Seniors get advice on long-term care, real estate

People are living longer. Charlie Stanton, a retirement planning specialist with AXA Advisors addressed a group at Island House March 23, about options available to assure you get the care you need, when you do get older.

It's not unusual anymore for folks to live to be 80-years-old and beyond. Stanton said 70 percent of individuals over 65 will require at least some type of long term care at some point in their life, and 40 percent will need to be in a skilled nursing facility.

"Long term care isn't just 'old people' insurance," he said. "What if you're injured in an accident and can't work?"

If you need help with any two of six activities of daily living, determined for long-term care, then you qualify for care. They are: Bathing, maintaining continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Long-term care can be care in your personal home, a family member's home, an assisted living facility or independent living facility.

It's staggering, but the average cost of a nursing home now is $90,155 per year, with an average stay of 3.5 years, Stanton said. Assisted living is about $3,000 a month, or $35,160 a year. But with inflation, you could be looking at $160,000 a year in 20 years.

Stanton said most people fall in-between Medicaid and the ability to finance their long-term care themselves. There are income and asset limitations for Medicaid, and unless you fall into the category of the very rich, long-term care could be the answer to your ability to afford care.

Issues that affect premiums include age, health, home/commumity based, length of benefit, inflation protection, and length of the elimination period, a sort of waiting period after you're approved until the long-term care insurance kicks in.

Kevin Scott, a seniors real estate specialist with Windermere Real Estate gave an overview of the real estate market. He said one of the biggest problems with seniors selling their home after living in it for years - even decades - is that they don't know where to start. They've got 40  years of "stuff" in the basement, and they become paralyzed as to what to do first.

"Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the population," Scott said.

He said with new commercial development static, which includes new senior housing, it's likely that by 2014 there will be a shortage of senior housing.

With wage growth limited and the national outlook for real estate price appreciation still four-plus years out, his advice for seniors looking to move into a facility such as Island House, was to sell now before interest rates go up, limiting buying power.

"Interest rates are rising, and a normal growth rate is still four to five years out," Scott said.

He said there are plenty of good buyers for homes offering good value, and there are still homes with significant equity that were purchased before the real estate bubble.

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