The Financialist • Issue 127 • October 2015
BY CECILIA TSANG BComm CFP CIM RHU
Ann and Will loved to socialize. Every Friday night, 52 weeks a year, their many friends went to their home to gather for coffee and appies. This started when their children were very young. All the families brought their children over to their home and the children would play together while the parents talked. On special occasions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ann and Will invited everyone over and cooked up huge feasts for everyone to share. Ann loved to bake and her light and fluffy cakes were always a highlight of the night for the 25-30 people who became their closest family friends over many years. Their generosity and desire to help others were evident to all their friends. Over time, the children grew up and started their careers while the coffee nights and the big feasts continued at their home.
Both Ann and Will were working full-time when the news came. They were in their late 50s, and the happy couple had plans to retire in about five years. They had dreams of travelling the world together, one continent at a time. Will was diagnosed with cancer. They attempted to stop the cancer with major surgery, but it had already spread beyond the area that was removed and was spreading relatively quickly. Will was unable to work very much after his diagnosis, due to the effects of the treatment in the early months, then to the cancer overtaking his body later on.
Ann, very quickly and without hesitation, quit her job to take care of Will, focusing all her attention on Will and catering to all his needs. Taking care of Will was more than a full-time job in itself. It was a 24-hour job, and Ann refused to leave Will’s side; she stopped going to her exercise classes, stopped volunteering, and she stopped all her social activities. During Will’s fight against the cancer, while his health deteriorated, Ann’s deteriorated also. Ann was naturally a social butterfly and without her normal social life, waves of depression started to build up inside her. She was soon diagnosed with high blood pressure and became at risk for diabetes. It was a stressful time for everyone in the family. Cash flow was quite tight as neither of them were working, their lifestyles completely changed, their regular coffee nights and feast nights ceased, and it was a struggle to simply get through each day. Every day was a rollercoaster, as Will’s body reacted to the treatment. Some hours were better than others.
It was devastating to the family as well. All their friends could see Will’s brilliant mind continue to shine, while his body was slowly being conquered by the cancer. While others tried to encourage Ann to take a break for her own health, she refused to, out of love and obligation for her husband. She continued to care for Will hand and foot, until he eventually passed two years after diagnosis.
Looking back at this situation, I am always personally moved almost to tears, because this is a true story: Ann and Will are my parents. I’ve spent much time thinking about how I could have changed things. And I would change things, if I had the knowledge back then that I have now. I would have ensured that each of my parents had taken out many different types of individual insurance, such as disability insurance, life insurance, and long term care insurance (group insurance is NOT sufficient nor does it have broad enough definitions of disability). In this situation, long term care insurance may not have saved my father from cancer; however, it may have possibly helped to save my mother from suffering from several different health issues – high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. Many families would do exactly what my mom did out of love and out of necessity. I now passionately talk about using long term care as a possible alternative. Perhaps, if my dad had some long term care insurance coverage, my mom would have been more open to hiring some in-home nursing care instead of doing it all herself, which would have given her some time to de-stress, socialize, and exercise, allowing her to delay or avoid her current health issues.
Today, my mother tells her friends that she feels secure about her health care situation should her health deteriorate. She has a long term care policy in place and knows that she will be looked after when she needs to be. She is also relieved to know that she will likely be less of a burden to us in the future, as the last thing she wants to do is to allow anyone to experience what she went through. She doesn't want to inconvenience us nor does she want to increase the burden when we are a part of the "sandwich generation", where we have the responsibility of looking after our aging parents while supporting our children at the same time.
Long term care insurance is a type of insurance which pays a monthly or weekly amount when you are unable to do 2 out of the 6 activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding). In addition, benefits also begin if you are able to do all the activities of daily living, but you have deteriorated mental ability, or cognitive impairment. With health care costs increasing substantially more quickly than inflation, this type of insurance may be helpful for most people, in many different situations, since we are living longer and longer, but may require care more often.
Talk to your Rogers Group Financial advisor to learn more about whether this type of insurance should be part of your overall financial plan.