“The cost of aging” used to mean failing eyesight, bodily aches and pains, and maybe the loss of your teeth; but nowadays “the cost of aging” can mean the loss of your happy marriage!
With growing numbers of senior citizens being diagnosed with debilitating elderly illnesses, and with the cost of nursing care on the rise, more and more couples are finding that they simply can’t afford to pay for the numerous visits to the doctor, endless medical treatments, and rising cost of prescription medicines. Many seniors hope that Medicaid will help, but before you can get assistance from Medicaid you will have to spend down your own assets to almost nothing—this includes spending down any savings or retirement assets you may have.
If you are the spouse of someone diagnosed with an illness such as Alzheimer’s or dementia you can really get the short end of the stick. As this editorial in the New York Times points out, you can put all of your financial resources toward your spouse’s care, only to find that at the end of it all you “face a bleak retirement with neither [your spouse] nor your savings.” Some seniors are discovering a dismaying truth: that if they want to keep some kind of nest-egg for themselves, one of their only options is divorce and the separation of finances that comes with it.
This isn’t the first time the subject of divorce for financial reasons has come up. MSNBC dealt with the issue earlier this year with this segment on “Today”. But there is some good news amongst all this gloom and doom—poverty or divorce don’t have to be your only choices. If you start planning early, you can be prepared should something like this happen to you and your spouse. Long-term care insurance is one good preventative measure, or ask your estate planning attorney about other asset protection strategies you can employ.
Aging is hard enough without having to end a happy marriage (and feel like you’re abandoning a beloved spouse) to ensure your own financial future. Please call our office to find out what your options are.