I want to thank my courageous colleague Rachel Faiga for allowing me to share her story. I do so in admiration and with deep gratitude to her. It is our hope that Rachel’s story will touch and inspire readers to take action and do responsible long-term care planning, now!
The Club Sandwich Generation, by Rachel Faiga
I have always thought that we are not just the sandwich generation, but the “club sandwich” generation. I helped care for my grandmother for 10 years, and my father has had dementia for years. Last May, our lives changed irrevocably. Our 19-year-old daughter Lee had a catastrophic car accident.
Where to begin…
Back in 1990 I became an LTCi specialist. I sort of just fell into this position, taught myself, and now I live it.
My grandmother needed seven-day-a-week, round-the-clock home care, then a nursing home. Thank goodness she owned LTCi. In fact, she was one of my very first clients. When I consulted at the time as to whether a 76 year-old should have inflation protection, the answer was always no. The cost seemed too high. What a way to learn a lesson, I wish she’d had it! I was actively involved in her care. Her LTCi supplemented other funds she had to enable her to stay at home. Otherwise, she would have gone directly to a nursing home. Eventually, her policy’s benefits were exhausted, forcing her to spend her last five years in a nursing home. She needed a total of about 10 years of care. Having the resources to keep her home for those five years helped us all participate in her care and she had some real quality years in her home.
Fortunately, I also sold my father LTCi. Interestingly, he battled me on this and only applied for it after his attorney recommended it. He currently has dementia and it has been progressing for many, many years. He is getting excellent care because of his LTCi policy.
Back to the car accident…
I was actually at the airport going to a seminar when Lee’s friend called me with the news.
That was followed by a call from the Fairfield Police Department telling me it was really bad and I had to get back immediately.
They sent an ambulance to take me all the way from NYC to the hospital in CT, then onto Yale where she was air lifted.
My daughter had a massive brain injury a broken neck, broken ribs and sternum, a broken wrist in two places and a broken pelvis in seven places, which basically meant that her spine was not attached to her pelvis. She was in a coma for a long while.
Doctors know very little about what to expect from her healing. We have been asking for prayers, healing and good thoughts to be sent to her. Lee has made some remarkable progress this past year, but she has a very long way to go and needs full-time care.
Before Lee’s accident, I was a successful LTCi specialist and workaholic. I am just getting back to work, but very part time. My husband now teaches only two classes a week. We are dividing and conquering, as they say. My husband and I took turns in the brain stimulation rehab hospital in New Jersey (the only place that would accept her with how low she was functioning). We arrange Lee’s schedule, while being at home with our 11 year-old, trying to provide her with a semblance of normal life. There isn’t much time to do anything else. Our stress levels are off the charts.
The hardest part to comprehend is that there is no break. Ever. Lee’s sleep patterns are off; she has pain and confusion. Her emotions are very real and very strong. So this is as they all told us, a marathon, but one that does not have a clear end in sight.
I have always been fiercely independent. But now, we are taking help from the government, friends, and acquaintances. I have learned to say “yes” to help.
My advice is to check your car insurance and make sure the uninsured motorist coverage is very, very high. It might say $3 million but it often is $1 million per person! In an accident, if the other person has little or no coverage that is all you have to go on.
Make sure your kids over 18 appoint you as their health care proxy until they are married, so that you don’t have to go for conservatorship to help your child. If your child needs the kind of help Lee does, and you need a conservatorship, you will both need an attorney.
Look at your health insurance. Does it have a provision that says the health insurance company is first in line for any money that you get from the car insurance to repay their expenses? Not all carriers do!
I have always advised friends and clients to buy LTCi for their unmarried kids over 18. Not all carriers sell policies to people this young. My kids started heading off to college, strapping us financially. We didn’t follow this advice, so regretfully, my kids don’t have LTCi. We all want the best for our kids. That does not stop when they turn 18 and need this kind of help. Being able to control choices is so important. In addition, being able to have help, so that you can be there for yourself, your spouse, your other kids and of course, other friends, family and commitments would be amazing.
I cannot stress enough the importance of LTCi coverage. We all think it won’t be us or our loved ones, but take it from me, it happens and it is not always short-term. The fear and shock and pain are so great when a care need occurs. In addition to this, without LTCi, you just don’t have options.
I hope I don’t sound preachy, but unfortunately these are things I learned the hard way.
If you are a licensed agent, insurable and don’t already own LTCi, I encourage you to get it right now. If you don’t know how to write it, seek the advice of a wise and knowledgeable LTCi specialist.