Just before Christmas I was informed that my Grandfather Pat died — never pleasant news, especially amid the holiday season. While I was devastated to hear of this loss, Pat had been sick for years, so my focus immediately turned to my Grandmother Jeanne. Not only was I concerned with how she would handle the loss —as this marked the third man to pass away while with my grandmother — but I was concerned with whether she had enough money to pay the bills and where she would live now that she was on her own.
Feeling a bit helpless, I determined that going to Sun City, AZ for the funeral was the best support I could provide my grandma and would also give me an opportunity to discuss whether she was prepared for this transition. A few days after the service, the majority of our family had returned to their homes in various states throughout the country and I was left to spend a few days of quality time with my Grandma Jeanne.
One night when we were out to dinner, I began asking her about whether she had LTCI or a 401(k) to fall back on. I found out that her house and car were paid for in full and her only financial responsibilities would be utilities, car insurance and unexpected health care bills. Luckily she and my grandfather had began planning early and therefore had a hefty sum in a 401(k) — refreshing news considering how anxious I had been in the days previous.
My point here is that, while I report on long term care each day, I still fail to understand and/or comprehend the importance of such a product and the severity of such a situation. It’s not until a friend or family member is on the rocks, so to speak, that we remember the importance of utilizing long term care, health savings accounts and retirement savings vehicles for when the unexpected events in life affect your plans — not to mention your savings.
Have any of you been in a similar situation (or one more devastating) and had to pull together as a family to ensure someone was taken care of, both financially and emotionally? What advice would you give to someone without a hefty savings plan to fall back on? Is it ever too early to start planning for long term care? And why, might I ask, is the importance of LTC and similar products not taught to us in school?
Let me know your thoughts on this…