Many events can trigger the need for long-term care. Some children are born with an ailment that requires long-term care. Accidents and many diseases can strike anyone, at any age. Such events don’t just affect one person; their whole family is affected. Even setting aside tragic events, most people will need long-term care at some point in their lives. That point is difficult to predict since some people age faster than others.
Regardless of the age at which it is needed, long-term care is the most significant financial burden older Americans face. It’s not unusual for a nursing home in the Boston area today to charge $120,000 a year. Home care can cost even more.
A colleague of mine has been helping a sick relative struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. He was surprised to learn that Medicare did not cover nursing home costs. Another colleague endured a lengthy divorce and custody battle while caring for her sick child. Needless to say, the time involved—and the stress—was considerable, partly because her husband was asserting a claim to her parent’s home in which she owned a share. Each suffered employment consequences as a result, and one ultimately declared bankruptcy. Better planning could have made it easier for each of them by protecting certain assets against the risk of high, long-term care expenses.