The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the days are getting longer: It's spring.
And if that doesn't put a bounce in your step, your federal income taxes probably are finished for the year. So now you can relax, go for a walk, maybe clean out your closets. And think about the future.
As you plan ahead, you should give some thought to long-term care, which many of us will need someday. Long-term care is very expensive: A semi-private room in a nursing home costs, on average, close to $80,000 a year.
Home healthcare - which is preferred by most people - isn't cheap, either. You could easily pay $25,000 a year for help that lets you keep living at home.
So what are your options? Medicare doesn't cover either ongoing home health care or a long stay in a nursing home, a fact that sometimes comes as an unwelcome surprise to older Americans.
Long-term care insurance can help, but the policies can be pricey, and you have to keep up with the payments or the policy will lapse.
If you do opt for long-term care insurance, be sure to consult a financial adviser - one with no financial stake in whether or not you buy a policy or which policy you choose. You'll need help finding a policy that covers the services you might want and that offers protection against inflation.
If you end up needing care you can't afford and you don't have good long-term care insurance, there is a safety net: Medicaid. Medicaid pays for about half of all long-term care provided in the United States.
Unlike other health insurance, it will cover nursing home care, home health aides and a host of support services, like transportation, that can make it possible for you to keep living in the community longer. The specific services that are covered vary from state to state, but all states cover some long-term care through Medicaid.
To qualify for Medicaid, you have to have a low income (but most states will take your medical costs into account when your income is determined, so high medical bills can make middle-income people eligible).
If you're married, and only one of you needs nursing home care, the spouse who lives in the community instead of in a nursing home can still have income and assets that are above Medicaid limits. This is an improvement on the days when both spouses had to be impoverished if one spouse needed Medicaid.
And another improvement is due in 2014: The Affordable Care Act expands this financial protection to include situations where the spouse needing long-term care receives help at home, not in a nursing home.
The new health care law also includes steps designed to improve Medicaid's home-based long-term care options. So if you do need Medicaid, new options will let you get the help and care you need to live safely and successfully at home instead of being forced to move to a nursing home.
But these changes over the next few years won't happen if Medicaid doesn't stay a strong program, with adequate funds or if the Supreme Court strikes down the health care law. The Supreme Court will reach its decision at the end of June, and Congress is likely to debate deep budget cuts in Medicaid over the next several months.
So as you enjoy the spring weather, don't forget to think through your possible long-term care needs.
And keep in mind that if your best-laid plans go awry, as long as we make sure that Medicaid stays a strong program, there will be a safety-net there to help you, just in case.
Pollack is executive director of Families USA.