Wendy Boglioli has learned that anyone can end up needing long-term care. (AP Photo/Gail Oskin)

Now more than ever, I believe it’s important people know their options and have a plan for financial security.

I am an Olympic Champion from the 1976 Olympics for swimming. My team took the only gold medal for women’s swimming that year against the East Germans. I was the only American athlete interviewed for the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary titled “Doping for Gold,’’ and the only American female athlete that was invited to participate in the upcoming BBC documentary with Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz.

At age 21, at the Olympics, my parents were unable to see me win the bronze medal. My six siblings got together and sent our parents to Montreal where they did see me win the gold medal. Before the Olympics, my dad had become ill. By the time he needed a facility, it was $18 a day, and we weren’t sure how we could pay for that cost. 

After the Olympics, I went out in the community to meet with people and research facilities for what Dad might need. I found the majority of the people in facilities were women and they were essentially broke. Women are doubly impacted as caregivers and recipients. They had spent their time caring for loved ones, now in need of care, there was no one at home to care for them and the cost for home care was prohibitive.

This is when I started down the road of educating families and businesses about the importance of planning for long-term care. Eventually, this led me to become the national spokesperson for Genworth. I learned that similarly to my Olympic training, which involved having discipline and a clear plan for achieving the end goal, preparing for your future financial security would directly affect success.

Today, my siblings and I are taking care of my mom. Due to escalating health issues, we had to make the decision to put her in a skilled nursing facility. The costs per day for her are $238 – quite a jump from $18 per day for my Dad.

Because of what I experienced with my dad and saw happening to my audiences, my husband and I bought our policy at age 42. We didn’t want to be a financial or physical burden to our family.

People should start thinking about planning in their 40s – long-term care isn’t about being old. I am not immune to an accident or cancer. Things can and do happen today when you are younger. Like most insurances, it can also be more affordable to purchase at an earlier age when you are healthy.

Even after winning my gold medal, the lessons that I learned with my dad and mom helps me to always strive for my personal gold when it comes to making the right financial decisions and advising others on creating a financial roadmap.

My passion is to educate the public about making a plan. You’re doing the right thing for you and your loved ones and quite frankly helping protect their lifestyle.

One of the best ways to start the conversation is to draw from personal experiences of people that have had a long term care situation.

Great questions to ask: Where do you want to be? Home? Do you need to consider other options based on family history?