Life happens and it’s sometimes not how we planned!
While we’re just past Independence Day, I wanted to tell you about the June my husband and I experienced. Trust me, it wasn’t exactly what we had planned but we learned and grew. The most important was the reality that we needed to update our own long-term care insurance policies so that we have better coverage in the event one of us needs care whether that’s as we age or in case of an accident.
What happens if long-term care insurance isn’t available?
In June, my mother-in-law was moved from independent living to a memory care center. After 15 years of seizures coupled with dementia, we knew it was time for her to move to a new facility. She was no longer safe for herself or others where she was living. My husband, Eric is her medical and mental health power-of-attorney, which means that is falls on him to make all decisions regarding her care. It’s stressful and time consuming and we can never be sure we’re making the best decisions.
When I met my husband 13 years ago, his mother was already having seizures so long-term care insurance wasn’t an option for her, though I wish it had been. After spending down all of her assets, she is now on ALTCS, state-funded long-term care insurance. She has a case worker who does her best but she has a huge caseload and not much help caring for her clients.
The result of all of these factors is that my mother-in-law was moved to a memory care center but we had no choice of where she went. The state and her case worker had just three options - one in metro Phoenix and two in Mesa. There were no beds available at the Phoenix location. As someone who likes to plan, it was challenging for me to let go and trust the process.
Families, stress, and independent living
Five years ago we were in an even more stressful situation when we went through the process of getting my mother-in-law into the independent living facility. In addition to having to move his mother from her home to a new location, there was stress between him and his sister that caused a permanent rift.
If I’ve talked to you about long-term care insurance as part of your retirement plan, this is why. It can be horribly stressful on those you love and can require spending down most of the money you’ve worked so hard to save. I hadn’t seen his sister until June 25th, just a few weeks ago. June 25th is my husband’s birthday. No, we didn’t see her for his birthday. She came to the hospital when my husband was in surgery after a bad cycling accident!
Gratefully, Eric is doing much better now after two surgeries but he broke his wrist and shoulder. The surgery on his birthday was his wrist, followed a few weeks later by shoulder surgery. This means 8-12 weeks in casts and slings before physical therapy starts. For the first week I pretty much had to do everything for him.
He needed ice bags every four hours and a pain pill every six hours. He needed to eat to take the medication but he was uncomfortable and had no appetite. So there I was, one of the least qualified people to be a nurse, running to the store multiple times a day for ice, food, and bandages. This was in addition to running our household that includes dogs, making doctors’ appointments, driving Eric to appointments, oh and running my business! To say I was exhausted would be an understatement but it was a learning opportunity also.
I learned that I can handle whatever life throws our way and while we can’t plan for accidents or aging, we could, in the midst of the craziness, review our own long-term care insurance policy. We didn’t want to be in the position if his mother who had to spend her life savings in her older years. We also needed to know we had coverage in case of another (worse) accident.
Long-term Care Insurance Review
Thank goodness Eric will be okay and we didn’t need to use our long-term care policy. We learned our current policies have a 90-day elimination period before we can go on-claim. What that means is that we would pay for any care we need out of pocket for 90 days. It didn’t seem that big of a deal until this accident.
As a short-term caregiver, I now know that if he were truly in a position to need longer-term care, I couldn't keep this pace up for 90 days and still run my business. And, boy did I miss being at the office! I am not cut out to be a nurse and appreciate doctors and nurses even more after this experience. We’ve reworked our policy from 90-days to 30-days which sounds more reasonable.
To learn more about the costs of long-term care and the impact that I can have on your retirement plan, I’d love for you to view the webinar that I just launched. You’ll find a link to it in the sidebar. I hope you had a great Independence Day. And I hope July is a better month in my house than June was!!