Growing up is optional but growing older is mandatory for as long as you live. Ageing disgracefully can be a lot of fun but it’s important to realise that your post-work years can now stretch on for decades. You need to think about what the ageing process could mean for you in practical terms, especially financial ones. Here are some points to consider.
You can manage your ageing process
There’s nothing you can do about your genetics (other than to be aware of them) but there’s a lot you can do about your lifestyle. It’s never too late to give up bad habits or to start good ones. It’s also never too late to start tracking your health and wellness. You could do this through a paper journal or use an electronic fitness tracker (or combine both).
As you age, it also becomes more important to keep on top of medical appointments. This doesn’t just mean the doctor. It also means the dentist, the optician and the audiologist. Make sure you’re registered with all of the above at your current address. If you get invited to appointments, keep them and if you don’t get invited, ask for them.
Remember, catching problems early not only makes them easier to treat but also gives you the best, possible long-term outlook. This can make a lot of difference to your ageing process.
It helps to prepare your home appropriately
If you’re in a home over the long term, the chances are that you’re going to upgrade it at some point. When you do, consider your future needs as well as your current ones. For example, when you upgrade your bathroom, think about the practicalities of access if your mobility becomes reduced or you become less steady on your feet.
Making these upgrades as you go along can make it easier to absorb the cost of them. If your home isn’t suitable for updating, or if you know you want to move anyway, then consider moving earlier rather than later. This can lower the cost of living at home and hence leave you with more money to spare.
Keep in mind that the functionality of your home could influence both how long you can stay in it unassisted and how long you can stay in it with assistance. It might even make the difference between you being able to stay at home and you needing to move into residential care.
Understanding the realities of care
Care can be short-term (e.g. after an accident) or long-term (e.g. if you have become unable to perform certain tasks). It can be as little as help with housework or as much as full-time attendance. It can be in your own home or in a residential facility (care home). It can be at your request or as the result of a needs assessment.
With so many variations, it is difficult to put a figure on the amount you could end up paying for care. To make it even more complicated, prices for care can vary depending on where you live. They can also change over time.
For this reason, it’s probably best not to get too hung up on predicting the exact costs of your care. Just accept the fact that there is a distinct possibility that you will need it and think about how you’re going to address that fact. Realistically, for many people, this is going to mean tapping into the equity in their home.
Think about getting insurance
At present, in the UK, there are no private insurance policies specifically for long-term care. Only time will tell if they become available in the future. There are, however, policies offering critical illness cover. These might be useful for covering the cost of short-term care. If you’re still working, you might also want to consider income-protection cover.
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