Over the years, I’ve written multiple blogs posts about the importance of creating a solid long term care plan to address your late life wishes. Make the plan and share it with your family. And yet, time after time, I read horror stories about unnecessary suffering, neglect and even death because they never had “the conversation”. As if avoiding this important discussion gives them some artificial sense of control and safety. There is a cost of avoidance and it’s very high.
“I’d rather die than talk about this.”
The truth is that once chronic health problems arise, your ability to make good decisions often decreases. This is partly because your brain may have reduced cognitive powers. And also because making good choices becomes harder when you’re feeling panicked with fewer options. It’s really hard to see the big picture when it feels like your world is getting smaller.
Mr. & Mrs. Shaver Paid the Cost of Avoidance
As reported in the New York Times (Dec 2019), their love story is the thing movies are made of. A romantic courtship and a loving marriage of 60 years. Unfortunately, his wife starting showing signs of dementia. Even though his children encouraged hiring home care help, Mr. Shaver refused any discussion. “Mind your own business. I’m taking care of it.”
He had ample savings for their retirement, so we know the cost of hiring help was not the issue. As the sole caregiver to his wife, he was obviously aware of her declining state of mind. However, he was unwilling to make any move that would improve their environment.
It must have broken his heart to see the love of his life disappear from his life. She no longer recognized him or their daughters. One day, while she was asleep, her loving husband laid down in bed next to her and shot his wife. And then shot himself.
The Time to Plan is Now
I’ve been helping people create these plans for 30 years. One thing I’ve learned is that having such a plan in place provides a peace of mind and increases quality of living. Without the comfort of a strategy, the fear of aging only grows over the years. As you age, the concerns over injury (falling in the shower, tripping over furniture, dizziness from medications) can contribute to mounting fears.
Once the fear takes hold, it becomes harder to make clear and thoughtful decisions. I’ve done several blogs on age-related brain loss and cognitive decline.
For most of us, whether we’re middle class or more affluent, owning long term care insurance (LTCi) is critical for ensuring dignity, options, and access to quality long term care. But it’s not enough. You must have ongoing, difficult conversations with your family so everyone understands the outcome you desire.
Click here to receive a free, no-obligation quote for your own LTCi coverage. Your family will thank you.