I was recently able to re-connect with a high school friend, Renee, who I hadn’t seen in years. She’d been living in Texas since graduation and was coming home for a visit. We got together, and after catching up on husbands and kids, it was on to the parents. Her dad had been the dean at our local community college for several years, and to say he was frugal is an understatement. He actually used to charge us mileage when we used any of his cars. Needless to say, we usually used one of my dad’s vehicles. My dad was a contractor, so it was often a dump truck, but we preferred it to paying mileage!
Anyway, she was in town to deal with her dad’s estate as he died a few months ago. Her journey into long-term care started several years ago with her mother. She tried to be a long-distance caregiver for her mother who had dementia, but it was very difficult as her three daughters were just in grade school. Renee has an older brother, but he lives in Australia, so he couldn’t help other than to provide financial assistance, if necessary. She had been concerned about her father’s ability to meet the mom’s growing needs and suggested to him that she move her mother to an assisted living facility in her town that specializes in dementia care. Her parents were very frugal (again, a serious understatement) and she was very concerned that he would not agree to the $5,000 per month price tag. She spoke to her brother and they decided they would pay for it if dad refused. She was absolutely astonished when her father told her they had long-term care insurance. When she contacted the assisted living facility in Texas, they said they would accept the insurance and had in fact worked with their carrier on several occasions. A year or so later, her father began to have some issues and moved into the same assisted living facility. Renee said they each had a $5,000 per month benefit for 5 years. The mother was on claim for four years and the father was on claim for three years before passing away. During that time, Renee was able to visit them every day after bringing her kids to school and they were able to share every holiday and birthday together which they hadn’t been able to do for years due to the distance between Texas and New York.
She is absolutely convinced, if they hadn’t had the long-term care insurance, there is no way he would have spent $10,000 per month for both to be in the assisted living facility. I believe her. She recalled the conversations she and her brother had at the beginning of the journey and how they would handle things. She recalled how stressful it became because they knew they couldn’t force their father to pay for the care, but they were also very concerned about his ability to care for their mom. Then, she recalled the relief she felt when her father told her they had long-term care insurance. She said it was a huge weight lifted off her shoulders.
This is another situation where the money to pay for the care isn’t really the issue. The issue is the willingness to use the money to pay for the care. Two very important and very different issues that must be addressed because in the end, if you have a long-term care event and you aren’t insured, the premium at that point could be everything you own.[insert page='boxes' display='content']