Today, research tells us that approximately thirteen percent of all seniors are prepared for a future that could include the need for long-term care outside the home. Roughly, only this same percentage of seniors have invested in long-term care insurance or have devoted time to determining how they would pay for the care needed in a crisis. While these numbers may seem low to some, we understand that it may be difficult to plan for a time that could or could not happen.

Unfortunately, long-term care remains a topic that many seniors would prefer not to address. The reasons why vary but we often have our clients and their loved ones share with us that the idea of needing long-term care in the future is overwhelming to think about, let alone plan for. From leaving the family home and having to rely on strangers for daily assistance to paying thousands of dollars a month and depleting a lifetime of savings, the challenge can appear insurmountable. Instead of facing it head on, many choose to wait and see if it will be necessary in the future.

While determining the best way to be able to afford to live at home with care or outside the home in a long-term care facility may not be what you and your loved ones want to spend your time on, it is critical to have this conversation sooner rather than later. When you have a long-term care plan in place, you and your loved ones can avoid the confusion that could otherwise arise over what type of care you want in a crisis. Let us share three ways you can plan forward that we tell our family, friends, clients, and advisors who are looking to get started and plan for a future that could include long-term care needs.

1. Plan early. There is never a wrong time to plan. Many of us believe that long-term care is something that is only a remote possibility or something we will never need to be concerned with. Did you know, however, that 52% percent of people turning 65 years old will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime? Knowing this fact, the sooner you are able to work with an elder law attorney to create a plan for the future the better. Although there are available options in a crisis, these solutions are not always as robust as when you can plan in advance and have time on your side.

2. Determine what you can afford based on your finances. Different types of care cost different amounts. For example, did you know that skilled, hands-on care for a senior can be much more expensive than when only room and board are needed? Further, care in the home can be much more expensive than long-term care options that take plan outside the home. It Is important for you to know what long-term care actually costs. To gain a better understanding of the cost of care in Wisconsin, you may take a look at the Genworth Cost of Care Study. Understanding what your income, assets, and long-term care insurance look like right now can go a long way in starting to determine the type of long-term care you can afford to privately pay for and where you will need assistance.  

3. Talk to your loved ones about your choices. Do not wait to talk to your children, your spouse, and any of your decision makers that are involved in your estate planning about your choices. Each of us has an idea of what long-term care should look like for ourselves and our loved ones. It is never the wrong time to involve your family and friends in your discussions about what you want for long-term care. This can not only alleviate concerns but allow you to work together to find solutions for what you need now and in the future. It also ensures that everyone can be on the same page about your wishes in the event you are unable to make your own choices for any reason.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you to find the answers to your questions about long-term care before you need them and plan forward for yourself and your loved ones. Remember, you can contact our office to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum at any time.