At the time I would have argued with you vehemently, but you would have been right!
Based on my commitment to my dad, my sense of duty and my own idea of what to expect in my new role as a caregiver (and little actual research or planning), in my mind I was prepared.
“It won’t be a problem,” I reassured my husband. Dad’s cool—no Alzheimer’s, he takes care of himself and does well getting around the house. Sure, he needed some limited help to live on his own, but he was still the active and robust dad that I had known my entire life.
I can now tell you—complete with battle scars and learn-as-you-go frustrations—how quickly I learned how significantly a family is impacted when they are not fully prepared to provide care. I didn’t know that:
- You can’t take vacations without live-in assistance ($20 hour). In my case, Dad refused to go to a short-term nursing facility and I felt guilty.
- My dad’s senile dementia, though not very perceptible initially, would deteriorate and trap us so we could not go out to the store or anywhere for more than a few hours for fear he would decide to cook or walk down the street alone—neither of which he could do without hurting himself.
- Numerous and inevitable health issues would pop up with more frequency, causing me to miss critical work time.
- My husband’s dream of building a restaurant for retirement income would fall to the wayside because it would cost more and more to support my dad while we both worked extensive hours.
- The issue of dealing with memory loss and associated combative behavior would cause fights, arguments and guilt.
- The progressive need for care would create a need for more skilled “sitters” if my husband and I succeeded in getting away for a few days. Such care was needed for prevention of bed sores, maintenance of feeding tubes, and monitoring of questionable continence.
My dad lived to be 90 years old and was near the end of his retirement savings when he passed away. I kept my promise to have him stay with us for as long as he was able, but I paid a bigger price than I could have imagined all those years ago when I made that promise. I’m more convinced than ever that planning for my own later years with tools like long-term care insurance is a must for me and my family.
While you can’t plan for everything, long-term care insurance would have helped eliminate unnecessary stress and certain unknowns for me while I was caring for my dad. Simply put, it provides caregiving options that ensure you or your family members receive the care you need without depleting your savings.
Long-term care insurance ensures that families don’t have to assume the numerous demands of caregiving alone. In addition to custodial care at a nursing home or assisted living facility, most long-term care insurance plans cover adult day care services and home care that can give family caregivers a much-needed (and well-deserved!) break from their caregiving responsibilities. Some plans also have flexible options that will cover care provided by friends or family members, training for informal caregivers, home modifications and medical equipment.
Not everyone likes to talk about getting older and planning for our later years. It can be a very emotional subject. But finding a simple, worry-free solution will give you peace of mind knowing that your financial security is protected and you receive the care you need.
I encourage you to use Long-Term Care Awareness Month as an opportunity to learn more about the resources and products available to plan for your future long-term care needs and begin this important discussion with your loved ones.