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