As I sat down thinking about what topic to cover this post the answer came to me by way of a marketing piece from Mutual of Omaha. Though not as popular as some of the other Hallmark induced holidays nor did my iPhone show it in my calendar, but November is Long-Term Care Awareness month. I read some of the facts from that marketing piece and it made me think what better way to show the glaring need for a long-term care plan than with some sobering statistics. Now don’t become alarmed or zone out thinking here he goes again, droning on about Long-term care insurance. Nothing could be further from the point of this piece. Yes, I absolutely am convinced that long-term care insurance can be part of an overarching plan for what if I become long-term care eligible, but it does not have to be the only piece. Maybe your plan will be to totally or partially insure the risk through your assets and while not what I would suggest, it is a plan. In absence of a plan then your plan becomes to spend your retirement assets to pay for your or your loved one’s care.
So here are some questions that hopefully will spark some thought on the serious need for a long-term care plan should you or your family ever need one.
- What percent of Care is at-home care? A) 50%, B) 66%, C)74% or D) 82%. The answer is C. 74% of all claims are for at home care, which should come as no surprise since most people want the care to be at home.
- What is the longest claim currently? A) 10 years, B) 18 years, C0 22.5 years or D) 26.25 years. The answer is once again C. The longest claim currently on file is for 22.5 years and while certainly not the norm might give you an idea on the potential devastation that a long-term care event could have on you and your family’s finances if not properly planned for.
- What is the amount of the largest claim paid to date? A) $,1,250,000, B) $1,600,000, $1,875,000 or D) $2,100,000. The answer to this one is D. While the answer to question 2 was disconcerting, the answer to question 3 should make you very uncomfortable if you do not have a plan on how you will pay for a long-term care event should the need arise.
- What percent of claims last longer than five years? A) 10%, B) 13% c) 18% or D) 25%. The answer to this is question is C. With almost 20% of claims lasting five years and the average cost of care in Northern Virginia approach $10,000 per month that duration is troubling to say the least.
- Which of these are not a reason why most people need care? A) Dementia, B) Cancer, C) Heart Disease or D) Arthritis. The answer is B. The most troubling portion of this question as I see it, is the cognitive impairment issue. While medical technology can keep me physically alive, but my mental state has deteriorated then I could be long- term care eligible for a considerable amount of time.
- What percent of long-term care people had to have families pay for the cost of home care services? A) 45%, B) 51%, C) 56% or D)61%. The answer is D. My guess is that the plan for paying for long term care events were probably not part of the family member’s plan when asked to contribute to paying these expenses because of improper planning by their family member.
- What percent of caregivers had to miss time from work to take care of a family member? A)75%, B) 66%, C) 60% or D) 55%. The answer is A. The fact that 75% of caregivers had to take time away from their livelihood to take care of family member who probably didn’t plan properly does not seem fair to me.
Here are some other random statistics about long-term claims:
- 60% of caregivers had to cut back on luxury expenses
- 41% of caregivers had depression
- 40% of caregivers felt it negatively impacted their relationship with their spouse
- 63% of caregivers help pay for care with money from their retirement fund
- 42% of caregivers had to stop contributing to savings
- The average age of a claimant is 79 with 69% of all claimants being women.
Whatever your plan is for a possible long-term care event for you or your spouse, I can not urge you strongly enough to discuss the plan with your family. With the statistics surrounding caregiving and its impact I think it would be prudent to have this conversation with your loved ones because your plan may not coincide with theirs and I think that would be good to know prior to the event as opposed to “figuring it out.” I can personally attest to many of the statistics as related to being the primary caregiver and its impact. I was the caregiver/caretaker for my parents in their later years. Had I known that this was their plan and how it may impact me, I might have to tried to be more proactive than I was, but alas you live and learn.
With November being long-term care awareness month, I implore you to please have this difficult conversation with your entire family about what a long-term care event may look like for you and how you plan to handle this situation. In the end, I personally feel that you can not give your family any greater gift than having a plan that was thoughtfully considered and agreed to by all participants as opposed to trying to take care of things in the middle of the event.