OK, So What Is Long-Term Care Anyway?
Long-Term Care is a very misunderstood product that almost always needs some
sort of clarification. When most people think of the term, “Long-Term Care”,
they will often envision an elderly man or women in a nursing home needing
assistance having continence issues, or having the inability to get out of a
chair and transfer to bed, or something similar. While these are accurate
depictions “at times” of what a Long-Term Care situation might entail, they are
by far, not the most common.
80% of all claims for LTC take place at home, which is where people want to
be if ever an extended care situation was to take place. So we can get the image
of a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) out of our minds as most care will start and
stay at home. Another image we sometimes fail to look at is the image of a
person at home for many years suffering memory loss issues. Alzheimer’s
or other forms of Dementia are on the rise and can affect people that are
young, middle aged, or older, not just the elderly.
So what is Long-Term Care? Is it a nursing home? No. Is it Alzheimer’s or
Parkinson’s? No. Is it a stroke or the inability to handle life’s activities?
No. Then what is it? It’s not a condition; it’s a life-changing event that’s
caused by a physical and or cognitive impairment. By definition, these illnesses
would so compromise you that your family or friends would have no choice but to
side aside their own lives to provide care. The goal of having a plan of care in
place is to try and keep the frail person at home as much as possible without
creating emotional, physical, and financial consequences for themselves or
others around them. The key, I believe, is to have a plan where family and
friends can “supervise” the care that is provided, and not have to actually try
to “perform” the care that is required. Friends and family (informal caregivers)
can often become just as ill as the person they are trying to take care of. For
example, some 22% of informal caregivers to the elderly are depressed—around
twice the rate in the population as a whole. 55% of caregivers living with
dementia patients suffer clinical depression.
In addition, the stress often involved in taking care of someone who is
chronically ill can be devastating. Someone not having a plan of care in place,
but to say that their spouse will take care of them does not know what they are
really saying. Elderly informal caregivers run a 63% higher risk of dying from
stress-related illnesses. Statistics on the
issue of informal care giving are virtually endless. Informal caregivers who
responded that their health has gotten worse as a result of caregiving most
commonly report a loss of energy and sleep (87%), stress or panic attacks (70%),
aches or pain (60%), depression (52%), headaches (41%) and weight gain or loss
(38%). In addition, they tend to spend less time with family or friends (69%)
and at work (37%).
I was once at a couple’s home assisting them with the implementation of an
extended care plan but all the 6’2” 230 lb husband kept saying was, “My wife
will take care of me.” So I asked him to get up from the table and lay flat on
the floor. He said, WHAT!? I said, just do it, I want to show you something. So
he laid there flat on the floor and asked his 5’3” 120 lb wife to go over there
and lift him off the floor without any help from him and put him back in the
chair. Surprisingly enough she actually tried and said, “This is ridiculous, I
can’t pick him up!” EXACTLY, I said. So tell me something John, how is Margaret
supposed to take care of you if you become frail? Wouldn’t it be more loving on
your part to allow her to supervise the care rather than try and do perform the
care and become just as ill as you trying to do so? They moved forward with the
plan… and so should you if a qualified advisor is recommending you to do look
into it for the sake of your family.
About the author: Kyle McDonald holds FIC, FICF, FSCP® & CLTC designations. His viewpoint on life insurance is simple, “Anyone with a family must have life insurance. In the end, life insurance is for others you care about, not you.” He is ready to help you and your family get the best option available. Contact Kyle today at 1-800-651-1953 or KMcDonald@Pivot.com.
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Family Caregivers of Persons with Dementia, Richard Schulz, Ph.D., Aaron B.
Mendelsohn, Ph.D., William E. Haley, Ph.D., Diane Mahoney, Ph.D., Rebecca S.
Allen, Ph.D., Song Zhang, M.S., Larry Thompson, Ph.D., and Steven H. Belle,
Ph.D., for the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH)
Investigators, November 13, 2003
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Hirsch, S. Jackson, L. Burton, “Involvement in Caregiving and Adjustment to
Death of a Spouse: Findings From the Caregiver Health Effects Study,” JAMA,
June 2001; issue 285, pages 3123–3129
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Association of Caregiving, 2006