The blog below was written by my good friend and long-time colleague, Phyllis Shelton. I’ve re-published it because I can’t possibly think of a way to say it better. Thank you, Phyllis!
Okay. You need a grownup question to ask your parents besides,
- Can I borrow the car keys? Or Have you seen my car keys?
- When am I going to get a car?
- Can I get a raise on my allowance?
- Can I have a toy, ice cream, ANYTHING?
You are WAY PAST those whiny ones. Your parents (or someone) generally raised you out of them. They took care of you, good, bad or indifferent childhood as you may have had. They sheltered you, fed you, sent you to school, and kept you from dying before today from all the crazy things you did as a kid.
Now it’s your turn. We don’t ever, ever, EVER want to think of our parents as getting old and needing our help.
I get it. But think you must.
With the pandemic and news shouting at you on every device that saving for retirement is going to be even harder now, is it even possible to consider that you might have to step up and help your parents
…at the peak of your career
…when you are sending your own kids to college?
…when you are trying to make (or repair) your marriage to be the best ever?
Fortunately, you don’t have to…if you ask The Question.
Mom/Dad, do you have long-term care insurance?
Then before they can react, add “I really appreciate everything you have done for me. I want to know you will be taken care of someday just as well as you have taken care of me.”
If the answer is “yes,” ask them to show you where the policy is in case you need to access it suddenly.
If the answer is “mind your own business,” you have to be firm with “This is my business. You are my parents and I owe you everything. I want to be there for you, but I will need the resources so I can quarterback your care. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do it myself plus take care of [name your spouse, children].
Oh honey we would never expect you to do that.
Then give me two minutes to tell you what I have learned from TIME, Inc.
- Most long-term care which is care lasting longer than 90 days is not in a nursing home.
- Most people are never in a nursing home.
- A spouse (partner) can’t do it all. Mom will want to, but we want her to have time with [name your kids]. She will need time to rest and when is the last time she picked you up?
- Hiring caregivers in 20 years could easily cost $40/hr. That gets to be a couple of hundred thousand a year pretty fast.
- Those country club assisted living facilities are projected to be a quarter of a million a year in 20 years…couples can stay together when they no longer want to keep up their house and they look nothing like nursing homes…
- Health insurance and Medicare don’t pay for long-term care. After about three months, you are on your own…pay with your own money, pay with some type of long-term care insurance, or go on Medicaid, which means spending down most of your retirement savings.
- Over half of people age 65 are expected to need some type of LTC in their lives…probably won’t be nursing home care, but home care can actually cost more than a nursing home, depending on how much you have. [Reference another family if you know one that has spent an inordinate amount of money today…like “you know Jamie had to hire round the clock caregivers for his dad for four years at over $200,000 a year and he just passed away a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine what they would pay 20 years from now.]
- Today there are policies that have guaranteed premiums so you never have to worry about rate increases and can be paid off early so you don’t have to pay premium in retirement.
- Policies like these return the money to a beneficiary if you never need care so it’s not the “use it or lose it” kind.
- There are policies that pay a cash benefit so you can save money by hiring anyone you want to take care of you.
- All those benefits are tax-free.
- There are policies that you can buy with your IRA or 401(k) if that’s the best way and even those can be tax-free after a few years.
- There are even policies that protect your assets from Medicaid if you ever had to go in that direction. What worries me about this is with this pandemic, state budgets are really slashed and it might be tough to get much help from Medicaid when you need it.
I love you Mom and Dad and I’m bringing this up because I want to be sure you are taken care of as well as you took care of me [and name your siblings]. You have to check on this stuff when your health is good so that’s why I’m bringing it up now. If I gave you a couple of websites to look at, would you do that for me?