Q. I’m 65 and planning to work full-time until age 70. I’m healthy, my wife is 10 years younger than I am, and I currently have a $250,000 term life insurance policy that I’m considering terminating. Instead, I'd rather use the money to buy long-term care insurance. Is that a good idea?

A. Because you want to provide for your much younger wife in the event of your death, don't drop your term life insurance, which we've long recommended as the least-expensive way to provide maximum protection for your dependents.

Term life insurance gets more expensive as you enter your 70s, especially if your current policy doesn't have a guaranteed level premium past that age. For a New Yorker who is your age and in above-average health, it's possible to buy a new 10-year level-premium term policy for as little as $373 per month, or $4,476 per year. Get quotes from online brokers, such as Accuquote, FindMyInsurance, and LifeQuote.

Long-term-care insurance, which can help pay for assistance if you become ill or disabled, is more complicated. Prices can vary widely based on your age, the benefits you want, your current health, and where you live.

Most important, you shouldn’t buy long-term-care insurance if it’s likely that you won’t be able to afford it in the future, because most policies terminate if you stop making payments, and you’ll lose whatever benefits you have accrued.

Your decision to buy a policy should be based on your income, expenses, assets, and other finances before and after retirement, as well as family longevity and other health concerns.

Consult a fee-only financial planner, who can help you assess your situation and shop for coverage. Find one at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

For more information, read our primer on long-term care insurance

A worthwhile alternative

Younger consumers have a more flexible option that can provide relatively more affordable long-term care insurance benefits: A whole life insurance policy with a long-term care rider.

Whole life, itself, isn't cheap. That little-understood mix of life insurance plus a savings or investment vehicle that builds cash value for as long as you pay the premiums, can be 10 times the cost of an equivalent term-life policy.

But if you can afford whole life, the long-term care rider is a valuable add-on that is relatively inexpensive, compared to straight long-term care insurance. The rider's benefit payout is also significantly less restrictive, so consider it carefully.

A woman helps care for her elderly relative.