The years between 60 and 70 are years of important transitions. You might still be working, thinking about retiring or already be retired. You might need to reduce monthly expenses so you can afford to retire. You become eligible for Medicare and probably begin to receive Social Security. You may also be thinking about where you want to live in your retirement. You might have a spouse or other family member who requires caregiving. You might be adjusting to health issues or other disabilities. All these factors will affect your long-term care planning.
- Stay healthy and live well to maintain your health. It is never too late to make changes in your lifestyle to improve or maintain your health. Start by talking to your primary care physician.
- Assess long-term care risk.
- Find out the cost of long-term care in your area.
- Become familiar with local resources that provide long-term care supports and services.
- Ask your friends and relatives about their experience when they considered or purchased financial products to pay for long-term care.
- Talk to friends or relatives who are caregivers for a loved one. You can learn a lot from talking to people who have direct experience.
- Think about what you would like to retirement and how this might affect your plans for long-term care.
- Assess your finances and your ability to pay for future long-term care costs and living expenses in your retirement years.
- Review your current health, life, disability and long-term care insurance coverage.
- If you are still working, find out if your employer offers any type of insurance that you can purchase to pay for long-term care.
- If you haven't already, take a look at the financial options to pay for long-term care. Decide what is the most appropriate for you. If you have made the choice to buy long-term care insurance and you have not bought it yet, buy it now. The monthly premium cost for a new policy is based on your age when you buy it. The monthly premium cost increases dramatically if you buy at age 70 instead of at age 60.
- As you move into retirement and want to protect your finances, let your children know what you plan to do and how the costs of long-term care might affect it. There are ways to maintain an inheritance, including Minnesota Long-Term Care Partnership policies.
- Even if you do not plan to use your personal income and savings for long-term care, increase the percentage of your income that you allocate to savings. Most people are not saving enough for their older years.
- Think about where you want to live. If you want to stay in your current home, make home modifications that let you stay at home longer and try to reduce your monthly living expenses. As you think about relocating, ask yourself, will any family be nearby if I need care? If you are trying to decide whether to move or stay in your current housing, consider some of the following:
- Accessibility of your home and the cost of modifications that might make it more accessible
- Condition of your home
- Cost of housing maintenance
- Cost of property taxes
- Location of family, shopping, medical care and other amenities
- Before you decide to move, also consider:
- Advantages of buying versus renting
- How much equity you have
- If this will be a short- or long-term move
- Related tax and legal issues
- Value of your home
- How close your family is if you need care
- If you decide to move, look for a home with universal design features that will meet your needs as you age. Think about a single-level house, condominium or apartment, or a retirement community that provides supports and services such as meals, transportation and housekeeping.
Advance care and legal planning
- Make sure you have a written will.
- Think about the type of care you wish to receive when you are unable to make or communicate those decisions for yourself.
- Discuss your preferences with your family and those close to you. Making your wishes clear ahead of time decreases the chance of future conflicts and takes the decision-making burden off your family.
- After you decide, put your plan in writing. Your plan should reflect your personal values and beliefs. In Minnesota, the recommended form is the health care directive. This has taken the place of the living will.
- Complete a health care power of attorney. This identifies the person you wish to make care decisions for you if you are unable to decide or communicate yourself.
- Share your plan with your doctor, family and others.
- Periodically review and update.