An Eye On The Horizon–Planning for a Golden Future


My mom, shortly before she passed away.
She’s why I want to help people have a good, secure, content old age.
Ain’t she something?

We all know that Americans are living far longer today than we were even a short time ago. But we’re living sicker lives. Currently, elder Americans spend 65 cents of every dollar spent on health care and that amount is expected to take a sharp upward turn in dollars and as a percentage of expenditures in the near future.

One in eight Americans are 65 or over now. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or over. The Baby Boom that began in 1946 this year will enter its 65th year—the first year government and legal entitlements are widely available. That boom continued through 1965 so, doing the math, the wave of growth in our aging population will last for 19 years and will demand more and more of our attention, focus, preparation, and wisdom. Even more important, this time of intense focus on caring for our boomer elders will continue for many years.

If we think Social Security and Medicaid are in trouble now, hang on to your hat because it’s just getting started.

Nationally, four in ten of us will need nursing home care at some point in our lives. One in ten will be in a nursing home for five years or more. And the massive spike in our aging population will likely increase the number of people in nursing homes 300% by 2030.

But 76% of Americans believe they will not need long term care in their lifetimes. Obviously, someone’s miscalculating and I doubt it’s the Census Bureau. 73% of people incorrectly believe that Medicare will pay for their long term care—a dangerous misconception that leads many people to overlook planning for long term care while they’re young and able.

Here’s a shocker—75% of nursing home residents are women! Why? Aside from the well-known longevity differential between men and women, women are capable of living under less than ideal conditions for long periods of time. Men also have a higher rate of heart disease and cardiac arrest, which often takes them more quickly than women. Men simply drop dead rather than live with suffering that has no end in sight. I’m not sure if either one is preferable but I certainly don’t want to be one of the 2/3 of Americans who have to rely on friends and family for my elder care.

Currently, only 1/3 of Colorado nursing homes are ranked above average. The average cost of care in this state is around $6,200 a month but can go much higher depending on the standard of living and care the elder wants and can afford. In some areas, the average cost of care is upwards of $10,000 a month.

Who has that kind of money lying around? Who has that kind of money invested that will throw off enough income to pay for long term care? Here’s an idea of what one would need to have invested in an income-producing portfolio to pay for nursing home care in Colorado.

  • Monthly cost of care:           $6,200
  • Meds                                          $500
  • Therapy                                     $500
  • Miscellaneous                          $100
  • TOTAL Monthly Need        $7,300
  • Annual Need                       $87,500
  • Investable Assets Needed to Meet Annual Need
    (Divide Need by Rage of Return Estimated at 3% after tax)


In order to pay for the cost of care for an average nursing home, a single person would need to have $2,920,000 in investable resources! For people with less than that amount and who need long term care, impoverishment is a nearly inevitable fact of living a long life.

Many of us hope we’ll live a long and healthy life then one day, go to bed and wake up dead. But for many of us, that won’t happen.

It’s a sad reality that as we age, we will become poorer and poorer because modern medicine helps us, with all its attendant expenses, to live longer but more chronically ill lives.

Full Disclosure

Technically, I’m not a baby boomer. I was born in 1966, the year following the end of the boom. My nine brothers and sisters, though are ALL boomers and whenever I think of planning for my elders, my siblings spring to mind, not so much myself. That’s not necessarily a good thing because even though I’m in my 40s, I should begin to plan for my care now–and helping my fiance to do the same. I’m healthy, young enough and very insurable. My strategy for planning will begin with acquiring a long term care rider for my life insurance policy and making sure my assets are in a trust so that if something happened to me even now, my trustee could step in and manage my affairs seamlessly and my family could care for me in the way I’ve instructed. As I age, we will keep a weather eye out for the proper time to think about even more advanced planning for myself and my (future) husband.

Next week, I’ll bring you an article about what questions to ask a nursing home if you or someone in your life is facing the prospect of needing long term care right now.

In the meantime, if you’d like to get a better idea of what you can do to begin planning for long-term care, please call to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session today. Our Family Wealth Planning Session is normally $550, but each month I’ve make space for two people to have a complete planning session with me at no charge.  Call today and mention this article and ask for one of those two meetings.


About the Author - Martha Hartney

A later-in-life attorney, Martha Hartney opened the practice in 2010 to serve the people she loves because she is committed to helping moms and dads bring their greatest gifts into parenting fearlessly and with joy and making sure children are completely cared for if something happens to their parents.

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