As a young adult launching a career and family, you probably had a master plan of sorts, full of various questions for moving forward.
When and where did you want to buy a house?
How much life insurance should you buy?
What was the best way to save for college costs?
Now that you’re an older adult and those questions have been answered, it’s time to tackle new questions. But first, let’s start with some statistics from the Ohio Department of Insurance:
- Life expectancy after age 65 has now increased to 17.9 years, up from 1940 when life expectancy after age 65 was only 13 extra years.
- The longer people live, the greater the chances they will need assistance due to chronic conditions.
- In Ohio in 2005, five percent of all people age 65 and older resided in a nursing home.
Long Term Care
While no one can accurately predict future health challenges, planning for such a possibility is smart given today’s increased longevity and growing medical costs. (The Ohio Department of Insurance estimates a skilled nursing center in Ohio could cost $73,000 or more a year).
Moving to a continuing care retirement community is one way to guarantee you will have access to long term care services if you need them. With about 2,000 such communities in the U.S., fees and services vary, but they share a common approach, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
“You move into a CCRC as a resident of an independent housing unit where you can usually purchase and receive support services. When you need more care or are unable to live independently, you can move to the assisted living facility on campus. Should you need the next level of care, you can move into the on-site nursing home.”
For couples, this tiered approach could allow one person to live independently, while the spouse receives a higher level of care. For the resident’s children, a life plan community can offer support and peace of mind.
Long-term care insurance is another option to consider. Policies provide a variety of services and supports in your home, retirement community or other setting.
According to the federal government, the cost of your policy is based on:
- How old you are when you buy the policy;
- The maximum amount that a policy will pay per day;
- The maximum number of days (years) that a policy will pay;
- Any optional benefits you choose.
The cost of purchasing long term care insurance varies greatly, and premiums often increase over time. AARP recommends people interested in buying insurance consider several sources, including individual plans, employer-sponsored plans and state partnership programs.
Most state government insurance departments provide helpful consumer information about both long term care and insurance.
Access to Transportation
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent. But the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age.”
As you consider moving to a new home, think about transportation options. Most life plan communities provide some assistance that may be included in the monthly fee. Find out what kind of transportation is available for medical appointments as well as social outings and errands, and any additional costs. What is the geographic service area? Are buses and other public transportation available in the community?
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are becoming a popular and affordable option for young and old, but the service is not available everywhere, especially in small and rural communities.
Nonprofit agencies such as The Independent Transportation Network® (ITN) provide affordable, door-to-door service for older adults. Check with the local United Way or county aging office to see what transportation services are available.
Advance Care Planning
You’ve probably have been asked by a health care provider if you have an Advance Directive. If your answer is “no,” make a commitment to yourself and your family to take action now.
Everyone should have an Advance Directive, but especially older adults. The legal documents are a powerful tool to express your medical wishes if you are unable to express them for yourself.
There are two different types of Advance Directives:
- Medical Power of Attorney, in which you name a person to make decisions and speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself;
- A Living Will is a written set of instructions regarding your preferences for healthcare and goes into effect if you are terminally ill, unable to make decision for yourself, or are permanently unconscious.
You do not need a lawyer to fill out the directives, but most directives require a notary and witnesses. Advance Directives vary state by state. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides free forms for each state.
Make copies of the directives and give to family members, doctors, your local hospital and anyone else might be involved in your health care.
Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years.