When my client Heather called, I knew something was wrong. Usually upbeat, this time her voice trembled. She told me her father had a stroke. He was unable to talk, unable to think clearly, and unable to get around like he did before. Heather knew the roles were now reversed; she was the one who would care for her father now. Unfortunately for Heather and her husband Tom, who are in their mid-40s, working full-time and parents of three little girls, there was no way they could do it all on their own. They needed to find someone to help.SEE MORE Even in Good Times, a ‘Silent Stalker’ Can Raid Your Retirement Plan
Heather’s father had little money, living only on Social Security. Medicare does not cover long-term care for more than 100 days, and they couldn’t afford to pay someone themselves. Medicaid was the only option. After several months of back and forth with government officials, Tom and Heather eventually got her father approved for Medicaid. But this was only the start.
In their search for his new home, they were soon disheartened to learn their choice of long-term care facilities was limited because he was a Medicaid paying patient. The facility manager said they did not have any more Medicaid beds available. Unfortunately, this happens. Their second choice was also full. Much to their chagrin, the only facility available to their likening was 63.5 miles away. They had to do it. They could not afford the cost on their own and they had to take what Medicaid gave them.
Fortunately, Heather’s father is doing better. Later, I asked Heather what she learned from all of this. Without hesitation, she said it made her think about her own future. She said she wanted to make plans now and didn’t want to “rely on the government for her own long-term care.” She also did not want to be dependent on her kids for help. She asked for some suggestions.How to plan for long-term care
Heather and I went through several long-term care planning ideas. (For a deeper look at the options, please read How to Afford Long-Term Care.) Heather is young and healthy, which gives her more options than those who are older or whose health has deteriorated. We discussed self-insuring — saving money in a Health Savings Account and/or a designated stoc