According to CareConversations.org, as much as 70% of individuals will need some form of long-term care in their golden years. Yet, very few families actually plan for the day when an elderly loved one can no longer live on his or her own. If you and your loved ones do not take long-term care planning steps sooner rather than later, you may find yourself saddled with ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars in long-term care expenses. You can prevent that from happening by planning ahead. 

Though the options for care and coverage vary from state to state, there are some universal truths you should know about financing long-term care. The first and most important is that Medicare — the federal government’s health insurance program for older Americans — will pay for long-term care. This is a costly myth. Though Medicare will pay for short-term stays in nursing homes, hospice care and home health care, it will only do so in very specific situations. It also does not pay for custodial care, which entails help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and eating. 

Some families hope to rely on Medicaid for financial assistance. Medicaid, unlike Medicare, will cover the cost of long-term care services in most cases. However, only low-income families qualify for coverage. Income limits vary from state to state and change annually. 

If you are like the majority of Atlanta families, you do not qualify for Medicaid, which means you need a more permanent solution than Medicare. Long-term care insurance is probably your best bet. Ideally, you should purchase this coverage in your early to mid-50s. If you do not have enough coverage, or if you lack coverage entirely, you may have to use your personal savings and income to pay for long-term care.