In the beginning, I’d visit 12 to 15 households per week. Often the people I met had cared for parents, spouses, siblings or disabled children and wanted to plan ahead. In one meeting my client hung up the phone on yet another crisis in her mother’s care, pointed at me and said, “I don’t ever want my kids to go through this.” Another with both parents sleeping apart in the same care facility and having just sold a vacation home to pay for it told me, “I want my children to be sad at my passing, not relieved that a burden was lifted.” My clients taught me this insurance was as much for others as for themselves.
In 2009, my father died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 97. In roughly 12 years, he’d gone from a brilliant, witty athlete to not knowing night from day or me from you. In hindsight the disease had expressed as early as the mid-1980s in forgetfulness, anxiety, restlessness, all of which I’d ascribed to a chronic lack of sleep. I thought he just needed more shuteye. Turns out insomnia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. His disease had a long tail, apparently.
My father didn’t have LTC insurance. When I began my career in 1999, he was 87 and too old to qualify. I also doubt he’d have aced a memory test in his 70’s, which is why anyone thinking of LTC insuring should do it sooner, not later—the mind doesn’t generally sharpen with age.