expenses.

Straightforward Tips for Improving Your Quality of Life as a Senior

Living a healthy lifestyle during your senior years can reward you with better energy, independence, and happiness. In fact, one study revealed that seniors with healthy habits live longer and face fewer years of disability than unhealthy seniors. It’s clear that investing your time into health promotion and disease prevention is extremely valuable.

Your first critical step toward healthy aging is making sure you have the right healthcare coverage for your needs. Although Medicare can be extremely beneficial, it doesn’t provide coverage for many essential services. Medicare Advantage plans cover things like dental and vision so you can stay on top of your health all across the board. Learn about Aetna Medicare Advantage plans and how they may benefit you on your quest for good health.

Senior woman sits on couch staring out window.

Maintain Your Mobility with a Variety of Exercises

Maintaining mobility is one of the most important things when it comes to quality of life. Mobility helps you get around on your own, take care of yourself, and participate in the activities you love. Regular exercise is crucial for supporting lasting mobility. Seniors should try to incorporate aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises into their routine, and there are even exercises that seniors can do indoors (online videos and Wii games are just a few examples) if they don’t feel comfortable getting outside. According to the Harvard Medical School, each of these three exercise types for seniors provides unique benefits.

 Aerobic exercises are those that speed up your heart rate. Examples include brisk walking, swimming, and cycling. Aerobic exercises are great for your circulatory system and respiratory system. They can also reduce your risk of depression!

 Next is strength training. Only 9 percent of older adults engage in strength training at least twice a week. This is unfortunate because strength training prevents muscle loss and increases bone density as we get older. Since lifting weights can seem intimidating if you’re new to strength training, start with resistance bands and bodyweight exercises.

Finally, flexibility and balance exercises, like yoga and tai chi, can help you stay active and reduce your risk of falls. Regular stretching should also relieve joint pain and muscle stiffness. Start each stretching session with a few dynamic stretches to wake up your muscles so you can get the most out of your routine.

Improve Your Cognitive Skills by Learning New Things

While you’re doing all this exercise to improve your physical health, don’t forget to train your brain. Learning new things appears to be extremely beneficial for preventing age-related cognitive decline. Challenge yourself with a hobby or skill you’d like to pick up. Some great examples include learning another language, playing an instrument (guitars, clarinets, etc.), or improving your chess game. You can even enroll in an interesting university class!

It’s important that whatever you try actually challenges you intellectually. This is the key to stimulating growth in your brain, much like challenging your muscles encourages them to grow. Learning new skills and taking classes is a better way to boost your cognitive abilities than brain-training games. There’s very little evidence behind brain-training apps and software. The highly specific skills practiced in these games rarely translate to any other areas of your life, so they probably won't help you find your keys or remember where you parked the car!

Stay Social to Support Your Mental Health

Seniors can also do a lot to support their mental health on an emotional level. According to AgingCare, loneliness can be extremely dangerous to seniors, increasing their rate of mental and physical decline. Loneliness has even been associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

Seniors who remain social enjoy greater levels of happiness and a better quality of life than socially isolated people. So, join a local club or group, volunteer, or get a part-time job in a social environment. You can even try using social media to connect with others who share your interests. If you live alone, consider moving into a community environment where opportunities for social engagement are right outside your door.

Good health is never out of reach. Seniors can — and should — strive to enjoy their golden years in every way possible. This means making an effort to exercise every day and putting your brain to work as you learn new things. It may be challenging to get started, but you’ll end up developing some healthy habits that will stick with you for years. If you find that you are isolating or even feeling depressed, seeking therapy can help.