Plan now for long-term medical care

The acknowledgement that we are not invincible and will potentially need a contingency plan for medical care and assistance one day is not something that all people are anxious to make. After all, many do not want to advertise their weaknesses or humble themselves to ask for help.

However, planning ahead for long-term care is a financial and lifestyle decision that is prudent — and one that should be begun early in a person’s working career. Failing to have a plan in place means family members and yourself will be forced to make important decisions when a crisis arises, or at worst at a time when you may not be physically or mentally in shape to make choices. It may also mean you have to expend more money or risk getting taken advantage of in your infirmed state, something that may be avoided if you plan ahead.

As soon as you begin earning a stable salary, and definitely when you get married and start a family, it is a wise idea to sit down with a financial and estate planner and talk about the steps to take to reach some semblance of financial freedom in your golden years. These discussions should most definitely touch on options for managed care or assisted living, should that route be needed. After a plan is in place, here are some other steps to take.

 Create a filing system to house your pertinent documents, such as social security number and information, bank statements and safe deposit box information, any and all insurance plans or investments, tax records, and any will information. Also, leave the name of your financial consultant, attorney, accountant, etc.

 Set up an executor for your estate or a friend/relative you trust whom you tell where your important financial and health records are stored.

 Adjust your life insurance and other policies to reflect new beneficiaries as your family evolves. Talk to your advisor about how you can contribute more to such policies as your level of income grows.

 Visit and become familiar with the different types of senior care available. Learn the differences between nursing homes, assisted living, independent living, and so on.

Remember that long-term care is not just for the elderly. Research indicates that about 40 percent of care recipients are people under the age of 65 who have suffered an accident or illness, so it pays to become educated now.

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