I miss taking care of my Dad. He was in pretty bad shape for quite a while toward the end and required lots of care. It was at this time of his life that he said one of the most memorable and flattering things he ever said to me. With all of the anguish and frustration and physical pain he endured, he told me that he felt safe when I was around. It’s been over a year since he passed away, and that recollection came to mind for the first time as I sat at a park reading and was distracted by the observation of a son, my age, taking a walk with his elderly, blind father. I noticed that he wasn’t being very nice to the old guy, and it bothered me that he spoke to his father in such a condescending and irritated tone of voice. Doesn’t he realize how lucky he is that his father is still ambulatory, still lucid, still here?
The truth is, I don’t know the whole story—the extent of his illness, the dynamics of their relationship, etc. What I do know from my personal and professional experience is that caregiving responsibilities are sometimes thrust upon us whether we like it or not. I also know that everyone reacts differently to the stress associated with the caregiving experience. Both the caregiver and recipient have moments of intolerance, patience, pride, embarrassment, courage, helplessness, anger, guilt, strength and weakness—and sometimes all at the same time. What an incredible emotional roller coaster. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could eliminate most of the negative emotions, so we could just focus on whatever rewarding and positive moments we can share with our loved one at this juncture of his or her life? There is a way.
Proper long-term care planning a can help to avoid crisis management and instead encourage a loving caregiving environment. It’s probably too late for those already involved in the crisis management scenario, but I’ve found that once someone has had the experience of being a caregiver, they loathe to burden their loved ones with their own possible future needs.
That’s why long-term care insurance is the best solution to this very real problem. Proper planning can not only protect your nest egg and relieve your family of possible financial ruin, but is essential to the emotional and physical well-being of a family. That’s because the new generation of policies usually include the services of a care coordinator, who will come to the home, assess the situation, and offer to design and implement a plan of care. This assistance, along with the actual hands-on custodial, intermediate, and skilled nursing people afford people the privilege of appreciating and enjoying their loved ones for who they are, without worrying about the physical aspects involved in caregiving or any negative emotions arising from the ordeal.
Now is the best time to consider long-term care insurance. Premiums will never be as inexpensive for you as they are now, and there are no guarantees that your health won’t prevent you from being insurable in the future. My father wasn’t healthy enough to qualify for a policy and it was a tough ride, even though it was our pleasure to try and make him as comfortable as possible. The truth of the matter is, I always felt safe when he was around.
Arthur Cohen, a 25-year veteran of the insurance industry, is president of Arthur Cohen Insurance Associates, Inc. located in Miami, Florida. He has lectured nationally, written articles, and conducted workshops on the subject of long-term care planning, and is considered a leading authority. Send your comments to email@example.com.