How to Plan for Senior Care CostsHow to Plan for Senior Care Costs

Senior care is expensive and it’s stressful figuring out how to make sure your loved one gets the care they need while staying within a range you can afford. And that’s especially true if they didn’t do a good job of planning financially for needing senior care, which is the case with most seniors. Only about a third of seniors have set aside money for long-term care needs.

Most people know on some level that it’s common for seniors to have to pay for in-home care or assisted living, but it’s easy to see it as something that happens to someone else, rather than something they should be preparing for themselves. That’s a mistake. The sooner you start thinking about planning for senior care costs, the better off you’ll be when you start to need a greater level of care.

  1. Start saving as early as possible.

For many caregivers, it may already be too late for your senior loved one to plan ahead, but you can learn from the challenges they’re facing now. Don’t assume the need for senior care will never affect you. If you’re not yet retired, add some extra to your retirement calculations now to account for it.

If you are retired, then re-think your current monthly budget to better maximize savings so you’ll be in a better place to afford long-term senior care down the line when you need it. No one wants to think about needing and paying for senior care, but being proactive in planning for it will put you in a better position to choose the type that’s best for you when the time comes.

  1. Consider long-term care insurance.

Affording the long-term care you need as a senior will be much easier if you have the foresight to invest in long-term care insurance. Applying for long-term care insurance before the age of 60 is ideal, if you want to avoid especially high premiums and increase your chances of being approved. Once you have a diagnosis for a common senior disease like dementia or Parkinson’s, you’ll have a hard time finding a company to cover you.

If you manage to apply before you have a need though, the plan will make finding a good long-term care option you can afford much easier and open you up to more options when determining the best long-term care solution for you.

  1. Keep an eye on average costs.

One of the trickiest parts of planning for senior care costs is knowing what to expect. The typical cost of senior care options isn’t consistent, and most types of senior care have been on an upward trajectory for years.

You can’t know for sure now what the costs will be at the time you come to need long-term senior care, but you can research what the current costs of senior care are both nationally, as well as more specifically in your geographic region.

Keep an eye on how the cost of senior care changes year by year in your area, so you’ll be better prepared for what the actual cost will be when it becomes relevant for you.

  1. Know your options.

Senior care costs vary considerably based on the type you choose, the geographic region you’re in, and the specific companies or facilities you look at. If your first look at the costs of senior care facilities in you area has you concerned, then take some time to see how those costs compare to similar facilities in other cities, or see if finding in-home care might make more financial sense than moving to assisted living or vice versa.

You do have a number of options and you’ll do a better job of making an informed choice if you take the time to research and understand what those options are.

  1. Consider your assets.

If you own a home, then you won’t necessarily be entirely dependent on your retirement savings in paying for senior care. There are a number of ways you can use the investment you’ve made in your home to pay for senior care.

If you have other assets as well – additional property investments, expensive jewelry you’re willing to part with, or other valuable items to sell – don’t discount any of it when considering your options for paying for senior care.

  1. Research all available benefits.

In addition to your own savings and assets, you may qualify for assistance from the government in paying for senior care. Veterans should look into the aid and attendance benefit in particular. Other seniors can check out BenefitsCheckup to learn about government programs you may qualify for that help cover the costs of health care, medications, and housing – and as such may help you more easily save for and afford the costs of senior care.

  1. Decide what you’re willing to compromise on.

Unfortunately, you should accept now that you may not be able to get everything you want in a senior care facility, especially if you have limited funds to work with (as just about everyone does). It’s useful to consider early on what will be most important to you when it comes time to find the senior care option that will be best for your needs, so you can prepare yourself for what you may need to give up.

Different seniors will have different priorities on this point. Figure out if being close to family is more important to you than a facility with bigger rooms and a pool, or if finding somewhere pet-friendly is worth giving up being in the vicinity of nearby shopping centers. You’ll probably have to make some compromises that aren’t easy, but considering them in advance will make it a little easier to make those decisions when you have to.

When you’re not yet at the point in life to be actively researching senior care options, it can be hard to keep all this stuff top of mind. Nonetheless, it’s useful to check on your available options now, in order to be more aware of what to expect once you do need to make those decisions.

To get a quick and easy look into the senior care options available in your area, search Senior Advisor. You can get a snapshot of the facilities and businesses close to you and how they’re different, so you’ll know well in advance which ones are likely to be best for you once you need them.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

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