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MONEY: Facing the Challenges of Long-Term Care

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LGBTQ adults should plan ahead for unique issues.

By Grace S. Yung

When planning for retirement and potential healthcare needs, LGBTQ people can face unique challenges, including the loss of an income stream when a partner passes away, or being excluded from medical decision-making.

In addition, long-term care planning for LGBTQ people can be clouded by lack of family support, isolation, and even discrimination. Due to these obstacles, having a plan in place to pay for care could mean the difference between relying on sources that may not be ideal, and having control over how and where your needs are met.

Even if you are currently in tip-top shape, the odds of needing at least some type of assistance are higher than you might think. U.S. government statistics show that someone turning 65 today has a nearly 70 percent chance of requiring long-term care services and support, which typically come with a hefty price tag. According to a Genworth survey, the average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled-nursing facility in 2017 was $7,148 per month—or nearly $86,000 per year. And the average cost of a home health aide or a homemaker service was $4,000 per month.

Providing care for a partner can be taxing in other ways, too. For instance, even when you have the best of intentions, providing care for a loved one—especially on a regular basis—can be physically and emotionally draining.

Caregivers also end up spending, on average, 20 percent of their annual income on those they care for. According to a 2016 AARP survey, out-of-pocket costs for caregivers averaged $7,000 annually.

In addition, many caregivers who are still employed may need to make adjustments to their schedules, such as working different or fewer hours and taking time off that may or may not be paid.

So how can you (and your partner, if applicable) best prepare for a potential long-term healthcare need in the future?

The usual funding sources include long-term care insurance, annuities, investments, life insurance, home equity, and Medicaid.

Unfortunately, many in the LGBTQ community will end up facing future healthcare needs alone, which can make financial challenges even more difficult.

Based on a study from The Gerontologist, roughly one-third of 45- to 63-year-olds were single in 2012, and most of them were either divorced or had never been married. So the risk of LGBTQ people finding themselves without a built-in support system is substantial.

In order to help combat this, it is essential to plan ahead, and to know what resources are available. In Houston, those resources include:

 The Montrose Center, which is raising money to build a senior-living facility where LGBTQ Houstonians can retire and age together. The Montrose Center also oversees the Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years, or SPRY, which offers community outreach, men’s and women’s groups, professional counseling, case management, social and recreational activities, health and wellness education, and the Montrose Diner drop-in center and congregate lunch program.

 AssistHers, a women’s healthcare resource providing information and resources for women’s care and caregiving options.

 SAGE USA, the largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of older LGBTQ adults, with both a national presence and local chapters throughout the U.S.

Although most people don’t like to think about it, the potential need for healthcare and long-term care services is very real—particularly as we get older. Because of that, it’s wise to have your financing options in place, just in case.

Doing so can keep you from having to scramble if or when the time comes. It can also help to ensure that you won’t need to dip into savings or assets that have been earmarked for other needs.

When setting up a long-term care financing plan, it can be beneficial to work with an advisor who specializes in working with the LGBTQ community. That way, in addition to the financial aspects, you can freely discuss caregiving options that will allow you and/or your partner to feel more comfortable.

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Grace S. Yung

Grace S. Yung, CFP, is a certified financial planner practitioner with experience in helping domestic partners plan their finances since 1994. She is a principal at Midtown Financial LLC in Houston and was recognized as a “Five-Star Wealth Manager” in the September 2017 issue of Texas Monthly.
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