A recent article in the Tallahassee Democrat reveals that a high percentage of Floridians are not prepared for the financial liability of long-term care. The article says, "A startling statistic from the Transamerica report reveals that 46% of those surveyed plan to rely on family and friends for care, disregarding the specialized assistance long-term care specialists can provide."
October's designation as Long-Term Care Planning Month presents an essential opportunity to confront a pressing concern for the people of Florida – the affordability of long-term care.
A recent poll by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies paints a disconcerting picture: just 23% of today's retirees believe they can comfortably navigate their retirement years. When it comes to long-term care, only 14% of retirees express confidence in their ability to cover the costs of the assistance they may require.
Long-term care encompasses a range of personalized services that many individuals will need in their later years. As aging brings inevitable health challenges, a substantial portion of retirees will find themselves facing the expenses associated with assisted living, home healthcare, or nursing home care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of Americans in their retirement years will require ongoing care, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.
What's particularly alarming is the financial anxiety generated by this lack of confidence. Retirees and those approaching retirement fear a decline in their health that may necessitate long-term care, with the specter of costs looming large. These concerns compound with fears of outliving savings and uncertainties regarding Social Security's ability to bridge the financial gap.
The financial burden of long-term care is formidable. For instance, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home stands at approximately $9,000 per month. While long-term care insurance is designed to help with these expenses, it remains unaffordable for many aging workers due to high and escalating premiums. Furthermore, many Americans lack awareness of the scope and benefits of long-term care insurance, making it an underutilized resource in retirement planning.
A concerning statistic from the Transamerica report reveals that 46% of respondents plan to rely on family and friends for care, overlooking the specialized assistance that long-term care specialists can offer. Additionally, 31% of retirees admit to having no plan whatsoever for long-term care, leaving them unprepared and vulnerable.
So, what can be done? Education and awareness are our most powerful tools in addressing this crisis. Floridians must understand their options, including long-term care insurance, the importance of making informed decisions early on, and the untapped resources available to them. The legal community, including the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar, continues to play an active role in disseminating this crucial information, ensuring that our citizens are equipped to make sound financial and healthcare choices in their later years.
Moreover, these legal experts possess the knowledge and experience necessary to help craft comprehensive long-term care plans tailored to individual needs, including vital elements like wills, trusts, and explicit care wishes. Their guidance not only ensures financial prudence but also guarantees that one's most intimate desires are respected in their twilight years.
Crucially, these plans, when established with the assistance of a skilled attorney, are remarkably affordable compared to the exorbitant costs that can arise in the absence of a proper plan. Beyond financial considerations, involving an elder law attorney in the planning process acts as a safeguard against family discord, particularly among adult children, by offering clarity and preventing potential disputes.
Reference: Tallahassee Democrat (October 31, 2023), Ensuring a secure future: The urgency of long-term care planning for Floridians