For many people long-term care is synonymous with living in a nursing home. Actually, there are more options than ever to help you maintain comfort and dignity during a care need, including receiving care in your own home. Preparing for long-term care should address your health, wellness and personal preferences as well as your financial needs.
Help with activities of daily living
Aging, accidents, illnesses and chronic conditions may limit your ability to care for yourself. When this happens, you need access to quality care. You also may need assistance with everyday, personal tasks. Licensed long-term care providers and long-term care facilities can help with these and other types of "activities of daily living:"
- Transferring (moving in and out of bed)
There are other everyday tasks that you may need assistance with, including:
- Managing money
- Taking medication
- Preparing and cleaning up after meals
- Shopping for groceries or clothes
- Using the telephone or other communication devices
- Caring for pets
- Responding to emergency alerts such as fire alarms
Access to professional care when you need it
Long-term care needs may arise sooner than you think. Short-term access to long-term care can help you recover from a sudden illness or injury. For example, while recovering from hip surgery you may need rehabilitation therapy that requires several weeks or a few months at a nursing facility.
No one wants to think, “This could be me” and no one can predict the future. But, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services1:
- More than half of Americans turning 65 today will need some type of long-term care services and support. The average cost of those future services and support is $120,900, in today’s dollars.
- Women spend more on long-term care services than men because they tend to live longer. In addition, married women are often younger than their husbands and more likely to become widowed at older ages, leaving women less likely to receive unpaid spousal care (and more likely to provide it). Expected long-term care costs are higher for women than men, $154,300 for women and $85,400 for men.
Help at home or in a qualified facility
Right now, you may have very strong feelings about where you want to live and who will take care of you — should the time come. Some prefer to have a spouse or adult child provide care at home. But caregiving puts demands and stress on your loved ones. A dedicated caregiver may have to give up a career, forego income, miss family time and ultimately sacrifice his or her own health and wellness.
Even in large families where adult children, siblings or other relatives want to share the load, the stress of the situation may change family dynamics or trigger disagreements.
A highly variable expense
The cost of long-term care varies immensely depending on the type of care needed, where it is received and where you live. Many people turn to long-term care insurance options to pay for long-term care expenses.
Other people choose self-funding approaches to long-term care, which may require you to bear the entire cost burden yourself. To self-fund long-term care, you need cash savings or liquid assets like the equity in your home. If care is needed for an extended period of time, these resources can quickly deplete and affect the inheritance you can leave.
Innovative funding options
An alternative to traditional long-term care insurance is asset-based long-term care protection, which lets you use your assets to purchase a fixed whole life insurance policy or annuities that can provide benefits for qualifying long-term care expenses. And, if care is never needed, these products can provide benefits to your heirs.
Asset-based long-term care products also have the advantage of providing significant tax advantages, a cash value that can be accessed in an emergency and other customization options.
1 Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans; Risks and Financing; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; Revised August 2022.
OneAmerica Financial℠ is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica Financial. Products issued and underwritten by The State Life Insurance Company® (State Life), Indianapolis, IN, a OneAmerica Financial company that offers the Care Solutions product suite. Not available in all states or may vary by state.