Truth and Consequences - Understanding the Impact of Long-Term Health Care on Families and Finances
Truth. It is a word that has gotten thrown around a lot lately. Consequences become a result of decisions we make. When thinking about the consequences of aging and declining health, are we prepared for how they will affect our families and finances?
Truth or Consequences was a TV game show that started on radio in 1940. The show asked a studio contestant to answer trivia questions, failure to answer correctly meant that the contestant had faced "consequences," often by performing an embarrassing stunt. Bob Barker hosted the TV version of the show from 1956 to 1975.
Life usually revolves around truth and consequences. We see the consequences for every decision we make in our lifetime. How we respond to life's challenges will affect the consequences of our decisions. The implications of some of these life choices can greatly impact our families.
When it comes to the consequences of aging and declining health, many people avoid making any choices until something happens. That, of course, is a choice. The consequences of ignoring long-term health care are more than just financial.
There are some people that think they will never experience the need for long-term care services. For whatever reason, these individuals can never see themselves needing help with daily activities. They certainly can't ever imagine them suffering from dementia and needing to be supervised.
If we consider why people fail to consider the consequences of aging further, the answer is pretty simple. Some people are in denial of the aging process and how declines in health, body, and mind can have an adverse effect on family and finances. Other people, however, have received poor information and made a decision based on that insufficient information. Often it involves the costs of Long-Term Care Insurance or a person's insurability.
The 'truth' is there is a good chance you may need help with daily living activities or supervision due to memory loss. The 'consequences' when you own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy are your family and finances benefit from the resources and services available through the policy.
Those who provide long-term care services know this firsthand. They see the impact and see that those who plan can avoid the negative consequences of a lack of planning.
Kimberly Akers, CSA, is the co-owner/operator of Amada Senior Care in Mesa, AZ.
She recalls the story of "Steve," who was experiencing a decline due to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). His wife was trying to be his caregiver for about a year. He has been living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and his wife served as his primary caregiver until about a year ago when it became too overwhelming for her to solely manage her husband's symptoms and help with his ADLs (activities of daily living).
The good news was Steve owned a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, and they decided they needed to start using the benefits from the policy.
Kimberly Akers, CSA
"Steve decided to start his Long-Term Care Insurance policy benefits, seeing that they would cover in-home care costs. Having this funding option has been a relief to both spouses. His wife is not ready to move out of their home, and now Steve can get the extra support he needs as he manages a new stage of ALS that makes everyday activities like getting ready in the morning more challenging," Akers explained.
Akers said Steve's wife had shared that they had discussed canceling the policy many times, thinking, at times, it was an 'unnecessary expense.'
"They feel so fortunate to be utilizing its many benefits now," she said.
Akers says the LTC policy included a home modification benefit that helped cover the $15,000 cost of remodeling the bathroom, thus making it accessible for Steve's rolling shower chair.
The Long-Term Care Insurance policy has given Steve and his wife the ability to live in their own home. Akers said the benefits from the policy paid for the highly trained caregivers that Amada provided to manage his ALS symptoms.
Quality Care is Not Cheap
The quality of care is a major concern for the adult children, who usually must manage a long-term care situation when no plan is in place. Quality care is expensive and rising as increasing demand and labor shortages push costs up nationwide. The costs do vary depending on where you live, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.
"Having access to quality health care should not be considered a luxury in the Country. It should be viewed as a necessity," said Mike Banner, host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" and an expert on long-term care planning.
In recent years the term "everyone should have access to quality health care" has become the catchphrase of politicians on both sides of the aisle and every drug company trying to sell you something.
"The real truth that no one wants to deal with is, everyone in this great country does have access to quality health care. The problem is not everyone can afford it," Banner explained.
Banner says Long-Term Care Insurance and reverse mortgages are available to provide the funds needed for quality care options.
He says the ability to receive quality care services in today's health care environment continues to get more complicated and expensive over time. Banner notes the combination of skyrocketing costs of long-term care services, the shortage of personnel in the nursing and home care industries, and the many "variables" that COVID-19 (and its many variants) make it even more important to be proactive. When you have a plan in place, you can reduce the adverse consequence of aging and changing health as you get older.
Let's first talk about the possible consequences of having - or not having a plan for long-term health care in place. There are only a handful of outcomes to ponder:
- You Do Nothing and Never Need Care
This is perhaps the best plan if you can arrange for it. You decide you don't plan (which is still a decision), but you are lucky enough never to need care. Unless you have a crystal ball, this really isn't the best decision, but the outcome is good if it happens.
- You Do Nothing but Need Care
By doing no planning is, frankly, not doing nothing. You have decided to accept the outcome of needing help with daily activities or supervision without any help or assistance from an insurance policy. The financial responsibility is yours alone - unless you have little or no income or assets. If that is the case, you could easily qualify for Medicaid benefits.
You might think you have enough savings to pay for any future long-term care but do you? There are a few parts of the equation that are unknown. First, when will you need care and for how long? We have an idea of the costs today, and we have an educated guess about the costs in the decades ahead. However, because we don't know how long you will need, we can only guess the potential financial impact.
Second, we don't know what the financial markets will be when you need care, and your family starts to liquidate your assets to pay for your care.
Consider this, it is September 2008, and you need long-term care. You have a nice nest egg that you have put together from your working years. Your family starts to liquidate your assets to pay for your care. But, at the height of the presidential campaign, on September 29, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68 points. Now, your family is selling off assets at a loss. Some of these 'losses' were still taxable gains.
Maybe you remember Monday, October 19, 1987. The markets sunk 22.6% in one day. Then there was August 1, 2011, when the markets declined 21.58%. Then there was August 18, 2015, when the markets fell 588 points during a two-day period and 1,300 points from August 18–21. On Monday, August 24, world stock markets were down substantially, wiping out all gains made in 2015.
You can't time the markets nor the time you need long-term health care. So, not only did you use your own money, but the costs might also even be more expensive depending on the timing you need care, when, and for how long.
The consequences, however, are more than just financial. Your family must step in and deal with the situation. It probably won't be a spouse as they will either be older and not the best person to be making these decisions or have already passed away.
Your adult children may attempt to become your caregiver. Being a caregiver is physically and emotionally demanding and interferes with their careers, families, and lifestyles. Typically, they are unprepared and untrained for being a caregiver as well. The strain and burdens on your family are very real and will have a lasting impact on their lives.
- You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance and Never Need Care
You make the proactive decision to purchase a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. But, you end up living a long, happy life and never need long-term care. If you knew, for sure, this would be the outcome, you would never buy an insurance policy.
We don't know if we will need long-term care in the real world. Sure, there are statistics, but it will either happen or won't. Anyone who tells you that they know they will never experience declines in their health, body, or mind is not living in reality.
Surveys tell us that most people who purchase Long-Term Care Insurance enjoy 'peace of mind' knowing they have a solution in place which will reduce the stress placed on their family and finances.
The premiums you pay for a policy are usually substantially less than the future cost of long-term health care and the consequences placed on your loved ones.
- You Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance, and You Require Care
This one is easily explained. You understood the risk, and you received the guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of quality care options, including in-home care. Your loved ones have the time to be family instead of caregivers. Plus, since most LTC Insurance plans have case management, the family will get assistance in finding your care and making those arrangements.
In the above example, you owned a policy and had a solution. The 'consequences' were managed, easing the stress and anxiety on everyone in the family.
If you discussed long-term care planning, they generally avoid talking about family. They deal in numbers. In the real world we live in, we understand the consequences on our family - and our finances.
We probably don't need research to tell us most people don't want to burden our spouses or adult children. Failing to plan for long-term care places the entire responsibility on our family.
Sure, money is important, and future care costs are enormous. But feelings are important as well. Most people say they want their loved ones to have the time to be family and not have to deal with being caregivers or having to make huge decisions and arrangements for professional care. It is emotionally draining.
You might make a mistake. Which mistake has the fewest consequences on your family and finances? Most people who purchase Long-Term Care Insurance do so in their 50s when good health allows them the most choices and the smallest premiums. Be sure to seek the assistance of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to assist you in your shopping and planning.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Long-term care is a cash flow problem but also a family problem. Be prepared for the consequences that aging and declining health will have on you and your family. Being prepared will reduce the stress and anxiety on your family, give you access to your choice of quality care options, and safeguard income and assets from the ever-growing costs of care.
If you want to address the consequences, you need a plan. For many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is the solution. You remain in control and avoid being dependent on others. You maintain your choice of care services and preserve your lifestyle and legacy.
However, you cannot delay deciding until your health significantly changes. Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, and every insurance company has its own criteria. Generally, you must have reasonably good health to obtain coverage. You need the help of an experienced and qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist who works with the major companies to guide you in the process.
Today, most people obtain coverage in their 50s.
Seek Professional Guidance
Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.
Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family.
A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Planning Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS
You can find many tools and resources on LTC NEWS to assist you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis.
To help you plan the costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
- The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live. Plus, each state has vital state-specific information you should know - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News
- The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
- Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
- A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Share Your Knowledge - Be A Guest Contributor for LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS is open to contributors to share their stories with the world.
You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.
Be sure to write for our core target audience of adults aged 40 and older. Our audience is worldwide; however, our primary target is the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking nations.
Improve your website or blog's SEO and gain exposure and traffic at the same time by being a contributor to LTC NEWS.
You can even promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. However, it must have editorial content exclusive to 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.
Email your story idea or article: firstname.lastname@example.org - LTC News Contributors | LTC News
Your Marketing and Advertising Partner – LTC NEWS
Use LTC NEWS to drive traffic to your website and help you attract people interested in your products and services. Plus, you can improve your website's SEO so more consumers can find you when they search for your products and services.
There are various marketing options available with LTC NEWS. Traditional advertising, sponsored content articles, strategic alliances, and more are available.
Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.
LTC NEWS offers a 'helpful links' page so readers looking for additional information can find them easily. You can get a dofollow link to your website on LTC NEWS in exchange for a dofollow link on your site.
Let's work together and help consumers who search for us on the web - Site Request | LTC News.
You can also affordably purchase a dofollow link to your website or blog on LTC NEWS. Just contact the advertising department.
Sharing News with LTC NEWS
Include LTC NEWS in your press release distribution. If your group, organization, business, political committee, etc., have news to share, send it to LTC NEWS. Email - email@example.com
Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim
LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
You can also get support in finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities
If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.
Take a moment and read -