Frankly, my dear, you should consider long-term care insurance

When creating an estate plan, you should consider the risk of someday losing control over your physical or mental faculties.  Advances in medical science mean that many people are living longer.  However, with that extended life span comes the real possibility that your mental and physical conditions will weaken and you will need additional support.

The challenge for all of us is to avoid the Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about that tomorrow” approach, and to plan for those risks now, while we are physically and mentally strong and our planning can be clear-headed, strategic and efficient.

Here are seven good reasons to consider investing in long-term care (LTC) insurance now.

1.  Protect yourself – It is up to you to consider what might happen to you in the future and to make decisions now about future care.  This is not easy.  It is normal to be in denial about that possibility and to focus on today instead.  How do you predict how much or how long care will be needed or even what that best care will be?  Since the cost is not predictable, investing in a long-term care policy offers a safety net of sorts.  If you need the care, the insurance will at most cover the risk and at worst cushion the blow.

2.  Maintain your independence – As an independent thinker, you would want to control you own destiny and make decisions about the future.  By creating and implementing a safety net, you do not have to rely on someone else to make those choices for you.  To maintain your independence, you need the financial ability to support your choices, and must put in place the legal documents that will ensure that the choices are honored and respected.

3.  To preserve your dignity – Many problems begin when aging parents’ status is threatened by failing powers.  They suddenly need assistance with the activities of daily living – cleaning, bathing, eating, and dressing – whom do they want to assist them?  Many  parents do not want their children in that role.  But without a comprehensive care system in place and insufficient funds to have outsiders provide that care, those awkward tasks frequently fall to family members. An investment in a long-term care policy helps pay for a custodial caregiver and helps maintain dignity.

4.  Create a plan now so that it will be ready when needed – Investing now in a long-term care policy makes it easier for loved ones to have that difficult, but vital, conversation about care.   With a policy in place, care will be available when needed, without a family struggle to first figure out what to do and then find and implement an appropriate caregiving plan.

5.  Protect the health of family caregivers – While loved ones focus on elderly parents in declining health, the burden of taking care of that parent inevitably fall to one or two individuals.  If the primary caregiver is the spouse, he or she may not have the physical, mental or emotional energy to take on the demands of that role.

6.  Expanded care options – It is inherently difficult to determine what type of care might be required or how much it will cost.  With limited financial resources and no LTC policy in place, the available care options are likewise limited.  Those options might include the goodwill of family members and governmental social services.  With ample financial resources to invest in a LTC policy, there are alternative options, including aides’ social workers’ visits, assisted-living facilities, quality nursing homes, Alzheimer’s units, and geriatric care managers.

7.  Protecting your financial position – You have worked hard to build your net worth and cash flow.  Along the way, there have been unavoidable setbacks, such as recession, inflation, emergencies, etc.  While proper planning cannot solve all of those issues, it can hedge against the risk and cushion the blow if LTC assistance is needed.  Exploring the purchase of LTC insurance in an important economic exercise.

The issues we face as we live longer are more complicated than those faced by prior generations.  Protecting ourselves, our assets, our income, our family and our loved ones becomes more difficult each day.   You should give serious consideration to Long-term Care Insurance.