One of the most difficult things to predict about your retirement years might be the most critical: Will you need long-term care, and how long might you need it for? The answers to these questions can help you plan financially for estate matters and end-of-life care, but there is little consistent data to go on to help you make these decisions.
One of the most expansive studies on the matter is over 10 years old. Data from a 2005 study indicated that 58 percent of men and 79 percent of women would need long-term care. Women on average would require 3.7 years of care, while men would require 2.2 years of care. But health care and retirement structures have changed a lot in the last decade, so you can't rely heavily on those numbers.
A fact that does translate from that 2005 study is that many people will require long-term care as they age -- the figure is probably in the majority. That means there's a good chance you will require some type of long-term care as you age, whether that is care in your home or in a facility. Planning ahead by considering all your benefits and options early lets you create coverage scenarios so you or your family aren't left scrambling to cover the costs of such care.
Care planning should include discussions about life insurance, long-term care insurance, Medicare and Medicaid benefits and investments. Financial decisions aren't the only ones that might be involved in the process; you can also take the time to create documents that spell out your wishes for care should you be incapacitated. Working with a legal professional can help you understand the many options and requirements of care planning.
Source: Forbes, "Costs and Incidence of Long-Term Care," Wade Pfau, Jan. 05, 2016