Determine your mortality while calculating the cost of care

As everyone else in the office spent today’s lunch gazing out at the impenetrable whiteness smothering Cleveland, I was happily sidetracked forecasting the end of my life.

Insurance company Northwestern Mutual has released a couple online calculators meant to help people anticipate their long-term care costs after retirement. Sure, I’m a bit young to accurately estimate my care needs—25 years old isn’t exactly the average age of nursing home admission—but I thought it would be modestly eye-opening. And, in the case of Northwestern Mutual’s assumed annual inflation rate of 5%, not only were my eyes opened—they were legitimately bugging out.

First, take the Lifespan Calculator’s 13-item questionnaire, with inquiries into your general wellness. It determines potential health risks and pumps out your estimated mortality. This is obviously not something I am going to trust with utmost confidence, but it has me living to the predicted old age of 80. Considering I’m of the sex that is on the lower end of predicted lifetimes, I’ll take 80 years.

Next is the Long-Term Care Cost Calculator. Folks, this is where it gets interesting. It asks you to input your current age, your predicted age at which an LTC event will occur, what state the care will take place in, what kind of care you will receive (home health, assisted living, or skilled nursing), and how many years you believe that care will be needed. In the interest of realism, I suppose that with a predicted lifespan of 80 years, I would most likely enter a skilled nursing facility in Ohio at age 78—or the year 2063—and remain in such care for around three full years.

Taking the 5% assumed inflation rate into account, Northwestern Mutual is saying that those three years of nursing home care would cost a total of $3,482,696!

This was a fun diversion, and I suggest the older crowd gives it a go. Me? I’m going to sit here and wish I would have used up lunch complaining about that snowstorm….

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