Truth be told, no one knows for certain whether they will need long-term care.
However, planning as if you will need it is far better than assuming that you won’t need it. I’ve been looking at some statistics that point to the importance of having a solid financial plan that includes provisions for long-term care. The great news is that if you don’t need long-term care, you’ll have more to give to your loved ones or you favorite charitable organization.
According to recent government statistics, “Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and support in their remaining years.”
The fact is that as many as one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care support, but 20 percent will need it for longer than 5 years. And, due to the fact that women typically outlive men, they will need care longer than men.
Who Provides Most Long-Term Care
Let’s start by looking at who is providing the majority of long-term care in this country. According to caregiveraction.org, a tremendous amount of caregiving is being done for free by family members and friends. According to their research, “The value of the services family caregivers provide for “free,” when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion).”
Perhaps you are providing care for a loved one or are being cared for by one of your adult children. Everybody knows somebody who has performed this role. Maybe you know someone whose adult child gave up their own job to care for their elderly parent. Or perhaps who brought an elderly parent into their home.
As the statistic I cited above clearly shows, “Family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states.” And, as for the typical scenario, it looks like this, “The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women. More than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them.”
The Family Burden
When a prospective client comes to me to consider establishing an estate and asset protection plan, I always include long-term health care planning in the equation. Most people tell me they do not want to be a burden on their children as they age. Most people don’t. However, a majority of people fail to plan appropriately for their prospective long-term health care needs. No one knows if or when their mental faculties may desert them. No one wants to think about that possibility. When a person is hale and hearty, it is truly difficult to consider anything as undesirable as the inability to take care of one’s needs. Once that happens though, if there were no savings designated nor legal plan in place, the family naturally steps up. And so the cycle continues. Which is why the kind of statistics I’m presenting are so important to take to heart.
Here’s one more statistic that many people are not aware of. “Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.”
Plan Financially For The Worst And Hope For The Best Case Scenario
Supposedly it was John Jay, one of our nation’s founding fathers who in 1813 wrote “To hope for the best and prepare for the worst, is a trite but a good maxim.” Having a positive outlook for the best-case scenario while being financially prepared for the worst is the best position to be in when it comes to a close family member who needs long term care during their lifetime. The sooner you begin, the better.