As people age, the body can start to exhibit various signs of deterioration. From pains in the joints that a person most frequently uses to issues with memory and loss of strength, there are a host of symptoms associated with aging.

Even those who have been historically healthy and whose parents did not exhibit any serious aging-related diseases later in life could still have substantial medical needs during their golden years. Assuming that you have the resources to meet those needs could be a mistake that will leave you with diminished assets or unable to secure the care that you need.

Elder care planning, also sometimes called long-term care planning, involves getting yourself set up in a position where you can cover the costs of your health care needs as you age.

Looking at your resources and your intended legacy

If you spent your entire adult life working with your spouse to pay off your home, you may feel proud of that asset and want to leave it to your child. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the right medical care plans in place, your home and other valuable assets could be vulnerable to seizure or liquidation while you are still alive or after your death.

If you find that you need Medicaid, you will have to diminish your assets to almost nothing in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits. Medical care providers and government insurance programs can bring claims against your estate and possibly take assets that you thought would be part of your legacy for their own repayment. If you want that house to pass on to the next generation, you need to plan for the worst-case scenario.

Be ready to change how you hold assets

Elder care planning often involves planning a gift strategy to reduce your assets or possibly moving your possessions, like your home, into a trust, to allow you to qualify for benefits while protecting those most valuable assets. Your family history, your age, your assets and the legacy you want to leave behind will all influence the best elder care planning strategy for your specific circumstances.

Gathering information about your assets and financial resources, your health insurance and your retirement savings is a great starting point to determine how you can protect your assets and also connected with the medical treatment you need if your health declines as you grow older.