Long Term Care Insurance – A Personal Story

Perhaps the best way to communicate about the importance of Long Term Care insurance is to share a personal story – my story. The story about the decline and ultimate death of my own father.

It’s hard to talk about something so private in such a context, but that’s the point—LTC insurance comes into play when such heightened, emotional decisions are needed, when life and death and saying goodbye to our loved ones are necessary.

Dad started to show signs of memory loss in his mid-sixties, but he wasn’t diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until his early seventies. As with most Americans in need of care, he was looked after at home for as long as possible, with my mom taking the primary role in answering his daily needs. About a year prior to his death (at age 77), he began showing symptoms of Stage 3 Alzheimer’s, and we knew it was time to start looking into an assisted care facility. The need was not yet acute, but we reserved a spot for him at a nearby facility, believing that we had planned and prepared for the future.

Unfortunately, while still being cared for at home, his cognitive state began to decline rapidly. In the months prior to his 78th birthday, he went from significant mental impairment to being completely unable to care for himself. He was admitted to the hospital, and kept under care of his doctors for six weeks as we wrestled with decisions on how to care for him moving forward. The drugs he was put on were considered the final course of treatment, but no one could predict how long that treatment would last.

We came to the frightening realization that he was past the point of assisted living, and now in need of round the clock, expensive nursing home care. While he was in the hospital, we searched for a bed for him to transition into—struggling with the knowledge that he would never be able to come home again, and that the possibility of years in a nursing home could be financially devastating for my mom.

My parents were dedicated savers and financially comfortable, but they were by no means wealthy. A full-time nursing home with a memory unit was twice the cost of the assisted living facility we had in mind. Our first choice nursing home was $14,000 a month, and we were told some Stage 3 Alzheimer’s patients held on for years. Instead we settled on a nursing home that, while highly recommended, was an older facility and further away, which cost a somewhat more affordable $8,500 a month.

In this time of great emotional loss for our family, Mom was also forced to face the prospective loss of financial security. It’s not what we wanted to be thinking about while saying goodbye to an amazing father and husband. In the end, Dad only lasted two weeks in the nursing home before the Alzheimer’s took over completely and he passed away, and there was a sense of relief that mingled with our sadness. We, and he, were some of the lucky ones—he finally at peace, and my mother’s financial future not jeopardized by his passing.

If my parents had had Long Term Care Insurance, the choice of where to get care and how long he might live would not have been a concern. He would have simply transitioned into the nursing home of our choice and lived out his remaining days in relative comfort as we shared hours together and said our goodbyes. I had always thought that the needs for care in later life were covered by health insurance and Medicare—I was wrong.

The possibility for LTC is as much a financial planning issue as it is one of emotions and comfort. It is one of the reasons why I’m proud to do the work I do today, helping my clients make the best, most informed decisions they can to mitigate against the damage one unforeseen illness or accident can do to an entire family’s financial future.

Learn more about the importance of a Long-Term Care Insurance here or get in touch with me.

Nancy MacDonald

Director of Executive Benefits Design & Administration,

Vice President, Sapers & Wallack


LTC Considerations:

Policy benefits may be reduced by any policy loans, withdrawals, terminal illness benefit, or long-term care benefits paid under the policy. Death Proceeds and Return of Premium Benefit will be reduced when long-term care benefits are taken. Values assume no prior distributions of any kind taken. Certain benefits may not be available until a specific age is attained. An elimination period may apply before long-term care benefits are available. See your policy for details.
The monthly amount reimbursed is the cost of covered long-term care expenses actually incurred, which may be less than the Monthly Maximum Benefit. The Monthly Maximum Benefit may be pro-rated based on the actual number of days that the insured is chronically ill or confined to a facility. Long-term care insurance benefits may be subject to limitations, waiting periods, and other restrictions.