What follows is a true story about a friend and colleague. An extraordinary health event occurred. My friend’s long-term care insurance (LTCi) kicked in, exactly as planned. LTCi has provided dignity for my friend and her family, plus choices and options that would otherwise not be possible.
My Story: Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk
by Allan Shoff
Karen is the love of my life. We’ve been married for 33 years. She was active, passionate and accomplished in her varied life endeavors. Our rich family life was a huge source of satisfaction to Karen. We have two grown children, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Our daughter, son-in-law, and five of our grandchildren have now moved back from Israel to help with Karen’s care.
In 2009, Karen had some tingling in her left arm. We went to Cedars Sinai Hospital’s emergency room where they did several examinations, including a brain scan. There were problems with the machine’s calibration—and with the technician giving the brain scan. Karen got eight times the recommended radiation dosage. Within a short time, she began to experience memory loss. We were part of a class-action lawsuit and received a fairly paltry settlement, which only paid for about eight months of Karen’s care.
Over the past four years, Karen has continued to lose function. She no longer speaks to people or interacts with anyone at a personal level. She has some pain, but more discomfort and fear of falling. Music therapy has been helpful to her, but over the past few weeks, she has become more and more withdrawn, spending virtually the whole day with her eyes closed, and communicating very little with anyone.
Many readers of this newsletter know of Karen. Karen was one of the most passionate, knowledgeable, reputable, accomplished long-term care insurance specialists in the country. She was a visionary and a true leader. She was a featured speaker at NAHU’s 2001 National Convention and a long-time member of the Million Dollar Round Table. She was always seeking ways to give back to the insurance profession and the world. She did whatever she could to foster interest in long-term care insurance education and responsible financial planning.
Karen has her undergraduate degree from Cornell, a master’s from Smith College School for social work, and a master’s from the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at USC. The early part of her career was spent as a social worker at a nursing home.
Karen’s experience as a nursing home social worker made a huge impression on her. In addition, her own experience with her father compelled her to write her widely acclaimed book, “There’s No Place Like [A Nursing] Home”. You can learn about this book and buy a copy at www.longtermcarela.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many advisors have found the book to be a powerful tool in their practice.
The book intimately tells the story of our experience caring for my father-in-law at home. At age 97, my father-in-law suffered a massive stroke. His doctors told us they did not expect him to survive more than a week. Against all odds and advice, but with the wholehearted support of our family, we flew Karen’s father from New York to our home in Santa Monica, CA, and provided him with 24-hour care for the last 11 months of his life. Due to the excellent care Karen arranged for her father at home, he exceeded all expectations and regained his speech. Although he would not re-gain other skills, he found pleasure reminiscing and participating in other facets of family life. Karen publicly expressed, as often as she could, how precious to us all his last few months were.
Thank goodness Karen talked the talk and walked the walk by placing ample long-term care insurance on herself.
Karen has been using caregivers since August 2011. At present, she has 24-hour care with three regular caregivers. One is a nurse who spends about 15 hours a day here, plus two additional part-time caregivers. In addition, our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren all help in various ways. I do what I can, but the whole situation is very trying for me.
Karen owns two CNA LTCI policies, each with lifetime benefit periods and 5% annual compound growth increases. These policies cover about 85-90% of Karen’s care expenses. Without her LTCI, the necessary, dignified, loving level of care Karen receives would be entirely impossible.