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Planning for a successful life as a senior

by Danny Mensh


I recently saw a sign that read, “Be nice to your children; they pick your retirement home.” It certainly was meant to be humorous, but unfortunately it’s also a reality. It’s alarming how many smart, successful people don’t plan their retirement. Are you one of these people?


If you’re in your 40s or 50s, then you’ve likely already been told to begin laying the foundation for retirement. While in the past the primary focus has been on retirement income only, lately there’s been more of a push to consider creating additional pools of money to pay for long-term care.


Let’s face it: Discussions about home-care aides, assisted living, and nursing homes simply aren’t the most enticing topics for dinner or cocktail party conversations. But waiting too long to make financial decisions regarding your golden years can prove costly.


Create a plan

Instead of having your children ultimately decide where and how you want to receive care, plan now so you get to decide. Would you prefer to move to an assisted-living facility, or would you like to have help in your home? How will you pay for it? Are you planning for your children to take care of you? Can they carry the financial strain? What happens when you need help with bathing and other everyday activities?


The average assisted-living facility in Forsyth County costs about $5,000 per month, not including medical bills, prescription drugs and other costs of living. While many believe that the government will help pay for their medical needs, what if that’s not the case? It’s important to plan ahead.


Determine care needs

Fifty percent of the population likely will need long-term care insurance, and unfortunately it’s not going to get any less expensive. If purchased when you’re young enough it can save some money, but expect to pay about $3,000 per year for moderate coverage. It might be costly over a 20-year period, but it provides the peace of mind to know that care providers are available when you need them.


Studies show that there will be almost 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease by next year. Many of us already have a parent, neighbor, friend, or relative dealing with this and other crippling diseases. It’s easy to imagine just how expensive and exhausting it is to care for a loved one; the rate of depression among caregivers alone is staggering.


Other financial considerations to make include purchasing an appropriate life insurance policy, which can protect family members who depend on you; maximizing your 401(k) contributions; and purchasing disability insurance to protect your income.


With recent negative returns in the market and almost certainly decreased retirement income and pension distributions, now is the time to clear up any debt. As you enter retirement, you’ll need to know where your income is coming from and how much you can spend in order to live comfortably.


The bottom line: Do your homework. If you’re the child of an aging parent, begin asking some questions now to ensure your parents are cared for when the time comes.


The emotional and family expenses associated with long-term care reach further than a bank account —  if not considered seriously, they can tear a family apart. Review your family’s intentions; don’t be afraid to confront the naturally uncomfortable topic before it’s too late. 


To download “Planning for Life as a Senior,” visit


About the expert

Danny Mensh entered the insurance industry in 1996 and became president of Mensh Insurance in 2007, taking over a family business that has been in existence since 1968. With more than 10 years of experience, Mensh is certified in long-term care and brings an independent approach to discussions concerning life and disability insurance for individuals and businesses. Planning topics range from protecting income due to disability or premature death to estate planning and preservation measures.


Mensh has appeared on radio and has filmed various educational programs on insurance issues, and has written articles in local and regional magazines on the topic. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University in Durham and is active in the Duke Alumni Association in North Carolina. He also is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, National Association of Health Underwriters, and American Association of Long Term Care Insurance. To learn more, call (336) 631-5503, e-mail or visit