"Separately, for older married couples where one spouse is impaired, assets can be quickly depleted or divested to pay for professional care potentially impacting the surviving spouse and heirs. In either case, the retirement plans of the extended family are at severe risk," said Schoonveld.Spickler observed that "Too many people, for a variety of reasons, end up not preparing for long-term care and are forced to make rushed and very expensive decisions almost overnight. The result can put huge amounts of assets at risk, bring about a rapid draining of financial resources and endanger the stability of a family." "As Americans are living longer and healthcare costs continue to rise, the need for long-term care takes on greater importance. To prepare for an unanticipated long-term care need, it's critical to have a plan in place well before you need it," she said. "Research has shown that people prefer to remain at home as they age," said Dr. Holland. "For this to happen, consumers should do what they can now to ensure they are able to cover the cost, should the need arise. Those that plan ahead and receive professional guidance are more likely to receive care in the setting and in the way they prefer." "Knowing when, where and how you want to receive care goes hand-in-hand with understanding how you'll need to pay for the kind of care you want to receive," said Schoonveld. Based on extensive Lincoln research, Schoonveld underscored some best practices by those who were proactive in building a long-term care plan. "Successful consumers first clarify what they want and where they want to receive care. Next, they assess the resources available to them and evaluate support systems. Finally, the most successful of consumers partner with a professional. Meeting with a knowledgeable advisor enables consumers to talk through their goals, as well as assumptions, and be confident that their planning pays off." Adding to those best practices Spickler said, "It may be helpful to have a Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive in place. As people start becoming forgetful, someone needs to be involved in helping with the decision-making process. Many people want a son or daughter on the account."