When it comes to aging parents, the goal is to make certain they are safe and secure, yet independent, too. Most parents don't want to end up living with their children. Being able to care for themselves, or to be around others their own age that grew up in the same era, is really what the majority of older adults want.

For couples, however, the goal is to live together at home for as long as possible. Therefore, spouses must work together to develop their care plans, keeping each other's future wants and needs in mind.

Planning for the Future

Living for today is the way that most of us approach our lives, tackling financial speed bumps and other issues as they happen.

The problem is that the years can quickly pass by. Before you know it, the children have grown up and left to start their own families. By the time all of this has happened, you and your spouse will probably have reached that age where you will start thinking about your retirement and how you will be able to spend the rest of your lives together; "till death do us part."

The problem with planning for the future is that we don't really know what's in store for us. Sadly, there may come a point later in life when you and your spouse will be separated because one of you needs chronic care somewhere other than the family home.

Facing the financial and emotional requirements of long-term care is a challenge in its own right, but trying to do so without the requisite level of planning makes it impossibly hard.

Long-term care insurance can be part of the solution. Taking a strategic and proactive approach to preparing for your future health needs should always be the default option, rather than relying on a kneejerk reaction to each situation, as it arises.

Planning for the potential eventuality of long-term care is a process. There are many options to consider, including group homes, but the essential first step is to talk with your spouse to determine his or her wishes. No matter what you both decide, there are four basic planning phases you'll need to work through as a couple: education, discussion, decision and implementation.

Long-term Care Options

On average, we are all living longer and our odds of needing care increase substantially as we get older. Embrace the idea that you or your spouse will probably need some form of long-term care at some point in the future.

Educating yourself on the options available to you as a couple is critical to your future plans. Knowing what you can and can't get, and how each alternative could impact you as a couple, financially and otherwise, is an important step.

Care Planning with a Spouse

You and your spouse need to have the foresight and the courage to engage in a frank discussion about long-term care together. That way, you'll both have a clear idea of each other's wishes when it comes time to choose future long-term care options.

Planning for long term-care is not so much about the mechanics of how you want to be cared for and where, but more about the financial, physical and emotional consequences of your decisions.

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Paying for Care

Having already tackled the education and discussion parts of the process, you now need to make some hefty decisions. This is something you and your spouse will want to do together, so be sure to look at all your options and listen to each other's desires and needs.

The two main questions that you have to answer are:

  • How much of your money can you afford to allocate for long-term care?
  • How much do you want to cover by way of insurance?
  • How will paying for care impact the finances of the community spouse?

Stick to the Care Plan

After researching, discussing and deciding on your long-term care plan, you and your spouse will be able to see a clearer road ahead. This will remove much of the stress when one of you needs care, and it comes time to implement your plan.

Having a coordinated plan of action, and putting it in to place long before you need it, will enable you and your spouse to enjoy greater peace of mind. This is because each of you will know that you will be taken care of properly, and you will have the resources available when you need them later in life.