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Insurance: The Real Reason For Long -Term Care Insurance

Aug 17, 2007
My mother-in-law recently passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Throughout her battle, our family had to deal with many emotional and legal issues. Over the next couple weeks, I'll be discussing these in more detail in the hope that you and your loved ones will be prepared for life's difficulties.

The physical impact of caring for a sick loved one is enormous. Everyday tasks that we often take for granted, such as eating, bathing, or going to the bathroom become major chores. As my family found out, trying to provide all of the care within the family quickly became unmanageable. The additional duties significantly impacted all the relatives involved physically, financially and emotionally.

For many, the cost of insurance that provides help with long-term care seems prohibitive. But the cost of not having it are far greater. You can't underestimate the emotional impact a long-term illness will have on a family. It is like a heavy, dark cloud that can't be lifted. The assistance paid for by a long-term care insurance policy provides the family the ability to deal with the emotional issues instead of focusing on meeting the physical needs.

Without long-term care insurance, caregivers are on call 24/7. There are no days off, no 'punching-out' of the time clock for a quick break. Those caring for loved ones suffer from sleep deprivation and high stress levels. Healthy habits such as regular exercise, balanced diet and regular sleep go out the window.

Studies have shown that long-term caregivers have a shorter life span and increased health problems than their same-age counterparts. My own father-in-law had only a few hours of sleep each day for weeks. We soon became concerned for his health.

For some families, it's even worse. Weeks drag on into months and months into years if their loved ones suffer from illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer's. In my mother-in-law's case, she was able to remain fairly independent until the last six weeks. But others dying from cancer have needed intense care for six months or more.

Of course we feel pain, grief and fear when someone we love is ill. But caregivers focus so much on the needs of their loved ones that their own needs go unmet. They feel guilty expressing their own problems when their loved one is suffering so much. The physical exhaustion makes dealing with their emotions even more difficult.

It's hard to be objective when your world is turned upside down. And to whom do they turn? They can't easily tell the one they're caring for how they feel. Caregivers often stuff their own needs and go into 'survival mode', just trying to get through one day or one hour at a time.

Compounding all of these difficulties is the financial impact of long term care. In our case, my father-in-law is a pastor of a small church and they were very understanding, giving him the freedom to care for his wife without costing him his job. But what if he was working a regular 9 to 5 job? Sick days only last so long. If other family members aren't able to pick up the slack, who will?

Few can afford professional nursing care at $25 an hour for an extended period of time. The cost of custodial care is not covered by most health insurance plans or Medicare. And Hospice only takes over when a terminally ill patient no longer seeks treatment.

If you've never considered long term care insurance, please think again. I now understand that long-term care insurance is as much for the family as for the patient. The unfortunate truth is that many of you reading this article will find yourself on either the giving or receiving end of long term care. Having long term care insurance will go a long way in reducing the inevitable suffering that long term illness brings, both for the caregivers and the patient.

Selecting the proper long-term care policy isn't always easy. Consult with a reputable advisor and get quotes from several different companies.
About the Author
Nationally-syndicated financial columnist and Certified Financial Planner Jeffrey Voudrie provides personal, in-depth money management services and advice to select private clients throughout the USA. He will answer your financial question FREE at http://www.guardingyourwealth.net/
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