When Parents Fail to Plan

When Parents Fail to Plan

What happens when the parent of an employee needs long term care…and no provisions have been made?  There are a lot of possible answers to this question, and many of them aren’t easy. 

The answers are often dependent on a critical factor: has the parent done any planning?  Do they know where they want to receive care?  Do they have the money – or insurance – to pay for the care?

None other than Benjamin Franklin said it well: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

What does failure mean – when the topic is long term care?  It might be easier to answer this question first: what is success when the topic is long term care?

Long term care success might be defined as:

When the person needing care lives a high quality of life in the setting of his or her choice;

When the employed adult child can continue working full-time in his or her livelihood – without worrying that a parent has inadequate care;

When the adult child can spend his or her time visiting the parent – instead of providing the time-consuming and exhausting work of primary caregiving;

When financial plans have been made so that the care decision can be made without undue financial stress on children or other family members.  For example, funds are available without having to quickly liquidate items such as a home – at fire sale prices.

Failure could mean:

When family members substantially disrupt their work lives or children or spouses to attend to extended care needs (primary caregiving is largely incompatible with full-time work).

When the person’s choice of senior residential community such as a Continuing Care Retirement Center (CCRC) or an assisted living facility is private pay only – and the person doesn’t have enough money.  This problem can also arise relative to home-based care.  Care in these settings is rarely covered by Medicaid, the government program designed to pay long term care for the financially vulnerable.

Actionable recommendations:

                Encourage employees to financially plan for long term care.  In most cases, the best course of action is to purchase long term care insurance.

                Encourage employees to talk with family members about the ‘what if’ of long term care…well before the situation arises.  It’s much easier to discuss these topics when the need for care is not imminent.