Some weeks, trying to help consumers plan for long-term care (LTC) costs may feel like trying to hold back a hurricane with a napkin. Interest rates are still low. Stock prices are erratic.
Some of the LTCI issuers themselves seem… tired.
Meanwhile, maybe you’re still out there with the LTCI policies you can still sell, the annuities, the life insurance-based hybrids, the short-term care insurance (STCI) policies, the reverse mortgage loan applications, the PACE program fact sheets, and whatever other planning instruments you can find, and you may wonder why you’re still beating your head against the wall.
One response might be to shrug and close your eyes.
Another response might be to read “Aging in World History,” a new book by David Troyansky that talks about how societies around the globe have handled aging and the issues related to aging, such as long-term care, since recorded history began.
Reading the book may help you put your current situation in perspective and help you see that you’re part of a battle to help people have a decent quality of life in old age that’s been going on for thousands of years. You might not be the one to win the battle. You might have a hard time even staying in the battle. But at least you’ve played some part in it.
For a look at some of the LTC and LTC finance highlights from the first chapters in the book, which deal with aging in antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, read on.
In ancient Egypt, Troyansky writes, Ani, a scribe born more than 3,200 years ago, talked about the importance of intergenerational obligations.
“Nourish your mother as she nourished you,” the scribe wrote. “Sustain her in the same way as she bore you.”
Troyansky found a reference to an ancient Egyptian woman who disinherited her children from her second marriage because they had neglected her in her old age.
See also: The Business Faces
In China, followers of Confucius, a philosopher born more than 2,600 years ago, took the idea of the importance of venerating elders a step further.
Like Ani of Egypt, Confucius talked about the importance of children re-paying parents for the love and care the parents have provided the children.
“In serving his parents,” Confucius taught, “a filial son reveres them in daily life. He makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death; and he sacrifices to them with solemnity.”
For Confucius and other Chinese philosophers, caring properly for the aged had an impact outside the family.
“Chinese thought presented filial piety as the fundamental value the basis of all social, cultural, and even political connections, including one’s relationship to state authority,” Troyansky writes.
Imagine how well LTC planners would be treated in the United States if the country truly viewed “nourishing the old” as the basis of each citizen’s relationship with the federal government.
See also: 33 of the best retirement quotes
Hippocrates, a Greek physician born more than 2,400 years ago, helped establish the field of gerontology.
He came up with the idea that aging was the result of the body becoming cold and dry. He gave patients recommendations for changes in diet and behavior that might slow the aging process, Troyansky writes.