I was interviewed by Sagewell Financial, an online platform, for their April ’22 newsletter targeting baby boomers. In the article, I speak about the right time to plan for an extended care need, and who might benefit from a formal long term care plan.
Long-Term Care Planning:
Why facing it without fear is the only answer
A recent study of how well Americans understand long-term care planning uncovered what most of us already know—we’re confused about it. Of the 350,000 people who turn 65 every year in this country, two-thirds will need long-term care assistance and almost a third will need it longer than five years. Yet most families avoid talking about the subject until there is an urgent need. In fact, even between spouses, only a little over half of us are discussing it and barely over a third of adult children have a conversation with their parents. If we do manage to broach the topic, we often leave out the all-important question “how are we going to pay for an extended care need”?
Jeff Wright, co-founder, and COO of Sagewell Financial says “helping people face the emotionally and financially interconnected topics of aging is important because avoidance is always what comes at the highest cost to families. We understand that fear is behind the resistance so we’re helping people confront important topics, like long-term care, by approaching them practically, but with compassion.”
So why do we go to great lengths to sidestep this critical topic? Well, it can be uncomfortable. And scary. But as with most difficult subjects, confronting it is always the better answer, regardless of what we find. Here’s an honest look at some common questions I asked leading long-term care specialist, Meredith Pensack.
When should someone start looking into long- term care planning and can it be too late?
Meredith: “When someone is financially able to plan for the future is the best time to explore the subject. Today people are probably as healthy as they will ever be. The option of getting LTC insurance might be off the table in the future due to health changes. The plans require that people be in reasonably good health. I’ve helped people as young as early 30’s (due to family history) and as old as late 70’s.”
What would you say to people who aren’t sure if they need to look into long-term care insurance?
Meredith: “Anyone with financial resources to protect should at least consider a formal plan that addresses an extended care need. It’s the most likely thing to happen, but the least likely to be planned for. Commonly people who are “in the middle” financially look into coverage, but I’ve assisted very wealthy people as well. Individuals without savings may have to rely upon Medicaid, the safety net that is designed for those without financial resources. Medicaid does provide for long term care, but most commonly in a nursing home after spending down to the poverty level. Medicaid wasn’t designed to pay for on-going home care or care in Independent or Assisted Living.”
How should someone go about finding a long- term care specialist?
Meredith: “When selecting a professional to assist in looking into long term care insurance options, it’s important to find a broker who can represent different companies and plans; make sure that they’re not just tied to one company. The agent should be able to write both traditional as well as hybrid long term care insurance policies.”
Regardless of your situation, financial or otherwise, you can make a long-term care plan. If long-term care insurance turns out to be unaffordable or unavailable to you, you may be able to pay for it using an old life insurance policy with cash value. You’d have to call the insurer to inquire. Or maybe through qualifying for Medicaid you could receive the care you need. There is even the chance you may never need long-term care, but even if you don’t, having a plan will give you confidence and peace of mind. Your solution may look different than you envisioned but planning to manage your later years will be a priceless gift to your family, and most of all to you.