People spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy setting aside enough money to fund their retirements but not nearly enough effort thinking about where they may end up in their golden years. With people living longer and neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's on the rise, it's equally important to consider and plan for a future in which you may need help with day-to-day tasks. If you think assisted living may be an option for you, here are three preplanning tasks you should do.
Research Housing Markets
Currently, a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted-living facility costs $3,500 per month. However, like any other type of real estate, the price can vary wildly depending on where the facility is located. In Montana, the monthly cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,559.
You need to consider how much money you're likely to have in your later years plus any financial resources that may be available to you at the time and search for assisted-living communities in areas that match your price range. The younger you start, the more flexibility you'll have in where you will reside because you can build in the cost of living in a particular area into your retirement savings plan. However, you'll also need to keep an eye on the market in your preferred city. Real estate is dynamic, and a place that was once affordable can fall out of reach as people migrate to the city, increasing property values in the process.
You'll also want to make sure the area and assisted-living facility have everything you want. You can unintentionally waste a lot of money moving around from place to place in search of the perfect home. Take your time in selecting an area that supports your needs and lifestyle to keep your costs as low as possible.
Start Estate Planning
The second thing you need to do is organize your estate to maximize your financial resources and protect yourself if there ever comes a time when your mental capacity becomes limited. The older you are, the more aggressive you will need to be about this aspect of assisted-living planning. As noted previously, the rent on an assisted-living facility can get quite expensive, and you need to ensure you have enough money to pay your living expenses for the rest of your life.
More importantly, though, you will need to make sure you have certain legal documents in place to protect you if you become unable to make decisions or understand what's happening around you due to disease or an accident. For example, no matter your age, you should develop a living will that details your wishes and preferences in certain situations (e.g., what to do when you're comatose). This can help guide relatives and caregivers about how to handle issues that may come up while they are caring for you.
You may want to consult with an estate-planning attorney who can advise you on the best way to organize your estate and the paperwork needed to support you in your later years.
Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance
One thing that can help defray the cost of being in an assisted-living facility is long-term care insurance. This financial product is designed to pay healthcare expenses if you fall ill or simply need help with daily living tasks. Depending on your policy, you may get financial help with paying for visiting nurses, chore services, and even rent at an assisted-living facility.
Ideally, you should sign up for this insurance when you're young because that's when you'll get the best rates. However, you can usually still qualify for a plan if you are middle aged. You don't want to wait too long, though, as many companies have age cutoffs after which you may not longer be eligible to get a policy.
For more tips on assisted-living preplanning you can do or to get a place for yourself or a loved one, contact a manager at a local facility.