Do You Have a $230,000 Hole in Your Retirement Plan?

In a December 2012 article on titled A New Strategy for Paying for Long Term Care, author Kimberly Lankford presented some interesting strategies to pay for retirees’ future long-term care costs.  The article explains how some financial planners are starting to recommend combining a long-term care insurance policy along with dedicated savings to cover future long-term care needs.  The article says the average retiree needs to plan to spend $230,000 ($460,000 for a couple) to cover future long-term care costs.  To come up with the $230,000 figure they took the current daily average cost of care multiplied by the average stay in long-term care (which is 3 years).


I am not sure about you, but when I read the $230,000 number it definitely caught my attention!  That amount of money would substantially deplete most people’s retirement savings.  In my experience most retirees don’t have a plan for dealing with future long-term care needs.  Many people prefer to hope they won’t need assisted living or nursing home care.  The fact is, according to a recent report from Health and Human Services, 70% of people aged 65 and over will need long-term care at some point in their life.


So for those of you who want to make a plan, what are the options?  Perhaps your plan is to rely on your children to help if you ever need care.   If that is your plan, make sure your children know it.  Many retirees have no doubt seen that their children are changing jobs more, moving more, both spouses are working (or perhaps never married in the first place) and having children later.  Taken together, these societal changes mean that it is difficult for adult children to care for their aging parents.


Some people hope to stay home and bring in care.  This can work, but this plan comes with risks of its own.  Don’t forget at the same time you are paying $20 an hour for care in your home, you still have to maintain your house, pay for food, taxes, utilities etc. – all those costs add up very quickly!  And if you are expecting Medicare to pick up the tab for your long-term care, think again.  Medicare will only pay for short-term recuperative care, not the type of long-term care that most people over 65 will need.


People purchasing long-term care insurance consider it a way to offset the $230,000 average long-term care cost.  Purchasing insurance is a good way to offset the financial liability of future long-term care needs.  However, it does not fulfill one of the most crucial needs in a comprehensive plan for future care needs, which is where you will receive care if you need it.   Having long-term care insurance only means you will be able to pay for care, it does not assure you will receive quality care or even assure that you will receive care in a private room.  Unfortunately some financial planners may overlook these details when helping their clients create a financial road map for their retirement.


For more and more people, a time-tested solution to covering their long term care cost is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  Residents of CCRCs don’t need to worry about where they will go for care if they need it; care is available on-site.  CCRC residents also don’t need to worry about the quality of care they will receive, since CCRCs are known to provide a higher quality of care, and CCRC residents (and their families) have established relationships with the health care staff before they actually need care.  Perhaps most important is the financial security enjoyed by residents of CCRCs.  Those residents who  move to a non-profit CCRC like Virginia Baptist Homes (VBH) while they are still independent, and pay the corresponding entrance fee,  are purchasing assurance that if they genuinely outlive their resources the CCRC will assist in paying for their care.


The financial security and peace of mind that come with knowing there is a plan in place for their care  are the main reasons new residents moving to VBH CCRCs wish they would have made the move sooner.  As costs for long-term care continue to soar, more and more people will be seeking a refuge from those costs.  The costs are not going to go down.  You need to have a plan for your future care needs.  If you think a CCRC might be a good fit, start looking sooner rather than later because once you begin to need care, your options will be limited and you may not qualify for independent living at a CCRC.


If you would like more information about a VBH community, please contact me at 804-521-9276 or  Our counselors will be happy to talk with you about how a CCRC can fit in to your future plans.

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