National Family Caregiver Month
Actually, that was in the month of November. We couldn’t quite squeeze it into the Life Planning 101 podcast schedule, but that doesn’t mean it is any less important. We have a pandemic in this nation and for once, I am not talking about COVID. This Pandemic is the escalating need for long-term healthcare and how ill prepared families are for it.
Believe it or not, the oldest of the 76 million baby boomers will turn 80 in 2025! This massive baby boom generation, coupled with the advancements in medicine that has increased life expectancy, are the main contributors to this crisis. You may live longer, but you may live with less quality of life. I just read an article discussing this topic. The author, Mr. Osterland, stated, The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that about 55% of Americans will have low to moderate LTC needs and 25% will have “the type of severe needs that most people dread.”1.
25% translates to 1 in 4 people. Not a statistic to ignore.
But the point is not whether or not this type of future is going to be your future. The point is: Is your family prepared for it?
No family is ever really prepared, but any preparation is better than none.
Let me tell you a story about a family we worked with. They seemed to have everything planned for an event like this—they had long-term health care policies, and they were good ones. They had all of their legal documents in order, their bookkeeping and finances in order, and even a team of advisors to help. They were prepared. Until both of them were diagnosed with chronic health issues that led to dementia. They continued to stay in their home and their children continued to lead their own lives. Until…
As is not uncommon, one of them started down the path of becoming a danger to both of them and everyone around them. It was time to make some tough decisions about moving out of their home of more than 40 years. The spouse that was still capable to make these decisions could not or would not. The children also would not. Then it became too late.
The healthier of the two passed away unexpectedly. And in the midst of all of this they tragically lost another close family member. Yet no one would make decisions regarding the surviving spouse. The family was in strife and grief took its toll through anger, harsh words, and the overall lack of understanding and grace. The good Christmases and Thanksgivings this patriarch and matriarch worked so hard to protect was at risk.
I tell you this story as a warning and hopefully a motivator. It certainly was one for us. Because of this story, we have commenced a new service to the families we work with. When Dad and Mom are still healthy, cognitively well and most of all, unemotional, we work through the different scenarios that could take place and make these tough decisions before they are ever a reality.
One example is: what happens if one of you becomes a danger to themselves or both of you? We look for answers around the type of caregiving, the location for one or both of them, who will be involved from a physical aspect or decision-making aspect, what funds are to be used in what order and anything else that could be relevant.
We use this as a blueprint to help Dad and Mom draft a letter to family that will be reviewed at the next family planning meeting and keep on file for a day that hopefully never arrives.
So many of us have the attitude that whatever will be will be. That thought process contributes directly to whether or not you will become a statistic. You are not going through this unpleasant planning primarily for yourself. You are doing it because you love your family.
This is the season of giving. What better gift is there than saying, I love you? The thought, care and time you spend in an effort to minimize future turmoil for your loved ones, may be one of your biggest “I Love You” statement yet. Let us help you help your family to continue your legacy of living Life on purpose!