Dear LTC agents and brokers:
Though I’m not the editor in charge of long-term care planning news, being one of the digital editors here at LifeHealthPro.com means that I get to read every article and blog post that is published on this website.
I’ve read a lot about planning for longevity, what caregivers go through, what long-term care is and how it works. I’ve been reading so much that I’ve started thinking more about my own longevity, my parents’ nearing retirement and my grandmother’s current situation.
However, as I’ve written before, it’s one thing to read about experiences, laws and insurance products, and it’s quite another to experience them in the flesh.
If you read my blog post from a few weeks ago, then you know that I have a 93-year-old grandmother who is very ill and currently in the hospital again (if you haven’t, that’s OK, go here, I’ll wait).
I have been trying to talk to my family about my grandma’s plans for everything: from her life insurance policy (does she have one?) to her funeral wishes, the latter of which I have a vague idea of what she wants. Nothing, to my limited knowledge, is written down or sketched out.
Every time I bring up the topic with my father — it’s his mother, after all — he doesn’t want to talk about it. Here are some examples of his excuses to not talk about this very difficult subject:
- My head hurts.
- I don’t feel very well right now.
- I don’t want to talk about this right now/ We’ll talk about that later.
- She has some papers. They’re in the house. I’m not sure where.
- I don’t want to think about this.
And who does want to think about their own mortality or their loved ones dying? No one, at least, no one I personally know. While it is sort of taboo to talk about someone’s death while they are alive, how else are we going to plan for their death? But, my father is in denial, and doesn’t want to listen.
So how do I break that communication barrier? How do I get through to my dad that, “Hey! Time is running out”?
Well, today we’re in the middle of the oncoming storm or the sad “beginning of the end.” My grandma is in intensive care and we don’t know what’s going to happen. Is she going to get better or is this “it”?
What’s worse, she was released from the hospital last Sunday and we had to take care of her at her home, even though she couldn’t sit up on the bed or move. We don’t have any medical training and her doctor hasn’t been helpful.
Needless to say, it’s been a tough few weeks. Tougher than I ever imagined something like this would be. Being an elder caregiver is a physically and mentally demanding job. No previous experience in my life, my mom’s or my brother’s lives had prepared us for this.
I keep re-reading articles from Margie Barrie and Stephen D. Forman, two of our many contributors here at LifeHealthPro.com, about ways to start the long-term care planning conversation. I have tried to start the conversation, but it is always denied.
The latest question I’ve been asking myself is: Is it legally possible to go behind my family’s back and try to set up some kind of plan with an advisor? The answer — I believe — is no; my hands are tied because I’m the granddaughter.
To add insult to injury, my family didn’t even know that they needed medical power of attorney to talk to my grandmother’s health insurance company. So, basically, we couldn’t even ask if her case was being evaluated, if her electric adjustable bed was being sent to the house or if she has a right to have a fully-paid nurse go to the house to check up on her.
So, dear agents and brokers who are reading this: I’m a millennial with a 90+ year-old grandma and two parents that are merely five years away from retirement age. I have been reading your advice, your articles, your comments and opinions. I have been trying to follow your advice on getting the conversation started, yet, that hasn’t worked. What other things can I do?
And you bet your bottom dollar that I will start planning my parents’ long-term care very soon, especially after this horrible experience.
Thank you for reading. Onwards…