Nearly 70% of seniors over 65 will need long term care at some point.

Odds are high that someone in your family will need a nursing home sooner or later. Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care, and 20% of people will need it for longer than five years, according to 

The average cost of nursing home care is so high that the cost of that care can financially cripple a family. But there are steps you can take -- whether a nursing home is needed now, next month or next decade -- to minimize the financial strain of nursing home costs.

There are many ways to cover the costs of long-term care, including savings, investments, assets, long-term care insurance, state LTC Partnership programs, the Federal LTC Insurance Program and tax advantages. Care Conversations, an initiative led by the American Health Care Association, the National Center for Assisted Living and America's Skilled Nursing Caregivers, offer a helpful list of these private and public payment sources in greater detail.

Planning for Long-Term Care

Medicare does not provide an all-inclusive long-term care component. If certain conditions are met, Medicare offers limited coverage (up to 100 days per benefit period) for some beneficiaries. Since Medicare does not cover long-term care, the program does not pay for assisted living costs, though it may cover certain services, such as home health or outpatient therapy benefits for assisted living residents. Additional information can be found on Care Conversations.

Ideally, financial planning for long-term care should occur long before the need arises, says Wendy Boglioli, a spokesperson for insurer Genworth Financial. Long-term care insurance, Medigap and employer-provided or private health insurance plans can offset the cost of long-term care. But if these policies aren't in place before a major health event occurs, they are usually no longer available to consumers.

If your family's facing imminent need for nursing care and doesn't have an insurance planfor it in place, there are still options to help defray the costs. Make no mistake: Those costs can be staggering. In 2018, a private room cost an average of $8,365 a month, or more than $100,000 annually, according to the Cost of Care Survey 2018 by Genworth Financial. A semi-private room ran $7,441 a month, or $89,292 per year. And the average nursing home stay is 835 days, or more than two years, according to the government's latest National Nursing Home Survey.

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