Add talk on long-term care to spring to-do list

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - Cameron Mor­gan is a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor with A&I Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices LLC. Mor­gan earned an In­ter­na­tional MBA from the Univer­sity of Den­ver in 2004 and has worked as a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor since then.

It’s spring — you made it through win­ter. Now emerge and greet the sea­son with a fresh start at hard con­ver­sa­tions with your fam­ily about your long-term care.

Why long-term care plan­ning? Be­cause the in­ter­net pro­vides many things, but it is no re­place­ment for face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion about your wishes. No prod­uct solves for the fi­nan­cial con­se­quences of need­ing care. The emo­tional con­se­quences can be far steeper.

There are five sim­ple ques­tions that can help jump-start fresh think­ing on the topic and spur se­ri­ous an­swers around an is­sue that of­ten is marked by avoid­ance — “I don’t want to dis­rupt my spouse, im­pov­er­ish my wife, be a bur­den on my adult kids.” Sound fa­mil­iar?

These ques­tions are dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary for each of us to dis­cuss. Ag­ing is not an “opt out” or “un­sub­scribe” ex­pe­ri­ence. Rather, it’s a nat­u­ral part of our lives. Ac­tively de­cid­ing on a plan for your care is ul­ti­mately a gift you give to the loved ones who out­live you.

Here are the ques­tions

Q: Who will pro­vide my care?

A: My spouse.

How­ever, one or both of you may not be able to pro­vide the care for the other, ei­ther be­cause pro­vid­ing care may be a more phys­i­cally de­mand­ing job than is man­age­able, or be­cause you may pre­de­cease your spouse.

Q: Where will I re­ceive care? A: At home.

In­deed, about 71 per­cent of long-term care in­sur­ance claims be­gin at home. This is in part be­cause the av­er­age cost of a pri­vate room in a nurs­ing home in the Den­ver area tops $8,500 per month. ‘Too much!” you say.

So many folks pre­fer to re­ceive care at home that this ques­tion may be the eas­i­est of the five to an­swer. Just an­swer­ing the ‘where?’ ques­tion leaves blank es­sen­tial long-term care plan­ning ques­tions like how, who, when, and how to pay.

Q: Who will fi­nance and co­or­di­nate the care?

A: Medi­care?

The knee-jerk an­swers we fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors hear are, “I’ll pay for it my­self, I guess,” and “My daugh­ter.” Con­sider whether or not this daugh­ter lives nearby, has a fam­ily of her own, or works out­side the home. And when has a knee-jerk re­sponse been good enough in your life? Good plan­ning, es­pe­cially in the form of clear con­ver­sa­tion, is the ma­ture per­son’s path here.

Pay­ing for long-term care falls squarely on your shoul­ders — not Medi­care’s. Your plan may or may not in­clude long-term care in­sur­ance. A po­lar­iz­ing topic, this type of risk pro­tec­tion has seen in­creased com­pe­ti­tion, reg­u­la­tion and prod­uct in­no­va­tion in re­cent years in Colorado. Over­look­ing the ne­ces­sity of a long-term care plan due to a dis­taste for in­sur­ance is a sim­ple mis­cal­cu­la­tion.

Q: What type and amount of care will I need?

A. It de­pends.

Many peo­ple pre­fer to think that their end-of-life jour­ney will be short and peace­ful. Oth­ers cling to an ex­pec­ta­tion that their path will mir­ror their par­ents’ ex­pe­ri­ences. It pays to think back more than one gen­er­a­tion: are (or were) your par­ents’ fi­nal years quite sim­i­lar to, or dis­sim­i­lar from, their par­ents’ fi­nal years? What men­tal ac­count­ing has led you to con­clude that ag­ing to­day will be sim­i­lar to a gen­er­a­tion ago? Might plan­ning and con­ver­sa­tion now — in ad­vance of the need to make de­ci­sions — ease the jour­ney for you and your care­givers?

Ide­ally, clip and share this ar­ti­cle. Use it as a crutch or as a prompt, but use it to start a con­ver­sa­tion about your long-term care plan. It’s on your mind, and has oc­curred to your loved ones. Not talk­ing about a plan doesn’t stop the Earth turn­ing from the short and dark days when we bun­dle up, to the bright breezy spring days when our thoughts turn to fresh starts. Add a long-term care plan to your spring clean­ing.

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