May is Older Americans Month, a Great Time for Younger Americans to Plan for the Future and Start Asking the Right Questions

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With the US Administration on Aging designating May as “Older Americans Month,” it is a great time for younger Americans to plan for the huge financial and emotional risks of long-term care and the new world of the federal Deficit Reduction Act.

The US Administration on Aging has designated May as “Older Americans Month.” It’s a great time for people to think about the plans they've made for a secure future.

Healthy pre-retirees look forward to and plan for an active future. But smart planning involves a lot of legwork. And contingency planning -- for when something goes wrong -- is crucial.

With new federal law that makes it in most people's best interests to plan for long-term care in advance instead of relying on public aid, this is a good time to ask some important questions. The Deficit Reduction Act is another step the federal and state governments are taking to protect the Medicaid system and not allow those with assets from using this welfare program when they can easily and cheaply plan for it in advance.

Matt McCann, a nationally known speaker and specialist in long-term care planning says most people will tell you that long-term care will not happen to them or, if it does, it will happen for a short period of time a very long time from now.

"Many people are in denial but common sense will tell you we are all living to older ages. When we age what happens? The answer: we get sick, we have accidents, we get frail and we need help, care either in our own homes or in a facility of some kind," McCann said.

McCann says that in our culture, planning for old age sounds a little like throwing in the towel. Many of today’s baby boomers do not plan on ever being the kind of old person who needs assistance -- and this attitude will not serve them well when reality hits. The federal government says that half of us will need some form of long-term care during our lifetime. McCann says this means we need to be thinking about it before the time comes where we require care.

McCann says reality may not have much to do with the active retirement most people have in mind. Active retirement includes travel, and other pursuits that they didn't have time to pursue before. He says this stage of retirement lasts until one of the following happens:

They run out of money; or

Their health declines and they need long-term care.

"Smart people plan to avoid running out of money, and also plan for the day their health declines. When a person's health declines, that's when their expenses often escalate dramatically – to pay for long-term care. This cost is not covered by Medicare and traditional health insurance," McCann said.

Since May is “Older Americans Month” it’s a great time, according to McCann, for adults to think about the plans they've made for a secure future. Financially, most American's have paid into social security, and are aware of the importance of saving for retirement. They have IRA's, 401ks and other retirement savings but they may not have considered how they will pay for long-term care. The risk of needing care is the biggest risk to a person's savings when they hit retirement.

Here are some questions to ask:

1. If you or a spouse required care where would you like to receive it, at home or in assisted living or nursing home?

2. Where would the money to pay for this care from? Which account would you start spending down first? How would this impact your lifestyle and the future lifestyle of the healthy spouse?

3. What impact would lack of planning have on your spouse and children? Which child you be the lead child in making decisions. How would this burden impact his or her family?

4. What kind of legacy are you wanting to leave your family after you pass? This means more than just money ... it means the memories you will leave.

5. Would long-term care insurance provide the money and services to help take care of these future problems?

A specialist in long-term care insurance can help in answering these questions.

"People need to look into long-term care insurance, or, if you have a policy, call your agent to make sure your policy has kept up with the cost of long-term care," McCann said.

"Time is our enemy when planning for our finances. Those of us who are still young and healthy need to plant the seeds now for a spectacular retirement," he said.

Let the facts provided by the Administration on Aging provide motivation:

Most older people have at least one chronic medical condition, and many have multiple conditions. 495 have hypertension, 31% have heart disease; 15% have diabetes. 16.8% of older Americans live in poverty or near-poverty. Half of older women age 75+ live alone (without a caregiver in the house).

By the year 2030, the age 65+ population will have more than doubled.

"Denial is the only reason people don't plan ahead for long-term care. This is why denial is such a danger to our future," McCann said.

McCann says since long-term care insurance is very affordable and asks why would anyone not want to protect the lifestyle they are used to and make sure they are able to obtain quality care with the least burden on their family.

McCann, a Darien, Illinois resident, is a specialist on long-term care insurance and speaks to groups and organizations on long-term care issues. His web site offers additional information, His office number is 800-862-8311.

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