Aging? Sorry, I can’t afford to get old.

Just as my mother was settling in for a luxurious 4-week stay at Camp Senior (a lovely but expensive assisted living facility), we received a letter in the mail from Governor Rendell urging us to “Own Your Future” and plan for long-term living by ordering a handy packet of information or checking it out online.

I’m doing both, but stopped for a bit last night to browse the Web site. It’s the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information (http://www.longtermcare.gov/LTC/Main_Site/index.aspx) and is chock-full of tidbits that will make you wish Dr. Kevorkian was your uncle. Really, the basic message I got was that I and most everyone else can’t afford to get old.

Consider the handy calculator that lets you plan how much money you’ll need to pay for long-term care. You plug in the state you plan to retire in and the monthly amount you can afford to put away now for long-term care. It spits back the cost of long-term care in your desired state, how much your monthly savings will add up to, and (in my case) your laughable shortfall. Turns out Pennsylvania was the most expensive state I checked (as I obsessively started plugging in different states to find cheaper options). Deep South seems the way to go (Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas) with “traditional” retirement states like Florida and Arizona more expensive. Forget about New England (which I guess PA falls into).

So, even if Mike and I put away $300 a month for the next 20 years for long-term care, we’ll only save up half of what we’ll need (roughly $350K instead of the $700K needed). (Oh, and I didn’t notice if that was per person or not!) The site also outlines other options like long-term care insurance (if you qualify) and such, including “Do you have friends or family who can help take care of you?” Hmmm, how ’bout it friends & family?

It was all quite overwhelming and extremely depressing. What a world we’ve created where we can keep people alive far longer than ever before but with no thought to how they’ll actually live.

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born
at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen. 
                                                         ~ Mark Twain