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Estate Planning: Your Family, Your Wealth, Your Legacy.

Long-Term Care Planning

What is the Cost of Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is expensive.  In 2012 the median annual rate for a private nursing home room is $81,030.  Americans can expect to pay approximately $15,330 more per year today for a nursing home than they had to pay in 2007.[1]  As the population ages, nursing home costs are only going to go up.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the average cost of nursing home care in a private room is $5,323 a month.  A semi-private room is $4,213 a month.  A private room in an assisted living facility is $3,375 a month.  Adult day care costs $975 a month.  Home health aide or homemaker services are $3,592 a month and $3,428 a month, respectively.  Of course, these costs may be higher depending on the facility.

Two-thirds of the population will actually need some long-term care, such as in-home, assisted living, 
or nursing home care, after they reach 65.

Planning for Long-Term Care[2]

 There are three major reasons to plan for long-term care:

  1. You don’t want to be a burden to others
  2. You want to be able to afford quality care in a setting of your choice
  3. You want to protect your loved ones’ future security and quality of life

When you discuss the issue of long-term care planning, there are three issues you should consider:

  1. What long-term care options do you prefer?
  2. What role will your family members play in managing your care?
  3. How will you pay for your long-term care needs?

Long-Term Care: The Financial Costs

Probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about long-term care is the potential cost.  Of course, this raises a host of other questions:

  • How will you pay for it?
  • Will your children have to contribute financially?
  • Will you have to sell your home or take out a reverse mortgage?

Uninsured medical expenses are the top financial worry among men and women age 55+.  While two-thirds of people will actually need some long-term care, such as home care, assisted living, 
or nursing home care, after they reach age 65, only 35% of people believe they will need such care.  People greatly underestimate the financial, social, and lifestyle impact of caregiving responsibilities.

Long-Term Care: The Emotional Costs

The impact of caring for a loved one who requires long-term care goes far beyond monetary considerations.  Caregiving can create emotional stress between the person who needs care and his/her children, siblings, and children-in-law.  The time and emotional energy involved in caregiving will affect the caregiver’s marriage and the family dynamic.

Additionally, family disputes may arise if a loved one has not left instructions for his or care during that person’s disability.  Who will be in charge of making healthcare and financial decisions for that person?  Has the individual left instructions for end-of-life care?  Without proper instructions, the family may be required to turn to the courts to deal with these difficult issues.

Sometimes a family will pull together when a family member is ill; unfortunately, all too often caregiving can serve to tear a family apart.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Contrary to popular belief, Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care.  The only government benefits that pay for long-term care are Medicaid and Aid and Assistance available to certain military veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

As a result of the limited government availability of long-term care benefits, some people consider buying long-term care insurance.  Long-term care insurance has some benefits not available through government programs; it will often cover the cost of in-home care and assisted living; Medicare and Medicaid do not cover either.

Unfortunately, many people don’t explore long-term care insurance until too late.  Just as with life insurance, the price of long-term care insurance goes up as you get older.  Federal and state partnership programs for long-term care encourage people to buy long-term care as early as age 40, when people are younger and healthier and the premiums are more affordable.

Although we are not licensed insurance agents at the Law Office of Antoinette Bone, we suggest you investigate long-term care insurance for you and your loved ones.  We can offer referrals to someone who can assist you.  It can save your family’s assets from depletion and secure a spouse’s financial future, as well as reducing the emotional toll arising from disputes about how to pay for your care.

Not every insurance agent is knowledgeable about this type of insurance, so seek out someone with experience in the area.


[1]     Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2012

[2]        Genworth Study “Our Family, Our Future:  The Heart of Long-Term Care Planning, 2010