I was in a MS Society support group for people with loved ones diagnosed with MS. One of the things we learned was how important it is for spouses to have a plan for their long-term care. Because our spouses may not be there for us when we’ll need care, we must look to the future and be sure we’ll have the support we may need.
My focus was so fine-tuned on my husband’s needs, I would never have thought of this on my own. But I realized I needed to be compassionate for myself as well as for my husband. Overcoming my aversion to even considering that he might die and leave me alone, I decided to heed the advice we’d been given. I was fortunate that I was able to take out long-term care insurance early on, before it became prohibitively expensive. My policy provides for in-home care as well as assisted living and nursing home coverage. Today, however, these insurance companies are having difficulty making a profit and some have left the market. Qualifying for care is a problem, also, if you have an existing medical condition. Still, it may be worth investigating this option.
But long-term care insurance is not the only way to pay for your future care. Below are some other options.
- Pay with Your Own Funds. This is what most people do, at least for as long as funds last. If you can set aside a substantial amount of money for this every month, you may be able to pay as you go, at least for a while. Yet, as you may already know if you’ve researched care options for your spouse, private care can be very expensive, often more than $26/hour. Assisted living facilities can run between $2,800 to $4,500 a month or more. Skilled nursing facilities are even more expensive, averaging around $8,000 a month. If you’re paying with your own funds, you’d probably run out of money before then.
When my father was disabled, I had to spend down his money in order to give him the care he needed. That led me to enroll him in the next option as a last resort.
- Medicaid or, in California, Medi-Cal. This is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for people with limited income. Unlike Medicare, it pays for nursing home care and personal services. It will not pay for the costs of assisted living facilities. Limited funds are available for in-home care. It’s a complicated procedure to qualify for Medicare or Medi-Cal, but in the end, it may be your best choice. If you think you may need this, start keeping track of your care expenditures early. More information on that can be found at https://www.medicaid.govand https://www.coveredca.com/medi-cal/
- Reverse Mortgage. On more option, if you’re a senior and own your own home, is to take out a reverse mortgage. This gives you funds for your care, the amount depending on the value of your home. More information on that can be found at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hecm/hecmhome
Whatever you do, remember to have compassion for yourself as well as for your loved-one. Often, we’re so absorbed in being a caregiver that we forget to care for ourselves. Please don’t let that happen.