Today we took a drive I had been putting off for a while. We visited an assisted living facility.

No, we were not visiting a friend or relative. We went to check the place out as a future option for ourselves.

Charlie is thinking that it's time for us to consider such a move. I'm not so sure, at least not for me – yet. But we are a couple, and how do you justify one going one way and one the other if it can be avoided?

Those places are expensive!

The one we looked at is over $10,000 per month for the two of us for a two –bedroom apartment (Chuck insists we need two bedrooms because I snore – so does he, but that doesn't count). And that is the rate for independent living; the price per month rises, as more care is required. By the time memory care is required for one of us the price would be over $12,000 per month, with an estimated three percent per year rate increase!

The trick is to wait as long as you possibly can before moving to this type of facility so you don't outlive your money. If only someone could tell us how long we are going to live!

The place we visited was lovely. It was not the most expensive assisted living facility in our area either. I can't imagine what it must cost for the higher priced one.

There is another type of independent/assisted living place in the area that requires you to buy in (rates the last time I checked was $198,000 for a 2-bedroom) but with a much lower monthly fee – around $4000 and up depending on level of care required. Then, at such time as you depart this earth (and the apartment) your heirs get a 75 percent refund on the up-front cost of the apartment.

Either way, we are talking about a big chunk of money.

The other option, of course, would be a nursing home for one or both of us when the time comes that it can't be avoided. I haven't checked out nursing homes recently, but from what I have been told, a nursing home would cost as much or more than the assisted living option.

It's little wonder that so many families find themselves forced into being the caregivers for one (or more) loved ones. I say forced – some of us do it willingly and happily, feeling it is our duty to keep our loved one as comfortable as possible till the end. But we all know the cost on family life can be a nightmare.

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It takes its toll on every member of the household, and if you are reading the questions from caregivers posted on you know that the pressures plague extended family as well, sometimes tearing families apart.

As we live longer and longer, it's going to become vital that families start planning for long-term care like we plan for our children's college education. Unfortunately, we can't count on the long-term care being over at the end of four years. It could go on much longer, and become much more expensive.

What's a family to do? I wish I had the answers to that question.

In the meantime, I think Charlie and I will be marching in place for as long as possible.