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Failure to plan for the long-term is costly

Medical care for retirees is expensive. The average median cost of a semi-private nursing home room is $85,775, while the cost of a home health aide is roughly $49,192. These costs cannot be ignored, and there are several guidelines for long-term planning that can help meet these expenses.

First, determine where this care should be provided. If health permits, a home health care aide can come to a client's home to assist with daily activities. When more help is needed, an assisted-living facility may be necessary. Determining care preferences can help narrow options for long-term nursing home care. These include a traditional long-term care insurance policy or a hybrid cash-value life insurance policy. Paying out-of-pocket for self-insurance is another option for those who have more financial resources.

Although an assisted-living facility may be unnecessary, lack of preparation can lower quality of life or the care that is ultimately provided. Earlier payment decisions may provide more options. In addition to finances, a person must also plan for the day they may not be able to make their own medical decisions because they have become incapacitated or they cannot communicate. Without this planning, there may be confusion about the person's wishes at a particularly stressful time.

Through a health-care power of attorney or proxy, a trusted individual is designated to oversee health care decisions and ensure that physicians comply with a person's wishes concerning their care. This is especially important when end-of-life decisions are being made about continuing care that might be unwanted.

Likewise, a person may not be able to make competent financial decisions. One or two qualified and trusted individuals may be appointed under a durable power of attorney to make important business and financial decisions and handle matters, such as paying bills.

An attorney can provide options and help seek the best available care within a person's resources. They may also help assure that valid legal documents are drafted to help a person when they are older.

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