The following testimonial was written by my colleague, Stacey Merritt. He is a leader in the health insurance industry here in Texas, and nationally. He owns www.tpasystems.net. I thank him for having the courage to share his story. We both hope it will influence more people to plan appropriately for their long-term care.
“My mother, Charlotte, a single parent for my entire childhood, worked two jobs for most of her life. In 2000, at my mother’s age of 77, I received a courtesy call from her employer, the general manager of the nicest hotel in El Paso, Texas, who cordially, but plainly informed me that she had reached the point where she should no longer be working. Of course, he was right. So, within a very few months, I arranged for her to move from her lifelong hometown to Houston, where we could be more involved and keep a close eye on her.
The next twelve years were simply awful; more awful for her, but awful for everyone nonetheless. Unable to work, to socialize in a work setting, and to drive a car depressed her. She didn’t have any assets other than her personal belongings, and we all suspected the day would come when we could no longer be her caregivers. She began withering away before our eyes.
In late May of 2008, we got a call from Life Alert – a great product that helps the elderly contact emergency services. I arrived at her apartment before the paramedics did; she had fallen and broken her hip. While the paramedics were arranging to move her as she laid still on the bedroom floor, she said, ‘I am sorry for what this is going to put you through’. Boy, no kidding!
She never lived alone again. She went through surgery and as much physical therapy as the providers could squeeze out of her Medicare. When my mom moved into our house in August, I became steadfast in being her care provider including showering her three times a week for 18 months.
My wife Kellie and I decided to add a living space downstairs onto the house for my mother. The buildout took longer than we expected; however we were able to move her into her quarters in August of 2009. At this point, she became largely incontinent yet still ambulatory. Once every hour, we commuted to her room to help her to and from the bathroom. I can’t praise my wife enough for the help that she provided during this time; everyone was burdened to be sure.
Finally, in January, 2010, she announced that she couldn’t commute to and from the bathroom anymore. This was the day of reckoning. I responded by saying, “Mom, are you sure? If you are right, this is a game-changer.” She was sure. Within a month, she was out of the house and in a nursing home as a Medicaid beneficiary. She was one of the lucky ones. Turns out that if you have your mental faculties but are physically disabled, as was the case with my mother, the waiting period to get into a nursing home is comparatively short as a Medicaid beneficiary. However, if you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can take many months.
I bought a long term care plan on my mother when we were all much younger. However, I reached a point where I couldn’t pay the premiums and had to let the policy lapse. This was most unfortunate, indeed. By the time I was at a place in life when I could afford the premium, my mother was uninsurable. My biggest regret was the lack of home healthcare benefits to rely on for her care. Had that been in place, she could have stayed home longer and would have been cared for by people more qualified than my wife and me. She might even have been able to die at home.
I can certainly tell you that the LTCi premiums for Kellie and me get paid every month. And yours should, too!”