For those entering their retirement years, the future may feel full of possibilities. While your retirement should be a season of renewed enthusiasm for the purposes and pastimes that bring joy to your life, your retirement years can also be shadowed with uncertainty. Even if you’re in your best health now, the natural symptoms of aging can accelerate health issues as the years go by. We can never know what the future holds, but with foresight and good planning, we can erase the stress of worrying even if we’re prepared to handle it.
Senior living experts say it’s never too early to start making plans about your future care and even end-of-life wishes. Sorting out your legal, financial and healthcare affairs now can be extremely beneficial. You and your family can experience greater peace of mind knowing that all the work has been done should something unexpected happen. For many who wait to make plans until a serious illness or health condition occurs, they feel rushed into decisions, selecting care facilities and other options due to necessity rather than personal choice, and may not have the funds to pay for their ideal method of care. Making such plans ahead of time – even if you never have to utilize them – can help you and your loved ones remain worry-free for the future.
So how do you do it? What plans should you make in order to keep your retirement worry-free? While the answers may vary from person to person, there are three major considerations everyone should evaluate in order to plan the future that puts their minds at ease.
Three Considerations for a Worry-Free Future
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to making plans about legal affairs, protecting your assets and choosing senior care. While the future will always have an element of unpredictability, considering your options and formalizing basic plans now can help you and your family steer through uncertain times.
The AARP® resource guide, “Planning for Long-Term Care,” highlights several important factors in planning for the future. Some key suggestions involve:
Considering Future Care Wishes – It’s important to know what kind of senior care you would prefer, should it ever be necessary. Would you rather receive care at home or at a senior living community? If the former, you should assess whether your house and its location are ideal for helping you remain independent. If the latter, begin researching types of communities near you (traditional nursing homes, active senior living, assisted living, continuing care communities, etc.) to see which ones you like the most. Doing your research ahead of time can allow you to choose the most desirable community and start making financial plans to make that option possible.
Considering How to Pay for Care – Perhaps the most import considerations to make when planning for your future retirement years is how you’re going to pay for the services you might need. Since private health insurance plans, as well as Medicare, do not typically cover long-term care, knowing what financial options are available to you before you need care can make it much more affordable. Financial options for paying for long-term care include:
- Retirement Savings and Other Investments – Investments such as a 401(k) plan or IRAs are some of the most common ways to pay for long-term care. Cashing in on stocks and other investments is another possibility.
- Real Estate – If you want to move to a retirement or long-term care community, you can use the money made from selling or renting out your house to pay for care. If you’d rather receive care at home, you can pay for services by setting up a reverse mortgage. As long as you live in your home, a reverse mortgage will allow to you exchange your equity in your home for monthly payments, which you can use to pay for in-home care.
- Veterans Benefits – Many qualifying Veterans and their spouses can pay for care through benefits they receive from the Veterans Administration. The Aid and Attendance Pension is part of the Improved Pension benefits for Veterans and their spouses who require assistance with daily living activities, such as dressing, bathing, eating, etc.
- Long-Term Care Insurance – Unlike regular health insurance, these policies cover the costs of care in an independent living, assisted living or skilled nursing community, as well as home care. Long-term care insurance should be bought when you are younger and relatively healthy. Those in poor health or already receiving long-term care may not qualify for this kind of insurance.
- Medicaid – Medicaid is a federally and state funded program that pays for long-term care services for those with very low income levels and few assets. Eligibility for Medicaid varies slightly from state to state and depends upon financial and functional health requirements. These benefits can be used to cover the costs of skilled nursing care or assisted living as long as the person resides in a community.
Considering Others Involved in Your Future – Once you’ve made decisions about how you would like to handle your future care, sharing those plans with your loved ones is important. Not only will it help to ensure that you receive the type of senior care you want should you be unable to communicate your wishes later on, but you will also save your loved ones from the burden of making these decisions on their own.
When the time is right, you can choose to make legal plans, such as a living will or Power of Attorney. If an accident should occur and you cannot make decisions for yourself, these legal documents will legitimize your healthcare choices. Even if you wait to write up an official living will, it’s still a good idea to put your care wishes in writing to avoid any confusion or disagreements among family members.
Make Worry-Free Retirement a Reality
Whether your retirement years are just beginning or you’ve realized it’s time to stop worrying and start making plans, there are plenty of resources available to seniors looking to rest easy about an uncertain future. Contact 55Living to see how we can help you settle into the retirement lifestyle you deserve!