What will your kids remember?

What will your kids remember?

November is Long Term Care Awareness Month, so I suppose I should regurgitate a bunch of statistics about how many people will need long term care services, how much nursing homes cost, blah, blah, blah. But that’s not what this is about.

You already know LTC is real; you’ve seen it – perhaps in your own family, or at work, or in a friend’s family. LTC happens, period. Instead of re-hashing statistics, let’s work on an awareness of what LTC means to you, your family and your relationships.

My mom passed away last September with advanced COPD. It was horrible. My step-father was her primary caregiver for the past couple of years, assisted sporadically by hospice volunteers. Yes, she had long term care insurance, but against my numerous urgings, she long ago purchased a nursing home-only policy. (This was before I got into the sales side of this business.) So, her policy was dirt cheap, but it wouldn’t pay for home care.

About two years ago, her health went from bad to really bad after a hospitalization. The weekend after she came home from the hospital, I drove down to stay for a few nights. My first night there, my step-father asked if I could stay with her while he ran some errands. About thirty seconds after his truck left the driveway, something terrifying occurred to me – my mother might have to use the bathroom. The thought of physically assisting my mother with her toileting had never really struck me until that moment. I’ve been involved in LTC insurance for 21 years, but that instant was when it finally became real for me.

Think about how you might feel as an adult child in that situation. Or worse yet, as the ailing parent?

This is what long term care is about.

Next, a friend’s elderly parents live in another state. Mom has had several falls, dad’s health is failing, and neither of them should be driving, but they live in a very rural area, and would be isolated without the car. Despite my friend’s urgings, they don’t want to sell their house and move here, where she could help to manage their care needs as they become more immediate. About every three weeks, she’s driving six hours each way to deal with a care crisis, because her parents aren’t ready to give up their home or their history in order to make it easier for her to help them.

This is what long term care is about.

Finally, this couple – he’s 78, she’s 72. He suffered a stroke several years ago. She’s younger, and they always thought that she would be his first line of support, but now that’s not going to work – she has Alzheimer’s. This isn’t what was supposed to happen.

That’s what long term care is about.

Planning for long term care isn’t about nursing homes. It’s about people and families, and the impact that changing health has on them. It’s about human dignity. It’s about caring for others without physical and emotional exhaustion. It’s also about living out your own life without becoming a burden – even if your loved ones believe with all their hearts that they want to carry that burden.

Please, deal with the financial side of LTC planning, but more importantly, talk with your family. Build the relationships that will be there when you – or they – need help. Long term care happens. When it does, know that you’re as ready as you can be. Call me any time at (207) 523-2253 to discuss your options.

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