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This is the fourth post in Peconic Landing’s community educational series about retirement. View the other posts HERE.

It’s an interesting paradox; we spend our whole lives planning for the future – deciding which career path we’d like to follow, the family life we hope to enjoy, and even the dream vacation we don’t want to miss. But for some reason, we don’t give much thought to how we are going to spend our senior years.

Maybe it’s because we simply don’t want to think about growing old, or perhaps it’s because we think these years will be “taken care of” for us; but the reality is they are coming, and it’s best to have a plan.

A good place to start planning is by understanding what long-term care is and what are some of the surrounding myths.

Myth #1: The best plan for me is to stay in my own home.

While this may be an option for some, it is not a sensible choice for everyone.

“It’s important to be in a place that you’re active and engaged,” said Dr. Roger Landry, a preventive medicine physician who strives to help Americans age successfully. “But as we age, our social circle begins to diminish, and we can find ourselves, essentially, home alone.”

That type of isolation, he said, can actually progress the aging process. Dr. Landry said he recommends his patients consider the lifestyle options offered at retirement communities like Peconic Landing. Here, members fill their days sharing meals with friends, taking part in health and wellness activities, and further educating themselves through the organization’s Lifetime Learning series.

“They are much like a college or university feel, with social circles, clubs and activities,” he said.

Myth #2: If I can make it to age 65, Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs will cover the costs of my long-term health care.

Unfortunately, there is not entirely true.

Each of these programs has specific rules about what services are covered, how long you can receive benefits, and whether or not you will qualify for benefits.

Beneficiaries will need to meet strict eligibility requirements, which differ by state, and often involve an extensive documentation process and the possibility of a sale of assets to cover the costs of long-term care until they are eligible.

Another thing to consider when depending on these programs is, when the time comes for you or a loved one to need skilled nursing care, it is often an important decision that is habitually made on the fly.

“Families often find themselves making a mad dash to find a place and time is your enemy,” Dr. Landry said. “You have to make decisions quickly, and there’s just a much more rational way to do it, by preparing.”

It’s also important to take into consideration the quality of health care you may receive, he said, noting that “not all skilled nursing centers are the same.”

Myth #3: You have taken care of your long-term care planning by purchasing long-term care insurance.

Purchasing long-term health care insurance is only one aspect of planning.

“Many long-term care insurance policies don’t cover the full costs of care at a nursing home,” said Steven Carroll, CFO of Peconic Landing. “This could leave you picking up a significant bill even with a long-term care policy.”

Carroll recommends looking at the premiums on the policy and comparing them to the costs of healthcare coverage.

Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website to estimate what your costs could be. Then, think about your options and how you will be able to meet that cost, either through an insurance policy, savings, pension benefits, social security benefits, or other personal income.

One option to consider is becoming a member of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) such as Peconic Landing, which offer the lifestyle aspects of a retirement community as well as the peace of mind of long-term health care coverage, known as Lifecare.

At CCRCs, members pay a monthly fee that includes the cost of long-term care coverage, and that fee does not increase based on the type of care that they may need. If they ultimatley need skilled nursing care, they access award-winning care within the comfort of their own community.

“Folks really do need to plan for their future in order to achieve a comfortable lifestyle that they can afford. I have come to respect many members that have done an admirable job of planning for their future,” Carroll said. “It’s never too early, or too late, to start planning.”

For more information about Lifecare visit the Peconic Landing website.

Be sure to visit us next month for the next post in Peconic Landing’s community education series about retirement: Nutrition