Consider Care Management Early

CARE MANAGER'S CORNER - Author : Eileen Dunn, MS, CMC, CLTC, Geriatric Care Manager

I provide care management services for retired priests in our diocese. One of the priests, I was following, moved back to the small town he was from and where his two sisters still live. When he first retired he was active in the community and still said mass and conducted weddings and funerals to earn a little extra money to supplement his retirement income. He did this well into his eighties.

A few years ago, at age 86, the aging process started catching up with him. He was hospitalized with vertigo (dizziness) with nausea and vomiting. I visited him in the hospital to discuss his plan of care and my concern about his living in a second-floor apartment and having to go up and down stairs, particularly in light of the vertigo diagnosis. I had already spoken with the landlord and received permission to have a stair lift installed. Now, I just needed to talk to Father about it and see if he could afford the $2,200 price tag. Imagine my surprise when he said “do you think my long-term care insurance would help with that?” Usually, the first question I ask is if they have long-term care insurance. For some reason I just assumed he did not. (Yes, I know what they say about assuming and I definitely won’t make that mistake again!)

I reviewed his policy and it included a Home Modification benefit that would pay 90 times his daily benefit for “Items intended to relieve your need for direct physical assistance and are expected to enable you to remain safely in your home for at least 90 days after the date of purchase or first rental of the item”. His daily benefit was $200 per day and his policy covered $1,800 for the lift chair allowing him to return safely to his apartment. Although I tried to find him a first-floor apartment for the following year, in a rural area, there just weren’t any available.

A year later he began having other medical issues. One day when we were talking about his final wishes and reviewing all his paperwork to be sure he had his affairs in order, he told me why he bought long-term care insurance. While he was working full time and living in the rectory, he had saved about $250,000. It was very important for him to leave something to his two sisters and something to the church. He had spent some time as a hospital chaplain and realized that his savings wouldn’t last long if he needed care, so he bought long-term care insurance with Partnership asset protection. He was able to stay at home for another year but then required nursing home placement.

I visited him recently and learned that his long-term care insurance had exhausted and he was in the process of applying for Medicaid. Because he had asset protection under his Partnership policy, all his savings were protected. He then told me that he’d given $100,000 to his church to make some necessary repairs and build an addition for a parish center. He gave the rest to his sisters. He decided to gift the money while he was living, so he could enjoy seeing them use it.

Father lived very frugally and didn’t have a lot, but he understood the importance of protecting what he did have. He understood that if he would have a long-term care event and he wasn’t insured, the premium, in effect, would be everything he owned including all the saving he worked so hard for. And now, he has a parish center named after him.

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