I will scramble many details here because of concerns about privacy.

A few days ago, I overheard a woman who looked as if she were in her 50s talking on the subway to another woman who looked to be in her 50s.

One told the other, “My mother is coming to New York. But she’ll have a hard time getting around. She can’t climb up stairs, or walk so good.”

The other woman asked, “Why not?

The first woman said, “Her leg is still infected.”

“Still?” asked the second woman. “But it’s been infected for months. When will it clear up?”

The first woman tried to explain to the second woman that, sometimes, people in their 70s have health problems that stick around for months, or years, even though the patient follows doctors’ orders and takes the right medicines.

The second woman, who was starting to get on in years herself, and might be rapidly aging out of a chance to get through the long-term care insurance (LTCI) medical underwriting process, seemed to have a hard time absorbing the idea that, toward the end of life, people may not get better.

Maybe that kind of defensive optimism about health problems is one of the psychological obstacles to people buying, or even thinking about buying, LTCI.

Many people just have a hard time imagining that anyone will need care for the long-term. They assume that people will just apply a little elbow grease to getting better, and, of course, get better. But at some point, sadly, most of us stop getting better.

See also: 

Do Californians have LTCI? Many are unsure

Know your market: Retirees and pre-retirees

Death is scary (but we need to get over it)