Thank you to my dear friend and colleague Tobe Gerard, of www.TobeGerardInsurance.com for allowing me to re-publish the following poignant and true story:
“I met with Valerie and Eric last week. Valerie is 58 and Eric is 60. They self-reported to be in good health. They have been married for 35 years and have two grown children. Eric works full time as a software engineer. Valerie is looking for a job. Based upon their recent personal experience with Valerie’s mother, their financial advisor recommended that they meet with me to learn more about long term care insurance.
Their story starts five years ago when Valerie left her full time management job to care for her mother in their home. Valerie has two sisters who live in the next town who said that they would definitely be willing to help out, but whenever Valerie asked for their help they were never available. Her three brothers are scattered throughout the U.S. and “helicoptered” in no more than five times each during the five years of their mother’s decline. Valerie’s mother passed away in August and Valery still looks exhausted. Her latent frustration was pretty poignant: “My dad died when he was in his 30’s. My mother had to raise all 6 of us kids by herself and she did it without a complaint. How is it that 1 mother can raise 6 children, but 6 children can’t take care of 1 mother!”
Family caregiving has very little romance attached to it. It’s a 24/7 job that allows the caregiver to work longer and harder than at any paid position he/she will ever have. 2/3 of all unpaid caregivers are women. Most are middle aged. Many are at the height of their careers. Most are not prepared for the complicated and difficult role that they’ve signed on for as they bear witness to a loved one’s functional status decline inch by inch. Valerie admitted to being continually sleep deprived, anxious, short tempered, and she became a “½ empty’ rather than a “½ full” person as depression set in. She noticed that she had less and less time for her own family, friends, and neighbors, but she still believed that family caregiving was the right solution. As the years went by, Eric found himself no longer feeling the same way. He felt helpless as he watched the demands that his mother in law’s care was placing upon his wife’s well-being. He didn’t want his mother in law to pass, but he didn’t want to lose his wife either. He wondered when their life had become so unmanageable.
We were able to have a solid conversation about how they thought a long term care event would affect each of them based upon what they had just lived through. Eric admitted that they didn’t have a plan in place should either of them need long term care: “They offered us long term care insurance at work a few years ago, but I never gave it a serious thought. We were in good health so we thought we could put it off and talk about it down the road.” For people who are 58 and 60, there is no “down the road.” I explained to them that there is a cost to waiting, and that cost is that if something changes with their good health then they may not be able to purchase LTCi in the future. Exploring long term care insurance now would allow them to put a plan in place so that they could eliminate a crisis in the future, allowing their children to avoid what they had lived through with Valerie’s mother.
As advisors we don’t talk enough about the non financial benefits of having a LTCi policy; it allows families to maintain and restore the healthy functional roles and relationships that we want and need to have in place when a loved one requires care. The benefits of having a LTCi policy in place reaches families every day and continues to have an incredibly positive impact.
Any LTCi is better than none. Even a modest LTCi policy can be a lifesaver. I have a 91 year old client with a diagnosis of Dementia who is claiming benefits under his policy at the present time. His policy pays $100/day which provides him with 4 hours of home care, 7 days/week. Those 4 hours of home care allow his 88 year old wife to no longer have to bathe him, shave him, brush his teeth, dress him, prepare his breakfast, or do their laundry. Those 4 hours of home care are a godsend!”