Recently, I took a road trip to Bullhead City, Arizona, to deliver my mom's car to her as she begins her annual snowbirding.
It takes 28 hours to do the whole drive. Naturally, it's a lot of time to think.
Driving through the scenic routes of Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona, I began to do what everyone does: I daydreamed.
I daydreamed about my friends - the friends that I've made in the past, the friendships that I'm currently building today, and the friends that I've yet to meet.
I daydreamed about my career - the immense growth that I've achieved, and the lessons still to be learned.
I daydreamed about my family, and everything we've been through - how, despite all of our foibles, we've always been there for each other, and always will be.
(Okay, I admit it. I daydream a LOT).
But, in my brain, daydreaming isn't unproductive or lazy. In fact, I like to call it something else - planning.
I like to think that I daydream because I'm planning about how I'll handle situations when they come up. That my brain is flexing its muscles so that it's ready when I need it. So, when I'm daydreaming about crazy situations that probably won't ever happen, I'm really making sure that - if they do happen - I'm ready.
Which is why we need to have a conversation about long-term care.
Time after time, I've spoken to friends and clients who are confused by long-term care.
What is it? Do I need it? Will I actually use it? Isn't it expensive?
I get it - long-term care isn't the sexiest or simplest concept. It may seem like something that may be uncomfortable to think about, let alone plan for.
However, we've all been in situations where sudden illnesses or accidents have forced our friends and loved ones to resort to an incredibly expensive patchwork of solutions that caused unnecessary strain and hardship on finances.
The fact is, long-term care works like most other insurance: you must buy it before you need it.
The first step to reducing fear is to increase understanding.
Let me try to help:
What is it?
Long term care includes all care (medical and non-medical) that meets health and personal needs. It's care that helps people with their daily activities when they are unable to do them for themselves.
When do people need it?
People need long-term care when:
- They're seriously injured or have a disability (temporary or permanent);
- They become weak or frail as a result of old age;
- They develop a cognitive impairment that causes memory loss or confusion;
- They have a chronic condition that limits their daily activities.
Will I need it?
70% of people over 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. But, that doesn't mean it's not applicable when you're younger - 40% of all long-term care is provided to people under 65.
Aren't I already covered?
Sadly, probably not.
- Health insurance plans and Medicare do not pay for extended long-term care needs.
- Most disability insurance does not cover long-term care situations. Disability insurance only acts as a partial income replacement, not as a payment for care. Disability benefits also generally end when you reach age 65.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to scare you. I'm trying to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family.
All I want you to do is two things:
- Have a conversation with your family and loved ones about what your options would be should something happen. Similar to an emergency plan, make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Make sure you have a smart plan about how you'll be able to afford long-term care, if it happens. Whether it's an HSA, life insurance, or even leveraging your home equity, make sure you know what your options are.
Okay, maybe driving through Missouri isn't very scenic. But it's worth it when you arrive here:
PS - all of the information today came from an excellent website from Minnesota's Department of Human Services. If you're not in Minnesota, I encourage you to check with whatever resources that may be available in your state!