The golden years: Planning for your long-term care needs as you age.
Ah, the sweet “golden years.” By the age of 65, many people are ready for retirement and everything that comes after that; golf, travel, gardening, time with the grandkids, leisurely days, and aging (hopefully) gracefully and in-place.
But, it’s also in these senior years that folks tend to develop age-related health issues. For this reason, planning for the “Golden Years” is crucial for overall life satisfaction.
It’s not wise to assume that you will be able to age in place and have plenty in your retirement account to live a comfortable, assistance-free life as you age; things come up, the unexpected can happen, and it’s essential to be prepared.
Make a plan for the Golden Years to increase life satisfaction.
What are the Golden Years?
The last phase of a person’s life is what many refer to as the Golden Years. It’s a time when you are no longer able or willing to work and instead have the ability to live more comfortably with your retirement funds.
As the average life expectancy gradually increases, the elderly are starting to realize that retirement funds are often not sufficient to carry out a long, comfortable post-retirement life, especially when health issues arise. Additional planning is required to make sure retirement money goes as far as possible.
This is why retirement and making a good plan for eldercare (should it be needed) are vital things to do, years in advance.
Elderly care is essentially a range of services that ensure the health and safety of aging individuals. Preparing for elder care is a financial task that will benefit the whole family.
So how can you prepare for the Golden Years?
Address retirement finances early.
Don’t wait until there’s a problem before getting your finances sorted out. Managing finances is a life-long endeavor, but by the time you reach age 60, you should already have a serious plan for your senior years. If family members will act as caregivers, it’s crucial to minimize the financial burden by planning ahead.
Start preparing for retirement by reducing debt and putting money into retirement savings. Pay down credit cards, make sure bank accounts are in order and put at least 15% of earnings into a retirement fund.
Furthermore, start tailoring wills and trusts for the family while you still have the means to do so. These will help to transfer wealth and assets to them appropriately.
Understand your needs beyond retirement and into old age.
While the Golden Years should be a time of relaxation, health issues may arise. If financing elder care or long-term care needs is addressed too late, these health issues could potentially wipe out your retirement funds, leaving too little to last your lifetime.
When it comes to elder care, there are several options, depending on physical needs. Options range from home care to senior care facilities. It’s a good idea to understand what these options entail.
Home care could look like light housekeeping; or, it could be more intensive, such as the need to hire an assistant who specializes in memory care or home health care. Home care is a popular choice among the elderly because they can spend their time somewhere familiar- aging in a place they’ve called home for years.
In addition to the possible need to hire in-home care workers, you may need to consider elder proofing the home, making it safer to guard against dangerous falls, fires, and other hazardous situations for the elderly who may be having memory or mobility issues.
You may plan to live with your children as you grow older. In that case, there could be a need for home modifications of their home, such as building a “mother-in-law cottage” or an additional downstairs bedroom; or, creating wheelchair access for entryways to the house.
If you’re not able to age at home, a senior care community may be a consideration. These might include adult day-care, nursing homes, or assisted living. Retirement homes are similar to assisted living communities, except with an emphasis on community rather than healthcare services.
Thinking about these options is a core aspect of planning for the Golden Years. Each of these will incur a different set of costs. Which one is chosen will depend on an elderly person’s physical state.
Paying for long-term care.
Elderly care and all the things that come with it are commonly referred to as long-term care (LTC). Planning for the Golden Years means having a financial plan for possible long-term care.
LTC insurance is a reasonable choice for people willing to bankroll a plan early on. Although it can be costly, and there’s a chance you’ll never need to use it, LTC insurance can tremendously decrease the burden of elderly care costs.
Another option for those who cannot afford LTC insurance is Medicaid or government-backed assistance. Still, those services are often subpar in comparison.
Regardless, receiving a payout when health issues arise will help hedge against rapidly decreasing retirement funds and make the Golden Years less stressful for the whole family.
Enjoying the Golden Years after planning
With all of the financial and administrative things in order, your family will have an easier time during the Golden Years. Elderly loved ones can relax knowing that their health needs and family inheritance are taken care of. Family members will take on less of the logistical and financial burden.
The first step in planning for the Golden Years is to get finances in order as retirement nears. This includes trusts, wills, and paying down debt. Next is to understand what sort of elder care services you may need in the future.
Don’t hesitate to open up discussions around elder care with loved ones. Missing out on these conversations can be costly. Consider long-term care insurance to help pay for potential healthcare costs. Start planning your Golden Years now.