February is for Groundhog Day, and Long Term Care Planning for your Valentine

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in Newsletter | 0 comments

February is for Groundhog Day, and Long Term Care Planning for your Valentine

Every year we hear reporting on the rather quaint – but nonsensical event held each February 2. A groundhog emerges from his burrow in the morning, and if the animal sees his shadow and retreats back to the burrow, winter will last 6 more weeks. Of course, if the weather is cloudy and no shadow is seen, it is said that spring will come early.

Huh? As far as quaint traditions go, it’s cute, and no one gets hurt. That is, unless people actually make plans contingent on the groundhog being accurate!

Truth be told, many people don’t do long term care planning for reasons that make just about as much sense as a groundhog’s ability to predict the weather.

“I’m planning on living a long life. Living to the age of 100 sounds about right for me!”

Although most 50-year-olds do not currently need care, let’s think about it. How many 90-year old people do you know who don’t need help?

Honestly, don’t you think that planning on living to 100 without considering how to pay for long term care isn’t the best course of action? At the risk of being flip, it makes about as much sense as traveling to the tropics without packing a bathing suit…or relying on a burrow animal to predict the weather.

“No one in my family ever needed long term care. I don’t need the insurance.”

The elders in your family also didn’t live in a time of current protocols and responses to emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. Not to mention the modern flu vaccine, which saves countless elderly lives each year.

Here’s what I suggest. Give some thought as to how the elders in your family passed away. They may not have ever entered a nursing home, but they may have received weeks or months (or even more) of care in their home.

Then, read all the obituaries in your local paper one day. I’ll bet there are a lot of very old people, most of whom needed long term care before they passed.

“Long term care insurance is just too expensive. I can’t afford it – so there’s no point in even looking!”

Although reporting average premium numbers is almost always a mistake (the quotes we would look at for you will be more or less than the average, which can be frustrating), I can say that most people with whom I meet are surprised to find how affordable a long term care insurance plan can be.

Some people have compared the premium to ‘in the ball park’ of their monthly cable bill, but a lot less expensive than the average car payment. The important thing to keep in mind is that there are a variety of design options that allow almost anyone to find a plan that’s affordable – and meaningful.

My advice? Don’t run back into your burrow until you’ve gotten a customized long term care insurance quote!

Hunkering Down

Posted by on Jan 13, 2015 in Newsletter | 0 comments

Hunkering Down

The winter months are a time of hunkering down. The clock chimes at 5:30 in the evening, and we realize that it’s already dark. Soon enough, spring will wake up the earth, but right now that seems a foreign reality.

When hunkered down, we normally turn inward. It can be difficult to see the big picture, and to imagine a different time with different realities. Where before we saw the big picture, when we’re hunkered down it’s sometimes difficult to see beyond our shoes!

This hunkering down is also a reality of long term care. Families talk about an acute long term care need as if it were a different time and place. As though it didn’t happen in the same family, to the same people, living their lives day-to-day.

The wagons are circled.

One of the saddest aspects of long term care can be when family members hunker down and try to conserve money by not spending it on care services.

Experts in the field report when an elderly couple needs care, it’s usually the husband who needs care first. He wants his wife to be taken care of financially after he’s gone, so he strongly encourages her to not spend a cent on his care that could be conserved. And, unless there’s a change of heart or a skilled intervention on the topic, his wife bears most (if not all) of the caregiving on her shoulders, often ruining her own health in the process.

Imagine that same scenario, but with an important wrinkle: the husband had planned ahead and had a long term care insurance policy. Now, there’s a pile of money to be spent only on his long term care. Gone is reluctance to buy professional care services. After all, it’s always easier to spend an insurance company’s money than your own money.

This is also one of the best traits of long term care insurance: the insurance money spent does not reduce the bank balance of the surviving spouse or the inheritance of the children and grandchildren.

The facts are clear. Long term care insurance provides money to help during one of the most difficult experiences an individual or family will go through. It is not money that comes out of retirement income, savings, and inheritance or a trust. It is a pile of money that is available as a result of paying premiums, and is activated or created when the insured needs long term care.

It’s not an exaggeration to say long term care insurance provides light to people and families at an otherwise dark time.

The Best New Year’s Eve Resolution – Ever

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Newsletter | 0 comments

The Best New Year’s Eve Resolution – Ever

Just in case you are among the majority of human beings who – even if they temporarily stick to New Year’s resolutions – eventually revert to their old behaviors, let me give you a bit of good news. There are some smart strategies that can help us do smart things that are good for ourselves and those we love. Even when it comes to long term care planning.

The Buddy System
When it comes to resolutions and behavior modification, enlisting the help of a buddy can be especially helpful. In the example of sticking to an exercise program, making plans to meet a friend at the gym and work out together 3 times a week can boost your resolve and compliance with your goal.

Since knowing that someone will hold you accountable makes it much easier to accomplish the behavior, use this concept to your advantage in long term care planning. When you call the agent to request a consult, tell them your timeframe for making a decision, and ask their help in pushing you to keep to your deadline. Better yet, ask a sibling or friend to go through the long term care insurance process with you…they probably haven’t done it yet, either!

Reward Yourself
If you know that you are the kind of person who procrastinates to avoid unenjoyable activities (such as long term care planning), set yourself a reward for finally crossing it off your to-do list. Imagine how great you’ll feel when your next birthday comes around and you haven’t procrastinated into a higher premium because of inaction!

Too Busy to Plan?
I sometimes imagine all of us who are so busy now – in 30, 40 or even 50 years. I’m calling this the ‘old me (or you).’ If our health has failed, we will, in a sense, have nothing but time on our hands. No more rushing to work or juggling the needs of children and parents – all that will be in our past.

What will the ‘old you’ wish that the ‘young you’ (read – NOW) had done? I’m guessing looking into – and probably purchasing – long term care insurance would be on the ‘old you’ wish list.

If Only My Parents Had…
Those of us who are faced with a parent(s) in long term care crisis or who has a chronic need for care can’t be faulted for thinking: “I wish my parent(s) had purchased a long term care insurance policy when they were younger and insurable.”

As we step up into the role of caregiver, whether hands-on or managing from afar, we might even think: “I’ll never put my kids through what I’ve gone through.”

In fact, we can’t help but focus on our parents when it comes to the topic of long term care planning. However, in most cases, their opportunity to plan was in the past. Unless they are still relatively healthy, relatively young (under age 75, generally), with comfortable assets and/or strong cash flow (coverage bought at older ages can be expensive), their long term care insurance horse has already left the barn.

Which brings me to you.

Start this year off right with a resolution that will finally put to bed one of the most important financial questions you will have for the rest of your life:

How will you (yes, you!) pay for long term care should it be needed?

Hope you are having a great holiday season, and wishing you a Happy New Year!