by I miss a lot of things about my dad. Especially his laugh, which he retained to his dying day. At age 94, my dad finally lost his battle with dementia, losing first his ability to walk and talk. I’m sure glad his new wife (my mom passed away at 71) Gerry encouraged him to buy long-term care insurance. I’ll tell you why.
Dad lived in Boca Raton Florida, at Century Village. I live in NYC. A long distance relationship is difficult to maintain when dementia or Alzheimer’s happens to a family member.
The care he required was significant. Care costs money. My dad’s assets were co-mingled with a new wife and a new family. Because he had long-term care insurance, there was no need to have complex financial conversations with my new family members. This was a blessing for all.
There were 10 valuable lessons I learned from this experience:
When my dad and step-mom decided to transfer the risk of long-term care to an insurance company, it was truly a selfless act. They didn’t want to be a burden to their children. You’ve probably heard the joke –Better be nice to your children because they will be coordinating your long-term care. I can tell you that it’s not a joke.
Here’s what I learned.
- If dad had to self-insure, he would have wiped out his savings and his wife’s savings, placing my step-mom at risk.
- The coordination of care was all consuming. The long-term care provider was a great navigator for my family, who had not traveled this road before.
- Before the onset of dementia, my father was extremely healthy. He was driving a car at 90, and dancing at 92. It’s because we are living longer that dementia and Alzheimer’s is more likely to happen. Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of our population.1
- When the need for long-term care for a family member arrives at your front door, it can feel like a brick hitting you over the head. All of a sudden, the family framework changes and new roles emerge. Siblings must scramble to decide who will take responsibility for the parent. Not having to worry about the financial implications of the care is vitally important for sibling harmony.
- Long-term care is expensive. According to the 2014 Genworth survey, the annual care costs in NY for homemaker services is $47,934, and for home health aides, is $50,336. A nursing home could cost $124,100 annually.2 And don’t forget that it’s likely that these costs will continue to trend higher.
- Most people don’t end up in a nursing home. As they age and continue to live independently, who will be providing the care? My step-mom’s health was also declining. And my siblings were unable or unwilling to care for dad.
- Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care. Neither does your health or disability insurance.
- I was able to have dad assign me as his Power of Attorney and his health care proxy while he still had the ability to do so. Don’t wait!
- Because my dad was a veteran, he was entitled to additional benefits.
Protecting your family with long-term care insurance requires financial planning and complex decisions. My dad purchased long-term care insurance at the age of 78. He was very lucky he was still insurable. Don’t wait as long as my dad.