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LTCI Watch: Death Also Comes for Caregivers

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Of course, you all know this. I know it. Everyone knows it. But somehow I didn’t know it the way I know it now until I heard this story.

Some families are lucky enough to avoid needing much formal long-term care (LTC) because of the Super Woman.

The Super Woman might have grown up in an age when women weren’t expected to work outside the home quite as seriously as they are today, and they may have no job outside the home at all, or the kind of job that has reasonable, regular hours and generous leave policies.

The Super Woman makes formal LTC less necessary than it might be otherwise because she performs superhuman feats of driving her elderly relatives around, looking after the home, hiring household help, and generally just moving heaven and earth without breaking a sweat.

There’s a woman in, say, Springfield (which Springfield? some Springfield; I’m trying really hard to make this story as hypothetical as possible) who has been the family Super Woman.

Let’s call her Lois.

Lois and her three children are close and loving. They all want the best for the father of the family. But Lois has had the time, energy and skills to do what others think about.

In theory, if you put Lois on a wrestling mat, and could have her wrestle an insurance company, she would mop the floor with the insurance company.

But now, Lois has discovered that she might have cancer. For awhile, at least, she might have to focus on that.

The family’s LTC plan has always been, “Plan to count on Lois.” But now that plan might not work out quite as well as everyone had hoped.

Insurance is really supposed to protect us against the catastrophes we can’t plan for, not so much against the run-of-the-mill stuff that we should be able to plan for.

But one of the catastrophes that we can’t easily plan for is the reality that a family’s Lois may end up having trouble with her own activities of daily life while tend to an aging spouse, or aging parents, or both.

One question to ask a family considering LTC insurance might be what would happen if that family’s Lois discovered she had to put her own health first.