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Planning for long-term care during a time of loss

If you’ve ever lost a close friend or family member, you understand it can be a difficult time. It can be overwhelming to deal with an estate while experiencing grief and loss. With the passing of a loved one, you may have also experienced first-hand the emotional and financial impact caused by a long-term care event. 

When a friend or family member needs help with everyday activities, it can affect us in different ways. Perhaps you took on the role of caregiver and spent time caring for them or driving them to doctor appointments. On average, employed family caregivers spend 34.7 hours per week providing care.1 Or maybe you provided financial assistance to help cover medical bills or even nursing home costs. The average lifetime cost of formal long-term care is $172,000,2 and many Americans don’t have a plan in place for how they’d pay for this kind of care should they need it.

Going through this experience can be an important time to think about your own potential need for care and whether you’re prepared for a long-term care event. Start by asking yourself:

  • Who would help care for you if you couldn’t perform daily activities such as eating and bathing?
  • What assets could you liquidate to help pay for a home health aide, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home?
  • Would a long-term care event deplete your retirement savings?

By considering these questions, you can start thinking about possible solutions and how to create a plan for care. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care services, and if you have any significant assets, you may not financially qualify for Medicaid. Long-term care policies can offer a variety of benefits that may help cover your need, and even a small amount of coverage can help protect your finances. Even if you have significant assets to self-fund a long-term care event, having some coverage allows you to decrease the risk and can be beneficial in the event of a catastrophic long-term care event. 

Taking the time to plan for long-term care can be especially important when you’ve experienced the effects it can have on you and your family so closely. It can be an opportunity to decide now how you’d like to receive care if you end up having a future long-term care need.

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1 Lynn Friss Feinberg, “Breaking New Ground: Supporting Employed Family Caregivers with Workplace Leave Policies,” AARP Public Policy Institute. September 2018. 

2 “Formal cost of long-term care services: How can society meet a growing need?” PwC. 2018.