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Why Long Term Care is Important

A story from one of our agents.

I spent a recent weekend returning to my hometown of Charlotte, NC to participate in a fundraiser walk for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. My friend Russell from high school is in his fifth year of the diagnosis. He has won the “Most Team Members” award from the walk organizers for several years—especially in 2012 as we planned our school reunion for the weekend of the walk in show of support to him.

One of the most notable things about the weekend was a conversation I had with Russell’s wife Katie. Since Russell has been dealing with the disease for a long period—even having outlived the prognosis of 2–5 years—I had concerns about the cost of care and how the family was handling this, especially with kids in college. But what Katie said to me really made an impact, not only personally but professionally, since I work to offer life and health benefits each day. For she told me that a few small decisions they made years ago have since made it possible to afford the costs of care for Russell. One of the most important was to purchase long term care insurance. As a result, they had even been able to afford a renovation on the house to accommodate Russell.    

It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have ALS at any given time. Russell, and the thousands of people like him, comprises just one example of how having long term care insurance can make an impact in the lives of their family. Individuals who require long-term care are often not sick in the traditional sense but instead are unable to perform the basic activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, eating, transferring (getting in and out of a bed or chair) and walking. Age is not a determining factor in needing long-term care. Russell will turn only 50 next year, and about 40% of those receiving long-term care today are between 18 and 64. Approximately 60 % of the individuals over the age 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.

The time to consider long term care insurance is now. Once a change in health occurs, it may not be available to you. This insurance protects your assets while it provides care in the home, assisted living facility or nursing home, depending on the type of policy purchased. Russell’s family did not anticipate his illness but those small decisions Katie explained to me have made the difference in the family’s future and outlook. Long Term Care insurance should be considered as part of a plan to provide the means to pay for the necessary care of a loved one.

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