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Plan for Tomorrow to Enjoy Today: Tips for Seniors
If you’re one of the 18 million seniors in the United States that need assistance with daily activities, it’s likely you receive this help from friends and family. The vast majority of seniors that receive help reside in a community setting, either an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. But Medicare, although a valuable asset, doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of long-term care.
For many, the idea of leaving home and submitting to the hands-on care of others isn’t an option. If you’re one of these people, there are ways to prolong your independence. This starts at home. There are many home improvements—mostly simple remodeling jobs—that can make aging in place a more viable option.
For example, adding side-by-side appliances and touchless faucets can make cooking and cleaning the kitchen a possibility if you have arthritis. Additional accessibility modifications include widening doorways, adding easy-to-reach grab bars in the bathtub, ensuring stairways are covered with non-slip material and are well-lit, and has rails on both sides.
Aside from home modifications, volunteer and paid assistance can prolong your ability to live in your own home. You may need help with daily chores, medication administration, or hygiene. This isn’t always enough, however.
When remaining alone is no longer feasible, assisted living is an option that has many benefits. There are usually assisted living centers located in close proximity to most metropolitan areas. These residences provide 24-hour supervision, healthy dining options, and enhanced privacy over having someone living in your home.
Beating the costs
We mentioned that Medicare was great for seniors, but it does not make provisions for long-term custodial care. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce your overall expenses and make assisted living or skilled-nursing care more affordable. These include:
- Research - Don’t assume that the lowest cost service provider/assisted-living facility is your best value.
- Working from home - There are several kinds of work you can do from home. This supplemental income can help offset other expenses.
- Ask for discounts or move-in incentives - The vast majority of facilities, especially those under a corporate umbrella have fixed rates. However, the centers may be able to waive move-in fees. Smaller, locally operated assisted living programs may be flexible, especially if they are new or have multiple vacancies.
- Invest in long-term care insurance - Long-term care insurance is a financial product available through many insurance providers. It helps cover the gap between Medicare, private insurance, and assisted living.
- Room share - Many assisted living facilities provide matching services that allow you to share a two-bedroom unit with another senior. This is often more cost-effective than living in a one-bedroom apartment or condominium on campus. This is not without its pros and cons, however, and is not a decision to be entered into lightly.
- Selling your home - If you’re a homeowner, you can fund your long-term care by selling your house. Make sure you know the value of your home by getting an online home-value estimate.
Paying for care
In addition to long-term care insurance, AboutAssistedLiving.org notes that life insurance, VA benefits, a reverse mortgage, bridge loan, annuities, and selling real estate property are payment options that should be considered. Once personal assets have been exhausted, Medicaid may kick in to ensure you have a safe place to live out your golden years. The federal government spends more than $553 billion annually on Medicaid programs—more than 20 percent of this goes toward providing long-term care services.
It’s a cliché, but failing to plan really is the practice of planning to fail. And when it comes to your health and wellness needs, you can never begin planning soon enough. Do your research and know what options are available for your budget and personal needs. Not doing so may leave you scrambling to care for yourself in your hour of need.
A special thank you to Dan Hall at dadschange.com for contributing this article.
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