A couple recently paid their annual long-term care annual premium. For the two of them, she is age 59 and he is age 64, they paid almost $3,500. Sounds like a lot for a year’s worth of insurance, especially for two people who are on the verge of retirement. Right?

But then, they are reminded of a friend who celebrated her 100th birthday last December. There’s a woman for whom good retirement planning has been very important. Myra loves fun and is already planning her 101st birthday party, but she can’t do it by herself. She lives in a pleasant condo with help from two health care providers, one or the other of whom are with her most of the time.

Until a year or so ago, Myra got by with less assistance, but since she was in an automobile accident, she needs more help getting dressed, bathing, etc.

The total annual bill for this kind of assistance in the city where Myra lives is close to $100,000.

If Myra chose a nice nursing home instead, the bill would be about the same. But she would rather be independent and in her own home – just like most people would.

So, when looked at it this way, the couple’s long-term care insurance bill doesn’t seem like very much and they realize that it’s probably a small price to pay for good reliable care and help when needed.

Since the burden of family caregiving almost always falls on women, long-term care, or lack of it, can have a big impact on retirement finances. If part of a couple’s retirement plan relies on a younger wife continuing to work, the illness of the older husband can be a significant financial and physical burden.

Long-term care insurance that replaces her income or allows her to hire someone else to help with the caregiving so she can work, can be especially important.