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Plan for Long-term Care

long-term care

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

No one wants to envision spending their later years living in a nursing home or being dependent on the help of others to live at home, yet most Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives.

Planning for long-term care needs is crucial for financial security and peace of mind.

Long-term care is an umbrella term for services and supports designed to help people live independently on a daily basis, such as eating, bathing and dressing, either in a care facility or one’s home. Long-term care can range from simple help with daily activities at home to highly skilled nursing care in a nursing home. A misconception is that health insurance, Medicare or disability insurance cover these services, but they do not.

Medicaid does cover long-term care services, but you only qualify if your income and assets do not exceed levels set by North Dakota. You can purchase long-term care insurance, annuities or other hybrid or combination products. The other option is to pay for it with savings, pensions or income from investments.

According to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey, the national median annual cost for long-term care ranges from $47,934 to $97,455, depending on the type of care needed. Long-term care can be expensive depending on the amount and type of care needed and the setting in which it is provided. The average cost for a year in a nursing home in North Dakota is more than $71,000.

Paying for long-term care may be one of the largest financial investments a person or the person’s family will make.

To start the planning process, here are some important steps:

  • Think about your ultimate goals for where you want to live and how you will receive care, should you need it.
  • Consider your unique needs, such as risk factors for long-term care. Risk factors include age, gender, disability, health status and living situation.
  • Understand the range of long-term care services and supports, including home care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing homes.
  • Do the research so you know the costs of long-term care services in your community.
  • Determine what financial resources you have to cover long-term care and address any gaps in financing before you need it.

The best time to plan is when you are healthy and have time to plan. The earlier, the better, just like with financial retirement planning. Planning for long-term care needs is not just about you. It is really a family plan because it impacts the lives of those who care about you.

The decision to purchase long-term care insurance is a very important financial decision that should not be rushed. Ask questions and be sure you understand what the policy covers and when.

The NDSU Extension Aging Well website provides more in-depth information related to this and other related topics.

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/aging/long-term-care-resources

Source: Jane Strommen, NDSU Extension gerontology specialist; North Dakota Insurance Department https://www.nd.gov/ndins/consumers/longtermcare/

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