No adult child wants to talk to their parents about long-term care, but it’s an important – and necessary – discussion to have.
Many older adults have no long-term care in place despite the fact that 48% of adults aged 65 and older will require long-term care for up to one year.
Creating a plan for care and figuring out how you will finance that care can help make the situation as stress-free as possible when the need arises.
1. Discuss Their Financial Situation
Before you start weighing your options, it’s important to have a clear picture of your parents’ finances in terms of savings and cash flow.
- Savings accounts
- Social Security benefits
- Retirement funds
- Other sources of income
Knowing how much income your parents have will help you better understand your options. Keep in mind that income and assets are two different things. Assets, like real estate, can be sold in the future to pay off debt if necessary.
2. Discuss Long-Term Care Options
Long-term care doesn’t always mean putting your parents into a nursing home. There are many different types of care options, which means you can plan for and adapt to your parents’ care needs as they age.
In addition to nursing homes, there are also:
- Residential group homes
- Adult day services
- Assisted living facilities
- Home health care services
Many of these options are less expensive than nursing home care and may be a good fit if the person doesn’t have medical needs.
Make sure that your parents are included in this discussion. They have a right to choose their care.
Also, make sure that you have contingency plans. You can’t predict the type of care that your parents will need, but it is helpful to know which options are available and which ones your parents prefer.
Once you have an idea of what type of care will work for your parents, you can start researching available care programs.
If one or both of your parents is a veteran, the Veterans Aid and Attendance program may be an option. Offered by the Veterans Administration, this little-known program offers up to $1,830 per month for those who have served as little as 90 days during a time of war and up to $1,176 for surviving spouses. There are income and asset restrictions, but this program may help pay for long-term care if your parents qualify.
Medicaid is another option. Assistance is often limited to those with low income and assets, but the rules are different in each state. Keep in mind that your parents may not qualify if a substantial amount of assets were transferred to another person’s name within the last few years.
Local community organizations may also offer assistance to older adults who need help paying for long-term care.
4. Sell a Home
Real estate assets can provide a substantial sum of money for long-term care, especially if your parents have already paid off their mortgage.
While it may be difficult to sell the family home, it may be a necessary step to pay for care without having to go into debt.