Kimber's Blog

Financial Fundamentals: Retirement Plan Series

Kimber L. Barton, CFP®, AIF®
kimber.barton@brentwoodfp.com 615-301-5050; 5409 Maryland Way, Ste. #140; Brentwood, TN 37027

A true story…. (about long term care)

Sometime in 2004 at a family gathering and in the middle of normal conversation, a relative, John, asked me a “business” question. This was unusual because we’d never really talked business before, but sure enough he asked me “what I’d do with” a certain amount of investable assets he had and then asked if I’d help to oversee them… because he said (his exact words) “I’m failing.” He wasn’t referring to his success with the investment, but rather his own mental and physical capacity. He was 79 years old at the time and as it turns out he was experiencing the early stages of dementia. Shortly after that, he had also asked me to look over some long term care coverage they had in place. His wife, Mary, had had two fairly limited policies, bought through retiree associations, and John had a policy with about $38 per day of benefit. I remember thinking cynically to myself “a lot of good that’s going to do….” Shortly after, they both agreed it was a good idea to go ahead and get some additional, more comprehensive coverage for Mary. John would not be eligible for more coverage.

The first truly noticeable effect was that John lost his ability to speak… which for an extremely social and outgoing person was a terrible thing. Over the next few years, other capacities began to deteriorate to the point where he required ongoing supervision and some level of care around the clock. Thankfully, he was eligible to access an adult day care program through the government entity he had spent his career with and this was a life saver for Mary as it allowed her to manage the rest of their lives at least from 9:00 to 3:00 each day. However, the level of care required became greater and the physical and emotional toll on Mary was painfully obvious. It took every ounce of her energy and she had her own health issues that were being neglected.

Then we remembered…John had that $38 per day policy that I had thought wouldn’t be much help. I was wrong. Where they lived, $38 per day was enough for a professional from a home health care agency to come to their home from 7:00 to 9:00 each morning. During that time she helped Mary… by helping John… with the basic activities of eating, dressing, bathing, getting out of bed, getting into the bathroom, into the kitchen etc.…and finally into the car. Then Mary could take him to the day care facility as usual. With that assistance, at a critical time of day in terms of care needed, Mary was able to get her health back. The positive effects on her physical and emotional health were as obvious as the negative effects had been. After about 8 months, John’s condition had deteriorated enough that full-time, facility-care was required, and thankfully, he was eligible to move into a state-run facility for veterans at no cost where he passed away 5 or 6 months later at age 84. More recently, that extra policy they bought for Mary in 2005 has helped to supplement the cost of her assisted living facility for going on 3 years now and so far she has not had to spend one penny of the “nest egg” John asked me to help with back in 2004. That $38 per day kept John home for 8 more months than had he not had it. Equally as important, it helped to restore and protect Mary’s health at the time.

I “changed the names” and omitted a few details for privacy, but I assure you this happened in my family. I want you to understand, that when it comes to Long Term Care, any amount of planning or extra savings and any amount of insurance you can afford will probably help and will be appreciated by family members that might be involved in decision making regarding your care, should you need it. It may not cover the entire cost, BUT it will provide options that can make a difficult situation a little easier and may have far greater impact than you might think it would.


E-mail Kimber with any thoughts you may have regarding this post.

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