Thoughts from a mother
The hummingbirds have arrived! Spring is announcing itself in many ways here in the valley, and I always look forward to the trill of the tiny bird’s wings. They also announced the arrival of Mother’s Day last week. My children are now out of the house, but each year I still hope to receive the home-made cards that have become a treasured tradition. I don’t want to admit it, but I am getting older.
Thinking about what my health and financial needs will be down the road is not really something I want to do on a beautiful spring day, but the reality is — if not now, when? Ladies, think this out with me. Long-term care is a primarily a women’s issue for two reasons. First, longevity is on our side. Women on average live five years longer than our same-age male counterparts. Secondly, women often assume the responsibilities around caregiving for aging parents, spouses or other family members. There are big emotional, physical and financial implications around this issue.
Long-term care describes a variety of services and products, including nursing home care, assisted living, home health care, adult day care, as well as medical equipment and home-delivered meals. It is triggered by a person’s inability to perform normal activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, continence or moving around.
There is a misconception that long-term care needs will be paid for by Medicare once you hit 65. While there is a limited amount of nursing home care available with part A, Hospital Insurance and home health care under a physician’s treatment plan, this government sponsored program is not designed to fulfill all the care required.
According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the average need for LTC is 1,040 days — slightly under three years. The average cost per day is about $260 for nursing home care. The Health Research Institute states the trend of health care inflation being lower in 2014, but 6.5 percent is still pretty steep.
How will you fund this future intrusion on your financial nest egg? The sooner you start looking at what you want to accomplish, the more options you have. You can self-insure. This is where you build a savings and investment program to provide you with the needed costs. You can look into a Reverse Mortgage. Some homeowners qualify to tap into the equity in their home while retaining ownership. Some life insurance policies provide “accelerated death benefits” to the insured. You can purchase long-term care insurance. The benefits and costs vary widely from policy to policy, and you need to weigh your options.
These are just a few of the tools to consider. Your first step is to understand that you are not “average” and you need to look at your family health history, both physical and mental as well as your personal financial situation to assess and ascertain what are the best avenues for you to pursue.
My family is living this in real-time. My 92 year old Aunty Kay (my second mother) is in her third year at a wonderful assisted living facility in Arvada. She had the foresight many years ago to plan and put the proper tools in place. This has blessed our family with the ability to be there for her now without undue emotional, physical or financial burden.
It is time to talk about the foreboding issues that can wreak havoc on families in a variety of ways. If you have aging parents — talk about what their concerns, hopes and current plans are. Discuss your own long-term care options with your adult children. Make sure you have the proper medical power of attorney paperwork in place as part of your planning process. Yes, spring is here! Mothers, I hope you enjoyed your special day. Ladies and gentlemen, we all need to open our eyes to the winter that lies down the road. Ladies, it is imperative that we make the time to have the discussions, create a plan, and put the proper tools in place to give us peace of mind around how we want to care for ourselves and prepare and tend to those around us.
Danielle Howard is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner. Wealth By Design, LLC, her financial life planning office is located in Basalt, were they take a personal interest in your financial well-being. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com or call 927-3909. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., A Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.
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