Thinking Ahead: Preparing for Old Age Before it Reaches You

Healthcare is expensive in this country. There’s no getting around it. Having enough money for retirement is a subject that weighs heavily on the minds of many seniors. The trouble is that you never know what medical needs you’ll have or what the costs of treating them will be, especially if you’re still young.

The costs of healthcare must be taken into account because Medicare doesn’t cover all of the costs. According to AARP, the average 80-year-old spends 18% of their household income on medical spending even with Medicare. By 2035, it’s estimated that will be the minimum for all seniors, with poorer households getting hit the hardest.

Social Security

Is there any good news to this for seniors? A little. Social Security helps buffer some of these costs. Beyond the normal retirement pay that elders can receive after retirement, there are two other programs that can seniors in true need cover their medical bills. These are SSI and SSDI. The former is for those who are too poor to work or are retired and can’t cover their bills. The latter is for those who are disabled and cannot work. It’s important to stay informed and up to date as to how social security is calculated. You don’t want to be left in the dust if something suddenly changes. It doesn’t hurt to be informed, prepared, and ready.

Long-Term Care and Medicaid

The most expensive era of healthcare for seniors is when they enter long-term care. Living in a nursing home often requires signing over all remaining savings to the nursing home, which often isn’t enough to cover the complete stay, especially with longer lifespans. While most of the people enrolled in Medicaid aren’t seniors, they account for a huge amount of the actual spent costs of the program.

Preventative Medicine

What about younger generations who have no clue how things will change from the here and now? Many millennials fear that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will not be available when they reach the age of retirement. What can be done?

Saving for retirement is one way, but a better way might be to take some preventative measures. Preventive medicine is among the best ways to lower health care costs in the long run.

Preventive medicine is more than just seeing doctors and dentists every six months. It also involves creating a healthy lifestyle. Eating nutritious food regularly, exercise, socialization, regular sun exposure, meditation, and other beneficial activities will put you further ahead on the health continuum as you age compared to others. The longer you can put off hospitalizations and long-term care, the greater the chances your money will last until your death. Even better, you’re much more likely to enjoy your final years as well if you take preventative measures now.

What may ultimately save the Millennials once they become seniors is health care reforms now. These could take many different forms, but with their lowered earning potential and the continued extension of life spans the current systems will likely undergo significant change before it is their turn to take advantage of the system they spent their lives funding.