Your Insurance Matters: Every family needs to know

Your Insurance Matters
Every family needs to know
by Shirley R. Lamdan, CLU, Hagerstown, MD

Every family needs to know what long-term care can mean for family members as well as for its finances. But the impact of the long-term care event is not just in dollars.
The numbers are scary and most people don't really want to think about them. The Wall Street Journal reports that almost 70% of all seniors will need long-term care in one form or another.
In Maryland, an assisted living facility (private, one bedroom) costs about $38,000 a year. Adult day health care is about $19,000 annually. Home health care or homemaker services for substantial care can run from $43,500 to over $45,000.
In Maryland, a semi-private room in a nursing home runs about $80,000 a year.
If someone does need a nursing home or assisted living facility, the average stay can be about 2 to 2.5 years. Without long-term care coverage, the expense is staggering.
Of course, most seniors won't need all this care. Over time, though, their care needs will gradually increase. They may start to need help with one or more activities, like bathing. And family can often help with that.
But long-term care can be a woman's issue. Women live longer than men and often have cared for their husbands. Many women may also outlive other family members. This could leave them without any living family who can help when they need care.
This is where a long-term care insurance plan would serve a vital need.
Since families will often be involved in paying for care and the actual care-giving, families need to plan. Family members need to talk to each other about their long-term care goals and preferences.
To protect their finances and emotional health, families should begin the conversation about long-term care planning. A helpful website is www.caringtalk.com.
While long-term care costs are usually measured in terms of money, the long-term care event touches the family in other important ways as well.
Without long term care insurance, the extended family may sacrifice retirement contributions or college savings to help pay for the loved one's care.
Family members caring for a loved one may be absent more often from work, may lose a job, or miss out on career opportunities. Couples in the "Sandwich Generation" experience really intense pressure. They may be caring for their aging parents while they support their own children.
Family relationships may suffer from the stress of long-term care events. Resentments may fester about who is doing more or paying more. Increased stress with spouses, siblings, and children may result from a family's long-term care event. The expenses and stress of care-giving can reduce time spent with children.
An April 2010 study of 800 consumers who received care or whose family member received care is called "Beyond Dollars". It documents the costs and the family sacrifices of the long-term care event. It's available at www.caringtalk.com.
Talk to your independent insurance professional about long-term care coverage.

Since 1982, Shirley R. Lamdan, CLU of Hagerstown, MD has been serving individuals, corporations, and nonprofits with independent retirement and insurance services. She can be contacted at 301-791-9427 and slamdan@lamdanselect.com.