As you gather for the holidays with your family, you may want to consider having a conversation about long term care. Sue Davies has a personal story to share that illustrates why it’s an important discussion.
In March of 2007, my dad had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side and unable to speak clearly. It was a debilitating stroke that required him to have full time care. My mom had passed away eleven years before and my siblings and I were at a loss as to what to do. We had no idea what type of insurance Dad had. We had no idea where his assets were managed. We had no idea if he had a healthcare directive. The four of us spent days going through papers to piece together his assets, insurance, bank information and debts.
Initially Medicare kicked in, and he was able to rehabilitate in a wonderful facility for three and a half months. He had some assets we were able to use to keep him at this level of care for a little while, but the spend down was happening quickly, and soon he had to be placed in a convalescent home in our hometown of Madison, Connecticut. It was very depressing. My dad was a bigger than life gentleman, always coiffed and dressed to the nines. Even with his stroke he had his humor and twinkle, but this environment extinguished his spark. We were truly at a loss.
Then on a beautiful summer day, my sister and I were visiting Dad with our kids, and we decided to take the kids to the beach. While sitting on the beach, an old friend of mine from high school came by to say hello. She happened to be visiting from France, where she lived with her husband and kids. While catching up, I mentioned what happened to Dad. The very next day my sister got a phone call from my high school friend’s father. He was Dad’s insurance agent and had sold him a long-term care policy long before the stroke. We had no idea. Within two weeks, we used the long-term care funds to retrofit Dad’s house with a ramp, wider doorways and all the things needed for home care. We hired a wonderful full-time caregiver who cared for Dad through the end of his life. Had we not gone to the beach on that beautiful day in July and met my friend from high school who was visiting from France, we may never have known.
Things happen suddenly and often catch us off-guard.
My hope in sharing this story with you is that you will take the opportunity to have a conversation with your family about the inevitability of growing old and what your plans/desires are if you or any member of your family has the need for care in the future.