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Why should I worry about long-term care planning?

Most Michigan resident are accustomed to the idea of planning for the risk of loss in certain situations. For example, people purchase car and home insurance to protect themselves financially if they are involved in a serious accident or experience severe damage to their home. However, many people fail to engage in long term planning, even though the need is quite significant.

Statistical comparisons can provide a good idea of why long-term care planning is essential. For example, needing long-term care is 120 times more likely for elderly individuals than having a car accident. When compared with having a house fire, needing long-term care is 600 times more likely. In addition, the costs associated with long-term care can be over 20 times greater than costs associated with a car accident, so why would someone purchase insurance against car accidents but not plan for long-term care? If the need for long-term care arises and a person has not planned, it can create a significant life crisis for both the individual needing the care, as well as family or other intended care-givers. Although many people argue that they will not need long-term care, the statistics show that six out of ten people require some form of long-term are at some point during their lives.

There are several reasons that planning for long-term care has become more important. Many relate to longevity and health. As the average lifespan continues to increase, people are encountering a greater likelihood of suffering from dementia or other age-related conditions in their later years. Societal health characteristics, such as the growing number of people who are obese or overweight, also contribute to the rising number of those who will experience health problems requiring long-term care in the future.

Many people think that they can rely on their families to provide any long-term care that may be needed, but they fail to think through this plan completely. Because families are smaller and more dispersed now than they used to be, there are fewer people who are available to provide care as the number of people needing care rises. In addition, it is impossible to predict whether family members will be adequately positioned-financially or otherwise-to provide care when the need arises. Relying on government benefits is also not a wise strategy as the growing numbers of elderly people relying on those limited benefits is taxing the system.

Source: National Care Planning Council, "The Need for Long Term Care Planning," Thomas Day, last accessed Sept. 6, 2014

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