It happens to other families, certainly not ours. Those were the thoughts of Carol, a 54-year-old mother of three from Wichita who recalls the three-year nightmare her family has been living in since her mother had a stroke.
"My mom was an active and healthy 75-year-old. I usually spoke with her every morning before leaving for work. I remember that morning as she didn't answer the phone. That was unusual. Even if she started her day early, she would always answer or quickly call back," Carol explained.
That morning would be very different for Carol, her mother, and the rest of her family. Carol texted her mom before getting into the car for work. Carol's mom, Barbara, used her smartphone to text and take and send photos. Carol knew her mom would respond fairly quickly. This day things would be different.
"There was no response at all, and now it's lunchtime. I called again and no answer. Now am I officially worried," Carol explained.
Worry Turns into Crisis
Carol called her sister and expressed her concern. Carol's sister Valerie seemed less concerned, but her husband Ryan, who is a computer technician, agreed to drive to her house and check on her. What Ryan discovered would change everyone's life.
As Ryan pulled into the driveway, he noticed the garage door was open with the car in the garage. He took short steps as he approached the garage, looking around to see if anything was unusual. As he got closer, he saw Barbara on the floor of the garage next to her car. Her purse next to her with the contents scattered all over.
"My brother-in-law ran up and found her still alive but non-responsive. He called 911. The paramedics arrived quickly. Ryan said it seemed like it was less than two minutes before he heard the sirens as the police, fire department, and the ambulance arrived. The paramedics said it appeared to have been a stroke. He called, and we all left for the hospital," Carol said.
Barbara spent a week in the hospital with three days in the ICU. Barbara's doctor and the hospital case manager wanted a meeting with Barbara's family.
The Conference Room Meeting
Carol's husband Mike, her sister Valerie and her husband Ryan, and Carol's brother Eric, who flew in from San Diego, sat in this conference room at the hospital’s ICU unit. None of them were sure what would happen next.
"We all thought that Mom would recover and go back to her very active life. She was involved in everything. She volunteered at the church. She had her poker club; yes, all these older retired women loved to play poker. They all played with pennies just for fun. They said playing bridge was for older people. She walked her little poodle. Mom was full of life," Carol said.
Life changed forever that day when Barbara had a significant stroke as she was getting into her car. The neurologist and three other doctors, and the hospital case manager explained the extent of the stroke.
Impact of the Stroke
The doctors said the stroke occurred on the right side of the brain. It left partial paralysis on her left side, some vision problems with one eye, and apparent memory loss. The doctors told the family that about one-third of all stroke victims experience problems with memory in addition to any physical issues they may experience.
This vascular dementia was going to change Barbara's life and that of her family dramatically. She will need rehabilitation to try to improve some of her functional and cognitive loss. However, the doctors said Barbara's likelihood of full recovery was slim. She would need long-term health care for the rest of her life. It would not be easy and could be very costly.
"We were all frozen as the doctors left. The hospital case manager explained that they would transfer Mom to a rehabilitation facility. When we asked what happens after that, the case manager started asking questions," Carol said.
The case manager asked who had medical and financial power-of-attorney. She wondered if Barbara owned Long-Term Care Insurance. She asked about the financial resources available to pay for a nursing home or in-home care.
"We never had these discussions. Mom was healthy. She was active. We never thought about what would happen because it wasn't going to happen. When Dad died, she bounced back, lost weight, and really started to live life to the fullest. We were very proud of her. My brother asked onetime about 'her plans,' and her response was nothing was going to happen, and she quickly changed the subject," she explained.
Daughter to Caregiver
Today Carol is the primary caregiver. Barbara has some savings they use to get caregivers to come in for about eight hours per day. Carol's sister Valerie helps a few hours each day as well. Mike, who lives in San Diego, likes to 'bark orders' from afar.
"This has become my responsibility. I was able to go part-time at work, so I have some time to be the caregiver. My sister can't do it. My brother just tells us the things we are doing wrong. My family never sees me, and I wonder why Mom didn't plan for this. At one point, I thought she hated me since she knew I would do all of this for her. But did she realize how difficult it would be? It isn't easy. I know she is suffering, but the rest of us are suffering as well," Carol said.
Carol's role as the primary caregiver is physically and emotionally demanding. Carol knows in her heart that her mom doesn't hate her. Nobody knows if Barbara ever thought about the consequences of aging and the costs and associated burdens that long-term care would have on her daughters and her son.
No Plan Means Family Crisis
Unfortunately, Carol's feelings are not that uncommon, nor is the family strife that occurs in this type of crisis. It is one of the adult children who take on caregiving's primary responsibility and managing any paid services.
Health insurance, including Medicareand supplements, will only pay for a small amount of skilled long-term care services. Medicaid, the medical welfare program, only pays when a person has little or no assets and income. In the absence of advance planning, the financial responsibility is placed on the person who needs care. The remaining responsibility falls on the family, usually a daughter or daughter-in-law.
Carol and her siblings know that Barbara didn't want them to carry this burden. Barbara's lack of planning was not out of hate or unconcern. Today's sandwich generation, those who are caring for a parent and their own children at the same time, are experiencing the consequences of long-term health care.
Long-Term Care Insurance Eases Future Family Burdens
As a result of this personal experience, many couples in their 40s and 50s are putting Long-Term Care Insurance into place, so their adult children don't face the stress and burden like Carol and her family are experiencing right now.
Think about which one of your children will take responsibility decades from now when your health starts to decline. How will your children interact with each other? Think about how the role of being a caregiver will affect their career, spouse, and children.
You probably don't hate your children. You probably do not want to intentionally burden them in the future. Caregiving is hard on your loved ones. Caregivers face health issues and anxiety. The cost of paid long-term health care is expensive. Even wealthy people can feel the pinch. Plus, the costs continue to increase with ever greater demand for services and fewer caregivers and facilities offering care.
The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you both the current and future cost of care services where you live.
LTC Insurance is Affordable but Be Careful When Shopping
Some people think Long-Term Care Insurance is prohibitively expensive. Some companies offer expensive policies, but premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. An experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can review all the major companies and help you select the most affordable option based on your age, health, family history, and other factors.
There are several types of policies a person can choose. However, some policies are not Long-Term Care Insurance policies at all. Unqualified insurance agents or financial advisors who lack understanding will sometimes recommend an inappropriate or too expensive product.
Avoid the mistake of using a general insurance agent or financial advisor. Seek the help of a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist representing the industry's major companies and has substantial experience in this area. Experience is not calculated only in years. Experience is the number of clients that the agent has helped obtain Long-Term Care Insurance. A few hundred is good; however, top specialists have thousands of clients.
Find a trusted and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist by clicking here.
Carol and her husband, and her sister Valerie and her husband are purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance because of what they witnessed with their mom. Their brother Mike was not convinced at first but now understands the importance of having a policy. Carol reminded him he was not providing Barbara's care and was not dealing firsthand with the consequences.
Their families will enjoy peace-of-mind. No matter how healthy we may be today, we will experience changes in our health due to an illness, an accident, or the consequences of aging. Our bodies and minds decline over time.
We have more longevity than ever before. Preparing for the financial costs and related burdens of aging is an essential part of retirement planning. However, long-term care is not only a cash flow problem. It is a family problem. We cannot prevent aging. Aging happens. We can prepare for the consequence of aging and the related changes in our health.
Very few people enjoy buying insurance. However, Long-Term Care Insurance addresses the consequences of aging. The problems we will face decades from now involve both your family and finances. Affordable LTC Insurance will give you guaranteed tax-free resources for your choice of quality care, including in-home care. With these resources in place, your family will have the time to be family and not the responsibility of being a caregiver.
Available Tools on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers multiple tools and resources to help you research the financial costs and burdens of aging so you can find an affordable solution. Click here and discover these resources.
This comprehensive guide is an outstanding first-read - The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide. Be sure to take notes so you can ask the appropriate questions when you speak with a qualified and trusted Long-Term Care Insurance specialist.
This conversation is one you should have with a specialist as most financial advisors, or insurance agents lack the knowledge required in underwriting, policy design, tax implications, and claims. Find a specialist who works with the major companies by clicking here.
One of the best tools is the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. You can find the current and future costs of long-term health care where you live. This information will help you design an appropriate LTC Insurance policy.
Get Published on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers many resources to help families address the consequences of long-term care, aging, health, caregiving, and other retirement issues. You can be part of the effort to help educate consumers throughout the U.S. and around the world.
Write a story for publication on LTC NEWS and let America hear what you have to say. Be sure your article fits the LTC NEWS target audience of adults 40-70.
Topics can include stories on:
- Long-Term Care
- Retirement Planning
There are an abundant of other related topics, as well. You can even promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. It must have editorial content exclusive for LTC NEWS and cannot be just an advertisement. It can include links to other sites, and you can share the article link once published on your website or social media.
Advertising and Marketing Opportunities on LTC NEWS
Reach an educated audience. Readers of LTC NEWS are researching retirement issues, including aging, health, caregiving, and long-term care. Other readers seek information for a parent or other loved one who is experiencing declining health or aging issues and require extended care.
Many marketing opportunities are available, including sponsored content articles. Sponsored content offers you a long-form way to sell yourself, your company, and your ideas.
Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business - click here.