Affording a Spouse’s Special Needs as They Age

Written by , November 13, 2012

Affording a Spouses Special Needs as They AgeMany of us have plans for how we want our retirement years to be. Most often we imagine ourselves traveling to visit cities and countries we’ve always wanted to see, spending quality time with children and grandchildren, and having plenty of hours devoted to our favorite leisure activities.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always how things turn out. Sometimes a spouse may develop a health or mental issue that requires costly medical attention or some other type of care. And as often happens with these special needs, the costs only increase as the affected individual ages.

Here is some retirement advice and tips for being able to afford such a situation.

  • Make Sure You Understand Their Needs. Not every health or medical issue affects everyone in the same way. In order to best address your spouse’s special needs – and to get a good understanding of how much those needs will cost and how you’re going to afford them – you’ll need to do your own research. Ask questions of all the doctors and other medical personnel you’ve been dealing with, and spend time researching reliable online resources.
  • Understand Your Current Insurance Coverage. The health care laws have changed significantly over the past few years, and these changes have affected how insurance policies are structured and what they cover. Furthermore, the nature of insurance coverage itself evolves over time, as the medical and mental health communities recognize and begin to understand different types of afflictions.
  • Consider Upgrading Your Insurance. If possible, you may wish to upgrade your insurance coverage before your spouse’s special needs get too expensive. In some cases, one spouse will make their employment decisions based in large part on whether or not the new employer sponsors a healthcare plan that covers their spouse’s special needs. The value of a comprehensive employer sponsored plan can be significant.
  • Consider Alternative Financial Options. It may become necessary to “think outside the box” when it comes to affording your spouse’s special needs as they age. For example, a reverse mortgage is still not widely used option by retirees, but it may be useful in this type of situation. If you own your home, you can use a reverse mortgage to draw out the equity you’ve built up, and receive a monthly income that can last for the remainder of your life. Provided you’re both listed on the home deed, you and your spouse will be able to live in your home for the rest of your lives.

Caring for an aging spouse with special needs can take a significant amount of your time and energy. Such special needs can also provide a challenge to your financial resources, so you’ll need to make finding solutions those financial implications a priority.

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