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Simplifying the process of understanding Long Term Care, and helping you decide if Long Term Care insurance is right for you.

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LTC Staff
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on Sunday, 04 March 2012
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Long Term Care: For Your Family, Not For You!

When discussing Long Term Care insurance with adults, it is not unusual to hear comments like, “I doubt I will ever be in nursing home,” or “no one in my family has ever needed Long Term Care,” or even “if I ever come to that point, I will have someone in my family shoot me.” The variations on this theme are numerous, but the underlying message is clear. Few of us believe that bad things will happen to us; bad things only happen to the other guy. Human nature powerfully insulates us from seriously contemplating the reality that most of us will eventually become frail and unable to care for ourselves independently. Or that we might have a stroke, a disastrous accident, or be diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating disease. Statistical risk data seems to become irrelevant when it comes to our personal future.


By the same token, most of us do tend to care about the consequences that these unlikely events would have on our loved ones if they ever did occur. This explains why most of us purchase term life insurance during our working years even though the statistical likelihood of filing a claim due to early death during this time period (the risk), is somewhere around 2 percent. Even if death occurs and a claim is filed, the insured will obviously never spend a penny of the death benefit. Nonetheless, we are concerned about the impact our death will have on surviving family members: the consequences.

This same reasoning explains the fact that people keep fire insurance on their homes even after the mortgage is paid off and the bank no longer requires coverage. The statistical likelihood of the house burning down is quite remote, one in a thousand or less. Yet we wouldn’t go a day without coverage even though many middle and upper income families might even be able to pay to rebuild their homes from savings or refinancing. Few of us ever think the worst will happen, but we still wish to avoid the consequences, no matter how unlikely. So, once again, we transfer the risk and insure.

Here’s is the irony about Long Term Care. Unlike dying while young or having a major house fire, the odds of eventually having Long Term Care needs are quite high. Studies project that about 70 percent of all those living past the age of 65 will eventually need Long Term Care assistance before they die; if for no other reason that the infirmities associated with aging. Yet this data about risk are often ignored. Unfortunately, so are the painful consequences on loved ones. The role of Long Term Care insurance has less to do with you and your needs than you might think. Someone will probably find a way to take care of you when you need custodial assistance. But at a physical, emotional and financial cost on the people caring for you could be devastating.

Thus, the real reason to consider Long Term Care insurance is to recognize the serious burden caring for you will place on your spouse, your children and other loved ones. Besides the significant financial hardship associated with Long Term Care, which often depletes retirement savings, family caregivers report high levels of depression, drug and alcohol use, time away from work and friends, and overall deterioration of their physical well-being. When asked whether people should consider purchasing Long Term Care insurance, nationally-known financial advisor Jane Bryant Quinn reminds us of these consequences. “To anyone who has seen up close how much it costs to care for an failing relative or friend, the answer is 'yes, for sure'”. (Newsweek, June 18, 2007)

If risk data about Long Term Care is difficult to confront, focus on the consequences that your Long Term Care needs will have on your family. Consider the “what if,” rather than “whether or not” and plan accordingly. It is a demonstration of love for your family. They will thank you for it.

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