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Finding a Solution: The True Cost of Aging in America

Finding a Solution: The True Cost of Aging in America

People are living longer than ever before. At first, that sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t want more years to spend with their loved ones? Unfortunately, many people are paying the price for their long lives. Long-term care, particularly in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, can quickly become expensive. Nationwide, it costs an average of $43,200 a year to live in an assisted living facility. Move to a nursing home and that cost skyrockets to over $80,000 for a semi-private room or $90,000 for a private room. In some areas of the country, it’s even higher. In California, for example, the cost of a private room in a nursing home averages around $100,000 a year.These costs simply aren’t affordable for many aging adults, especially for those who never planned to outlive their retirement income so substantially. While advances in medicine have made it possible for aging adults to live high-quality lives longer than ever before, unfortunately, in many cases, their retirement savings are depleted long before that point. The solution? “Aging in place,” which allows adults to stay in their own homes for longer. Here are some of the options to make this a more viable solution.

Home Care Services

Home care services, which may be paid for by Medicaid, allow elderly individuals to get the care that they need in their own homes. They can receive basic medical care services, help with personal care, and even get transportation to and from medical appointments. In some cases, home care services will also include meal preparation or provision. The median cost of six hours of care from a home health aide is around $30,000 per year — much less expensive than an assisted living or nursing home facility. In addition, some individuals need less assistance than others, which reduces these expenses. It is for this reason that Medicaid has programs in place that provide home care for many individuals who do not require institutional care.

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Adult Day Care

Adult day care is more than just a place where your elderly loved one will be looked after in a secure setting. It’s also an opportunity for them to socialize, participate in activities, and have their basic medical needs seen to. The median cost of adult day care is $17,904 per year. If no other home care services are necessary, adult day care can significantly improve an aging individual’s ability to keep their retirement savings in place for much longer than if they had been in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

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Home Modification

When your elderly loved one purchased their home, they likely weren’t considering their needs as they aged. Things like wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, and accessibility options for showers and bathtubs can drastically improve your loved one’s ability to remain in their own home. While Medicaid and Medicare may do not cover physical modifications to the home, some states offer special pilot programs that can help with home modifications. If your state does not cover these modifications, they are acceptable expenditures in terms of using your loved one’s existing assets and can be used to lower that asset amount to meet Medicaid thresholds. The Medicaid “spend down” can be quite complex for the uninitiated, and it is therefore recommended that you reach out to a long-term care Medicaid eligibility expert or educate yourself fully and learn as much as you can about the process.

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Looking Forward

While the current health care model is working, it’s evident that the state cannot support the needs of an aging population indefinitely. Many revisions are needed to the system in order to ensure high-quality care for aging individuals in America. It’s going to take personal planning as well as public planning to avoid a crisis. Going forward, retirement age may shift to reflect the change in life expectancy. Improving the health of older adults to allow them to remain active and productive members of society longer will also contribute to the solution — but it’s not a perfect fix. In addition to steps taken by the population as a whole, personal planning is necessary in order to ensure that aging adults will be able to provide for their own needs for the duration of their lives.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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