How to Plan for Senior Care Costs
Last Updated: February 4, 2019
Senior care is expensive and it’s stressful figuring out how to make sure your parent or senior loved one gets the care they need while staying within a range you can afford. That’s especially true if they didn’t do a great job of planning financially for senior care costs, which is the case with most seniors. Only about a third of seniors have set aside money for long-term care needs, according to a recent study.
The sooner you begin planning for senior living, the better off you and your senior loved one will be when you start to need a greater level of care. Read our top seven tips on how to plan for senior care costs now:
1. Consider long-term care insurance.
Affording long-term care will be much easier if a senior has 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 a diagnosis for a common disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease occurs, you’ll have a hard time finding a company to cover you.
If you manage to apply before there is a need though, the plan will make finding a good long-term care option you can afford much easier and open up more options when determining the best long-term care solution for you and your family.
2. Consider your assets.
If you or your senior loved one owns a home, then you won’t necessarily be entirely dependent on 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 costs.
If you have other assets as well – additional property investments or other valuable items to sell – don’t discount any of it when considering your options for paying for senior care.
3. Decide what you’re willing to compromise on.
Unfortunately, you should accept now that you or a senior loved one may not be able to get everything in a senior living community, 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 when it comes time to find the senior care option that will be best for your needs, so you can prepare yourself or a loved one 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 community 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.
4. 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 or a loved one 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.
5. Know your options.
Senior care costs vary considerably based on the type you choose, the geographic region you’re in and the specific communities or companies you look at. If your first look at senior care costs in your area has you concerned, then take some time to see how those costs compare to similar communities 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. Consider doing a cost-benefit analysis of the types of care that may best suit your needs.
6. Research all available benefits.
In addition to your own savings, 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.
7. 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.
It’s useful to check on all of your available senior care options now, in order to be more aware of what senior care costs to expect once you do need to make those decisions.
To get a quick look into the senior care options available in your area, search Senior Advisor. You can get a snapshot of the communities 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.