21st Century Living

Long-term care (LTC) insurance policies: Rejection hurts.

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An insurance agent from a large, widely-known insurance company recently told me that 50% of all applicants for long-term care (LTC) insurance are rejected.  Boy, with those statistics, it’s hardly worth pursuing, knowing that the hurt of rejection might be in your future.

John Matthews, Caring.com senior editor and attorney gives all of us a reality check:

“No one has a ‘right’ to buy long-term care insurance.  That results in insurance companies refusing to sell policies to people they think are likely to collect on the policies soon, or who might collect for a long time.  If an insurance company thinks the odds are that it might not make money on you, it won’t sell you a policy.”

WOW – that’s encouraging isn’t it?

While doing research for this article, I found the information provided by insurance brokers about LTC insurance to be very enlightening.  Apparently many LTC insurance companies will accept you as an insured if you have had open-heart surgery, but will balk at covering someone who has arthritis.  Why you may ask?  I was told it is because the insured with heart issues will die before needing benefits whereas the person with arthritis will most likely become disabled and therefore cost the insurance company too much money in benefits payout.

Wow – that’s depressing, and somewhat maudlin, isn’t it?

I stand by my earlier article, Long Term Care Insurance Scares Me.  Insurers are trying to sell a product for which so few are eligible.  I thought I was scared before.  Now that I’ve done my research, I’m petrified!

Please share your experiences trying to obtain LTC insurance.  Whether you were accepted or rejected – we want to know.  If you were rejected and appealed the insurance company’s decision – we REALLY want to hear about it.

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Moving Mom and Dad – or your spouse.

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Moving Mom and Dad – Leaving Home is an article from the June/July 2012 AARP Magazine.  Statistics on aging are astounding, and scary.  “By 2020 some 6.6 million Americans will be age 85 or older.”  That’s an increase of 4.3 million from the year 2000.  Time to celebrate – right?  We’re living longer – and in some cases – thriving in our older age.  The reality of the situation, however, is that eventually we’ll need some sort of assistance with our activities of daily living (ADLs) that might require a move to a care facility of some sort.

The stories presented in the attached article describe family instances where emergent circumstances warranted an emergent decision to move a parent into some sort of care facility.  The best case scenario, as this AARP article suggests is that you, “dig the well before you’re thirsty.”  Nice sentiment – but not always possible.

I have written numerous articles for my blog that address the difficulties the caregiver, and the one needing care, go through when making the decision to choose a long-term care (LTC) facility for a loved one.  Below are links to each of those articles.  I hope they prove beneficial to you.

Deathbed promises and how to fulfill them.

Caregiving: The Ultimate Team Sport.

Selecting a Senior housing community – easy for some, not for the rest of us.

Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting Senior Housing.

Adjustment disorder: a long-term care facility side- effect.

Be an advocate for your aging loved one.

Visiting a loved one at a long-term care facility.

Caregiver guilt.

A Hibiscus flower to brighten your day

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Today.

A fellow blogger in Singapore posted the flower you’ll see when you click on the above link.  Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Medications: harbinger of cognitive decline?

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Why can’t I remember how to use this can opener?

English: A modern-type can opener.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How in the world did I get lost driving to the supermarket – a route I drive at least once a week!

My words are getting all jumbled up and my sentences aren’t making sense.

What’s happening to me?

Are you one of the many people who started to take a medication to resolve a condition, or at least to make it better, only to end up with distressing – and life-changing – mild cognitive impairment?

How long did it take for you and your doctor to realize that this horrific change of condition was caused by a medication that was added to your health regimen?

What types of expensive, and grueling, tests did you go through prior to coming to that conclusion?  Did any of you go through neurological testing?

And how long did it take for you to feel “normal” again once you took your doctor’s advice to either go off the medication or replace it with a medication that did not cause cognitive decline?

I am personally aware of several people who experienced cognitive decline after taking the Pfizer drug, Lyrica (pregabalin).  This drug was originally intended for treatment of neuropathic pain and as an anti-seizure medication, but was approved for treatment of fibromyalgia in 2007.  Additionally, cholesterol-lowering  statin medications oftentimes cause the same cognitive outcomes.  And with the Pfizer drug Lyrica, increased depression – even suicide or newly diagnosed depression – were directly linked to this drug.

As Baby Boomers, we’re entering a phase where, depending upon what ails us, we start adding prescription medications to our health regimen in an attempt to have a high degree of health and well-being.

We need to be completely aware of how a medication may affect us, but it’s unfortunate that most of our awareness is dependent upon the Patient Information Sheet provided by the pharmaceutical companies.  These information sheets are sketchy, at best, and carry only half-truths, at worse.

Do you have similar experiences you can share?  We’d like to hear from you because awareness, and education, will help us all.

Lighten up Mondays

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At a wedding reception, a priest and a rabbi met at the buffet table.

“Go ahead,” said the priest, try one of these delicious ham sandwiches.

“Overlooking your divine rule just this once won’t do you any harm,” added the priest.

“That I will do, dear sir,” replied the Rabbi,

“on the day of your wedding!”

Baby Boomer + Aging Parent = a changing paradigm.

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Planning for a wedding?  FUN!!!!!

Putting together an extended vacation to a tropical paradise?  EXHILARATING!

Figuring out how to help mom and dad with their increasing care needs?  UNEXPECTED!

Logo of NPR News.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) Story: Preparing for a Future that includes Aging Parents addresses the unexpected, and the unplanned for.  Whether because we’re kidding ourselves or we really believe it, we oftentimes can’t imagine our parents as anything but the energetic, robust, independent mom and dad with whom we grew up.  And if we don’t live near them, we’re falsely sheltered in our assumption that mom and dad are doing just fine; at least they were the last time we saw them during the Holidays!  If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we’ll admit that our infrequent visits with the parents shock us greatly as we notice a bit of feebleness in their manner, because as the above story states, “time does what it does.”

Surprisingly, only 13% of some 4,000 U.S. workers surveyed for the 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report considered that the need for long-term care would affect their household.  We love to live blissfully ignorant, don’t we?  We have so many of our own stresses and pressures associated with running our family household, we’re just not going to entertain having to be on-point with our parents’ needs as well.  Guilty!

Taking a walk with my Dad.

I became a long-distance caregiver in the Seattle, Washington area for my father who lived in an all-inclusive facility called a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Southern Oregon.  The first eight years he lived there were worry free because my father was one of those robust parents who was on the path towards living to a ripe old age.  He did live to a ripe old age, dying at the age of 89, but from the age of 84 until his death, Alzheimer’s invaded our family’s peaceful existence, and I found that even as a long-distance caregiver, I was on-point 24/7.

Caveat: my parents had purchased long-term care (LTC) insurance so none of us three offspring were financially responsible for my father’s care.  But anyone who has been a caregiver for a loved one knows that care isn’t always equated to monetary expenditure.   In my case, the constant need to travel to Southern Oregon to monitor his care and be the designated (self-designated) sibling best equipped to coordinate his care with the facility’s staff, lead to my decision to temporarily leave my career, which was, coincidentally, one in the long-term care housing industry.  By the way – the answer was not to move him up to the Seattle area.  His financial investment in this CCRC up to that point rendered that an untenable option.

Even though I absolutely relished this opportunity to give back to my father – and I truly did – it was very difficult on my household and me.  My health temporarily suffered.  Everything I did revolved around being available for my father and hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice.  I lived in a five year period of dreading the ringing of my home phone or mobile phone because it most likely meant that something needed tending.  And getting home and finding NO voicemails in our phone system was cause for celebration.

  But enough about me.

Are you prepared for the eventuality of attending to your parents’ care or are you already on that journey?

Or maybe you are already caring for a spouse with medical or cognitive needs.  How are you managing that difficult task?

Let us hear from you.  Not talking about it won’t make it go away.  It’s time to face the piper and be as prepared as we can for the inevitable.

Cost of Dying: planning for a good death, from advance directive to talking with your family

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Cost of Dying: planning for a good death, from advance directive to talking with your family.

The article posted here is well worth the read.  It is very comprehensive and reveals the nitty gritty of the decisions that are so important, and too often emergent, as we and/or our family members age.

When my husband and I set up our living wills/advance health care directives a few years ago, we did so as a living gift to each other.  The attached article reflects that sentiment as well.  With all of the details spelled out in advance, the surviving loved one is not thrust into an emergent decision that by its very nature holds one of the biggest responsibilities we can carry on our shoulders.  To be sure, an advanced health care directive doesn’t take away all of the end-of-life challenges that occur but it does allow the surviving family members to feel at ease as they respect their loved one’s wishes that were expressly made known well in advance of the need for implementation.

Having these discussions with loved ones can be uncomfortable for some,  but if framed in the guise of being a living gift to those left behind, the discussions take on a whole new meaning and can’t help but come out in a positive light.