A Mother’s Day Moment

The hummingbirds have arrived!  Spring is announcing itself in many ways here in the valley and I always look forward to the trill of the tiny bird’s wings.  They also announce the arrival of Mother’s day.  My children are now out of the house, but I hope to still receive the home-made cards that have become a treasured tradition.  I don’t want to admit it, but I am getting older!

Thinking about what my health and financial needs will be down the road is not really something I want to do on a beautiful spring day, but the reality is – Ladies, we need to do some planning!  If not now? When?  Long term care is a primarily a women’s issues for two reasons.  First, longevity is on our side.  Women on average live five years longer than our same age male counterparts.  Secondly, women often assume the responsibilities around caregiving for aging parents, spouses or other family members.  There are big emotional, physical, and financial implications around this issue.

Long term care describes a variety of services and products, including nursing home care, assisted living, home health care, adult day care, as well as medical equipment and home delivered meals.  It is triggered by a person’s inability to perform normal activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, continence or moving around.

There is a misconception that long term care needs will be paid for by Medicare.  While there is a limited amount of nursing home care available with part A, Hospital Insurance and home health care under a physician’s treatment plan, this government sponsored program is not designed to fulfill all the care  needed.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the average need for LTC is 1,040 days – slightly under 3 years.  The average cost per day is about $260.00 for nursing home care.  The Health Research Institute states the trend of health care inflation being lower in 2014, but 6.5% is still pretty steep!

How will you fund this future intrusion on your financial nest egg?  The sooner you start looking at what you want to accomplish, the more options you have.  You can self-insure.  This is where you build an investment and savings program to provide you with the needed costs.  You can look into a Reverse Mortgage.  Some homeowners qualify to tap into the equity in their home while retaining ownership.  Some life insurance policies provide “accelerated death benefits” to the insured.  You can purchase long-term care insurance.  The benefits and costs vary widely from policy to policy and you need to weigh your options.

These are just a few of the tools to consider.  What is more important is to understand that you are not “average” and you need to look at your family health history, both physical and mental as well as your personal financial situation to assess and ascertain what are the best avenues for your to pursue.

My family is living all of this out in real-time.  My 93 year old Aunty Kay is in her 3rd year at an assisted living facility.  She took the time many years ago to put the proper tools in place, blessing my immediate family to be there for her now without undue emotional, physical or financial burden.

It is time to talk about the foreboding issues that can wreak havoc on families in a variety of ways.  If you have aging parents – talk about what their concerns, hopes and current plans are.  Discuss your own long-term care options with your adult children.  Make sure you have the proper medical power of attorney paperwork in place as part of your planning process. Yes, spring is here!  Mothers – enjoy your special day.  Ladies and gentlemen, we all need to open our eyes to the winter that lies down the road.  Ladies, it is imperative that we make the time to have the discussions, create a plan, and put the proper tools in place to give us peace of mind around how we want to care for ourselves and those around us we care most about.

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