BY: Thomas Crawford, a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Louisville. He wrote the following op-ed regarding his experience with his wife and how key Long Term Care Insurance was with his family.
This is a rather personal note and therefore, a difficult one to write, but in doing so I hope it prompts someone who reads it to take note of my experience.
My wife, Wanda, spent two years in what are referred to as memory care units; she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing that there was some strong possibility that Wanda might inherit whatever genes her father had, and which he inherited from his mother, both of whom were Alzheimer’s victims, I made an important financial decision in the year I retired, 1998.
At that time Wanda showed no symptoms of having Alzheimer’s disease. She was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother and a very giving person, who enjoyed having guests in our home and was an excellent cook. She enjoyed having a number of close personal friends, and those who knew her considered her quite special.
The financial decision I made was to purchase long-term health care insurance, and while my life has not been distinguished by a history of insightful financial choices, this was an uncommonly wise choice.
My recommendation is that you investigate long-term health care insurance, especially if you have a family member who is in that age bracket where the prospect of developing Alzheimer’s is increased, and especially if there is any history of Alzheimer’s or other dementia in your family.
Here is the reality of what you may be facing: a nursing home monthly fee of $6,000 or higher. You may feel prepared financially to cover that kind of expense, but that’s just the beginning. It can easily go over a total of $80,000 a year, when you add in medications, doctor’s fees, personal needs, transportation, etc. At that rate, it doesn’t take long to wreck an estate you had planned to leave for your children and grandchildren.
The hardest part of all of this is seeing someone you love slipping away day by day. Looking into eyes that only a few months ago were full of life, but now seem empty and on a given day may not even recognize you as someone with whom she or he spent all those years together since high school.
That’s not the way you wanted to see it come to an end. But as painful as that can be and as great as the emotional cost is, what you don’t need is an additional crisis because of the financial cost of the care your loved one requires. So, think about long-term health care insurance. I hope you don’t need it, but if you do, health insurance will help with one aspect of this terrible disease.
On June 11, 2014, complications from Alzheimer’s disease took Wanda. Even though the previous two years were in excellent nursing facilities, and I saw her almost every day, most of those days were not the best of times. But, at least I did not have to worry about going bankrupt because of the expenses.