Everyday Cheapskate: Prepare today for possible future

Face it: People are living longer than ever, and health care costs are climbing every year. Which brings me to the subject of long-term care. You might assume it’s just about nursing homes, but it refers to more. Long-term care means getting the assistance you need at home as well.

You could live to 100 and never need long-term care. You could end up needing assistance in daily living long before retirement, or you could fit somewhere in between.

Maybe your knees go. Or your eyes. Or you become a little too forgetful. No one likes to think about it, but the human body is not built to live forever. You need to be informed and prepared.

Long-term care insurance usually covers the costs for care that aren’t picked up by regular health insurance or Medicare. If you need assistance to properly feed, clothe or bathe yourself, long-term care insurance could pay the bill, depending on the type and amount of coverage you buy. But because it’s expensive, long-term care insurance isn’t typically a product lower-income individuals are able to afford.

If you’re middle-class, you’re likely to be hit the hardest by the high cost of long-term care because you’re likely to spend most of your assets if you require extended long-term assistance. You may not qualify for Medicaid assistance, yet paying your own bills for long-term care could break you.

If you’ve got a lot of dough (assets of $1 million or more), you probably can pay for your own long-term care from savings and investments, although you might want insurance anyway to preserve your estate for your kids or grandkids. If you fall into this category, make sure you are working with a reputable financial planner who can assist you in setting up your finances so you are not bombarded by taxes and inflation.

More than likely, you need a variety of investments and insurance policies working together for you. If you need a referral for a reputable financial planner, I recommend you look for a fee-only professional in your area. The National Association of Personal Financial Planners website is a good place to locate an adviser.

If you opt for long-term care insurance, plan on paying dearly over many years for coverage you may or may not use. That’s the way insurance works. If you don’t think there’s any way that you’ll be able to afford the premiums, all is not lost. Perhaps some of these options will work in your situation to help you fund your long-term care needs:

• Save enough money during working years to pay for your care. Start now!

• Endeavor to remain healthy enough so as not to require outside care. Fire up the treadmill; join a gym.

• Pay to live in an assisted-care community, which may include some personal assistance along with room and board. Shop around.

• Look for other sources of funding, such as a life insurance riders or reverse mortgage.

Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014.