Nursing care is a reality for many aging Americans, regardless of whether we plan for it or not. No one likes to think about the possibility of needing this sort of care, but life happens, and as we age, there is no guarantee that our health will keep up. Part of a bulletproof retirement plan is anticipating that we may need some sort of “in-facility” care as we age. Nursing homes, however, are a mixed bag of quality and price, and unfortunately, the price will likely dictate some of the comfort and care factors we hold dear.
Few people consider the staggering costs associated with a long term stay in a nursing facility. According to aarp.com, the average cost for a private room has climbed to over 100k a year. While there may be some government programs that *could* help with costs, your choices and personal tastes will be limited to what the program offers as far as facilities and room arrangements. That 100k figure will typically cover housing, nursing care, and food as well as basic needs. Many nursing homes will charge more based on the severity of needs as well as any “extras” you may require as part of your living arrangement.
While the average stay in a nursing home is under 3 years, this length of this stay alone can wreak havoc on a family’s finances. If one partner is in nursing care for any length of time, this can drain funds and leave the surviving partner without resources in retirement. Many people will find they are forced to sell their homes in order to pay for care. If there is a surviving partner, this upheaval can leave them being forced out of their home during an already emotionally stressful and fearful time. This is an all too common scenario in situations where nursing care was either not expected or ill-prepared for. A person can be committed to a nursing home for various reasons, including rehab from an injury, memory impairment, hazardous conditions, or extra medical care needed without resources available at home. Home care can be even costlier if 24 hours ‘round the clock care is needed.
When faced with a situation where nursing care becomes a necessity, there are other costs to consider besides just the financial. Those who are in need of care that can not be provided in their current environment often feel out of control and helpless among other feelings of fear, depression, and anger. Being in a position where you are unwillingly admitted is exacerbated by the fact that without the necessary funds, one will not have much choice in which facility and living arrangement they will move into. This further compounds the feelings of being out of control and fearful.
The emotional and mental cost extends not only to the new nursing home resident but can also be present for the family and friends surrounding. Not being able to care for or provide for a loved one can be extremely painful and watching someone you love go to a facility that would not be your first choice is even worse.
The true emotional cost of such a transition is difficult enough, and worrying about the cost and financial factors adds to an already heart-wrenching situation. If you don’t plan to have savings that would cover nursing home costs plus some, long term care insurance is available to help safeguard you and your partner during these times of need. Long term care insurance can be purchased at a reasonable amount earlier in life (you might consider somewhere around 60 give or take) and will help to cover the cost of not only in facility care but in home care depending on your policy. While it is hard to think about these scenarios, it is important to take this topic seriously and discuss purchasing long term care insurance with loved ones, your partner, and for yourself. If you are ever faced with this unfortunate situation, having long term care insurance can give you more choice and hopefully provide more peace of mind around your future and stability.