Amy knows first-hand the difference it makes when someone plans ahead for their possible long-term care needs. She also knows what happens when someone does not take those steps. Amy is a perfect representative of the "sandwich generation." She works a full-time job while raising two teenage children, and provides long-term care support and assistance for her parents and her in-laws.
Her parents bought a long-term care insurance policy about 15 years before their health began to decline. After Amy moved her parents to a home near her neighborhood, she handled their medications, transportation and found someone to make meals for them. As Amy’s father’s Parkinson’s disease progressed, and her mother developed dementia, they needed to move, first to a personal care facility and then to skilled nursing care. Her mother's long-term care insurance covered the costs of her care, but her dad needed care beyond the extent of the policy he purchased. Fortunately, as a smart financial planner himself, he managed to save enough to cover those costs.
Amy’s in-laws did not plan ahead. Long-term care was not something they wanted to think about, so when they needed help, they had to go into a nursing home and pay for their own care. This took a toll on them and on their children, both financially and emotionally.
Amy believes that her parents did not want to be a burden to their children, so they planned ahead. Her parents felt strongly about making important end-of-life decisions. They made them in advance so that their children did not have to handle that on their own. While they are not always easy things to do, Amy recalls some of these preparations as special family times. "We had a lovely weekend at the lake and mom just told us, 'Go inside the house and decide amongst yourselves which things you'd want after we're gone.' It was kind of a gift to us," said Amy. "It was something mom was able to do for us and something I plan to do for my two children as well."
Amy knows that many people would rather not think about these things and therefore they fail to plan ahead. Like her parents, she and her husband are making all the needed arrangements in advance. They prepared their wills, have advance directives and powers of attorney and, as a 50th birthday present to themselves, bought long-term care insurance. "I was glad to help my parents when they were still living at home, but having the insurance really meant they could choose a place that was only one mile from where we lived and not have to worry about the cost." That's the kind of peace of mind that I want for my kids."
Amy says, "People really need to sit down and take stock of how they've planned for the end of their life and for the possibility of needing long-term care. In addition, they should do those things now while they are able. Make sure they have a will, evaluate their finances and health care arrangements and consider insurance if it makes sense for them. Having a plan can really make a difference. It did for my parents and that's the kind of peace of mind that I want for us and for our children."