One of the most responsible things you can do for yourself and your family is to plan ahead for your long-term care needs. But since you never know what life will bring you, the sooner you prepare, the better off you will be.

Planning ahead

If you’re still fairly young, the best thing you can do is start putting money aside to pay for your end-of-life needs. A health savings account is an option as are personal retirement plans. You may not be able to rely on Social Security or Medicare in 20 or 30 years.

Paying for long-term care

If you’ve reached your 60th birthday, you may have missed your chance to save specifically for long-term health care needs. Fortunately, that does not mean that you don’t have the means to provide for yourself. If you live alone or with a similarly aged spouse, selling your home may be a viable option, especially if you’re nearing an age where you think care is imminent or if you’d simply like to relocate to an assisted living facility to free up time for things such as travel.

To determine if selling is a good idea, start by calculating how much you owe on your home. Check local listings to determine your home’s value. For instance, if you live in Clearwater, homes have sold for an average price of $210,000. Assuming you purchased your home a few decades ago, you likely paid much less for your property, meaning you stand to walk away with a decent amount of cash, which can help cover the costs of long-term care.

Other payment options include selling valuable art, jewelry, coin collections, and vehicles and splitting housing costs in the form of a semi-private room.

You should also consider how to relieve some of your family’s financial burden after you pass. It may be difficult to think about, but a pre-paid funeral plan will allow you to make arrangements and pay for your funeral beforehand so that your family doesn’t have to deal with this stress while they’re grieving.

Family may not be enough

No matter your family’s intentions, there are some age-related health conditions that require more than just love. According to, there are approximately 16,000 nursing homes and nearly 2 million beds throughout the country. This supply doesn’t always meet demand. In fact, more than half of all seniors require some form of skilled nursing care at some point in their lives. Just because you’re healthy now, doesn’t mean you won’t suffer a stroke, heart attack, or accident that could leave you requiring hands-on care around the clock.

Lifestyle matters

It’s true that no one can predict the future, but there are certain lifestyle choices that make poor health inevitable. Smoking, drinking and life-long poor eating habits will put you at a greater risk of severe health conditions. Lung cancer, COPD and heart disease are all byproducts of smoking cigarettes. Prevention explains that the long-term effects of alcohol consumption are just as concerning.

Health history

In addition to the potential for health problems caused by your direct actions, your family history also influences the likelihood that you will need long-term care. If anyone on the trunk of your family tree was diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other major disease, your chances of developing debilitating health problems is exponentially higher.

Even if you don’t wind up with Alzheimer’s or cancer, other common health problems that can affect your ability to live independently such as arthritis and diabetes can sneak up at any time. Often, home modifications including a wheelchair ramp (a ramp usually costs between $1,500 and $3,250 to install) and grab bars in areas you need extra support. These can help you maintain your freedom, at least for a while. But you can’t count out the possibility that you’ll need supervised care and you can’t always count on your family to provide it, no matter how good their intentions.