How Much Is Your Dignity Worth? Long-Term Care

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Image source: http://www.geniehomeservicesinc.ca/

BY: ANDREW STEWART 

Getting Old! I don’t know about you, but the chirpy tales about ageing, you know, the ones that tell us that age is just a state of mind, that “30 is the new 20” and “60 is the new 40” and “80 the new 60” is getting out of hand. Sure, aging is different than it was a generation or two ago and there are more possibilities now than ever before. Age brings intelligence, experience, wisdom, and beauty. So why are we so scared of it?

One very real reason is the possible deterioration of our health. I vividly recall, on one occasion, when a client of mine was talking about having to admit her husband into a Long-Term Care home for Alzheimer’s disease care. I had to ask the question, “How do you plan to pay for your husband’s care?” Her response was, “Oh, I’m not too sure. I think the government will be paying the bill.” When I heard that answer, I knew I had to explain to her that government does not pay for custodial care. To this day, I remember the look on her face when she realized what I was saying – that she would be responsible for the cost of her husband’s care. She sat there for a moment without saying anything. I could see that she was in turmoil. With a look of horror on her face, she told me, “What funds we have are tied up. I will need to mortgage our house to pay his nursing home bill.  As I sat there watching her anxiety, I thought to myself this is the exact reason why long-term care insurance should be a part of everyone’s protection strategy.

What is long-term care insurance? It provides an income-style benefit if you become unable to care for yourself due to aging, an accident, illness or deteriorated mental abilities. The money is for you and your family to use as you wish. There is a mistaken impression that government programs will cover people’s long-term-care costs. A lot of people are unaware that they have this potential liability exposure ahead of them.

It’s easy to take our ability to perform day-to-day activities for granted. These abilities can change quickly, especially as we age. The cost of long-term care should be an important consideration in anyone’s retirement planning. Planning for the last fifteen years of life is difficult for most to adjust to. On average Canadians are living longer, existing conditions could become more difficult to manage and new ones could emerge. The question is what type of care will you want? Most of us will enter retirement with a pretty good understanding of our current health and what it takes to manage it. But, as time goes on, everyone’s health changes; we gradually begin to spend more on our medical, physical and personal care needs. At the same time, we would like to stay home with family and friends as long as possible and opt for private home care if we can. 

You should consider long-term care insurance coverage if:

  • To avoid being a burden. None of us want our future health-care needs to create a physical or emotional strain on family members
  • To protect family finances. Many fail to plan for long-term care costs or hope family members will help when the need arises
  • To obtain peace of mind

Long-term care insurance can help you:

  • Bring care into your home so that you do not need to downsize or move to a facility right away
  • Lessen the burden on caregivers by supporting your family financially if you are going to live with them if you need care
  • Manage your care and expenses if you have an unexpected severe accident, at any age, that results in your needing substantial assistance from a family member or caregiver

Whatever the case, the funding is your responsibility.

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