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8 Critical Mistakes Seniors Make with Long-Term Care Planning

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January 14, 2021 Long Term Care Planning

The long-term care planning process can be complicated and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Avoiding these eight critical mistakes is vital to ensure you can better protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones in the face of a long-term care stay.


If you need answers immediately on how to protect yourself from a long-term care need, we encourage you to try our FREE online planning wizard which will outline your planning options within minutes. Our free planning wizard will provide your planning category, savings estimates, and insightful information about any potential problem assets you may own. It will also reveal which products may apply to your situation.

Now, let's discuss the 8 Most Common Critical Mistakes that seniors make when planning for long-term care.


1. Assuming you will not require care

If you are healthy, it can be difficult to realize you may eventually require long-term care. The reality is that at least 70% of seniors will need some form of long-term care during their lives, which means you are more likely to require care than not. Unfortunately, failing to plan ahead can be financially devastating. The average stay in an assisted living facility is three years, and the average stay in a nursing home is 2.3 years.


Since long-term care costs can run upwards of $8,000 per month, many seniors risk depleting their life savings in less than a few years. The numbers make it clear: planning for your long-term care is crucial.


2. Believing your spouse or children will be able to care for you


Assuming your spouse will care for you:

As you grow older, you might assume your spouse will care for you at home if you need it. However, caring for someone around the clock is no easy task, regardless of how much you love them. Caregiving is a 24/7 job that can be both physically and emotionally taxing, and breaks are not regularly available. Long-term care also often requires special equipment and expensive modifications to the home, which are simply not feasible for many couples.

You must also consider your spouse’s physical abilities. What if you require assistance getting into and out of your bed, wheelchair, or bathtub? What if you have an emergency and your spouse is unable to provide the care you need? The staff at a long-term care facility is specifically trained to handle situations like this. Additionally, providing round-the-clock care leaves little room to take care of other tasks, such as going grocery shopping, running errands, and cleaning the house.


Assuming your children will care for you:

As much as your kids love and appreciate everything you’ve done for them throughout their lives, caregiving is a lot to ask of them. Have you had this discussion with your children? Similar to assuming your spouse will be able to care for you, this raises a number of questions that you should discuss with them.

  • Is their home equipped to handle your care?
  • Do they have the finances to handle your care needs?
  • What impact would this have on their life?
  • If they have a job and family of their own, will they be able to devote the necessary time and attention to your care?
  • If they take a leave of absence from work or leave their job entirely, are they prepared to reenter the workforce at an older age?
  • Are they comfortable taking care of vulnerable needs, such as bathing?
  • Will they be able to provide the quality of care you need?

In many cases, exploring the reality of the situation eliminates this option. Even if your children want to care for you, they often don’t have the time, resources, or training that is required.


Assuming your spouse or children will take care of you might be very appealing since you trust them, and you likely prefer to stay where you feel comfortable. In-home care can be a viable option for certain seniors, depending on the level of care required.

To learn about the average cost of in-home care in your area or get an estimate of how much you could save on care costs, use our free calculator. It’s easy to use and can provide great insight into your care options.


3. Following the wrong advice

The unfortunate reality is that many people fail to plan ahead while they are young and healthy. In these cases, if you end up developing a need for care in your later years, you might look to your immediate circle of family or friends for advice. This circle may also include caseworkers, doctors, CPAs, or financial professionals you have worked with in the past. The problem lies when you take advice about planning for long-term care from people who have limited knowledge on the subject or people who are not licensed to give legal or financial advice. This mistake can backfire and prevent you from qualifying for benefits or saving on care costs. As you can imagine, this only intensifies the concerns and frustrations you’re already feeling.


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4. Worrying about the cost of working with an attorney

Yes, similar to other professional services, you must pay an attorney in order to put a sound long-term care plan in place. Since they provide legal advice tailored to your specific situation, an attorney is an essential ally for you to have during the long-term care planning process.  Although you might be concerned about the cost of working with an attorney, it’s important to understand that legal fees are minuscule compared to the cost of a nursing home. Besides, when it comes to protecting yourself, your assets, and your loved ones, cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Since long-term care facilities can cost more than $8,000 per month, you risk depleting your life savings on care costs in a few years or less. On the other hand, paying a few legal fees, though they may be hefty, can potentially save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end, the cost of paying an attorney is nothing compared to neglecting to plan ahead and paying out of pocket for your care.

Find out how much you could be saving on care by using this simple cost estimation tool. This FREE tool not only shows you how much you could be saving but also helps you understand how long you may be able to afford your care.


5. Not properly protecting your assets

Like most seniors, you have worked hard your entire life so you can live the life you want, provide for your family, and enjoy your retirement. Unfortunately, a long-term care need can upend these plans and deplete your entire nest egg in a matter of months or years. The reality is that 75% of single people and 50% of couples will exhaust their life savings within one year of entering a nursing home. That’s why it’s crucial to plan in advance with tools like an irrevocable trust, which can shelter your assets from paying for care costs, or Long-Term Care Insurance, which can cover care costs while protecting your other assets. You can also strategically gift your assets to your children or other loved ones as long as it is done at least five years before you require care.


6. Waiting until it’s too late

Although any plan is better than no plan, waiting too long to address your long-term care needs can mean paying out of pocket for care. That’s why it’s important to act now while you’re still healthy. No matter what, planning ahead is the best course of action, even when it’s not pleasant to think about requiring care down the road. In order to plan effectively using tools like trusts, Long-Term Care Insurance, and gifting, you need to understand the Medicaid lookback period. To bypass the Medicaid lookback period, these tools must be used at least five years before you require long-term care. Otherwise, you risk incurring a penalty period of ineligibility, during which you are unable to receive Medicaid benefits. That said, if you end up requiring long-term care before you have a plan in place or within the five-year period, you still have options.

When it comes to Long-Term Care Insurance, being healthy is key. Multiple health conditions can automatically disqualify you from receiving coverage. Plus, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper your premiums will be. If you would like to explore this option further, you’ll want to do so sooner rather than later.

Regardless of your situation, in order to ensure your plan has the best chance of succeeding, take advantage of all the time you have.

Read More: When Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?


7. Not taking the time to learn about your options

When planning for your long-term care, you likely have more than one way to go about protecting yourself and your assets. Therefore, it’s important to educate yourself on the different options available to you and speak with professionals to learn more about implementing those plans. Establishing a trust, purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance, and giving away your assets are only three potential options. Plus, what worked for a friend or family member might not work for you. The key is to sit down and meet with a professional to learn what options are best for your specific situation.

Learning more about your options is step one. To get started, we recommend educating yourself with the free materials we offer here at Senior Care Counselor. Once you familiarize yourself with this information, you can meet with a professional, decide what will work best for you, and move forward with implementing the plan.

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8. Planning for everything else but not long-term care

Although the majority of people plan ahead and set aside funds for vacations, weddings, retirement, and other important life events, many fail to plan for the long-term care they are likely to require. Unlike these other life-changing moments, long-term care can potentially drain all your hard-earned assets in a matter of months.

Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets and get started now. Educate yourself, meet with a professional, and implement your plan. And remember, until all of your assets are gone, it’s not too late to discuss your options and put a plan in place. Saving only 30% of your assets is still better than losing it all. Whether you’re just getting started exploring your options or you’re already residing in a nursing home, it’s not too late.


Need free planning advice? call us today! (844) 412-4222



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