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Tag Archives: Life insurance

‘Gravity’ and the Long-Term Care Crisis


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By: Chris Orestis

I recently went to see the movieGravity” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  It is a fast-paced, exciting thrill-ride from start to finish. After we left the movie, and I replayed the life-threatening events for the actors that unfolded on the screen, I could not help but begin drawing comparisons to the long-term care funding crisis currently unfolding in America today.

Start with the stars of the movie: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are both baby boomers and they find themselves unprepared to deal with a sudden crisis that puts them in immediate jeopardy. Most seniors and baby boomers are also unprepared for what is too often a sudden health crisis through which they must safely navigate. In space, an unexpected collision with a satellite or other object is disastrous. For a family, an unexpected fall or rapid decline in health can also be disastrous. The astronauts in “Gravity” had to contend with limited oxygen and how they could conserve this precious resource long enough to find sanctuary. For families confronting the costs of long term care, money is like oxygen. It is a precious resource in limited supply that must be conserved. The biggest fear of the young is not living long enough, and the biggest fear of people in long-term care is living too long and outliving their “oxygen” supply.

Once disaster strikes in the movie, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are literally tethered together and entirely dependent on each other for survival. Spouses and their family also experience a similar “tethering” effect where they become very reliant on one another to make it through a long-term care crisis. The feeling of being overwhelmed can be helped by sharing the burden, and focusing on the ultimate goal of making sure a loved one will be able to receive the best possible care.

In the movie, the astronauts are prepared for every contingency and have dedicated support systems in place to get them through each phase of their mission. Nonetheless, when disaster strikes things quickly spin out of control. In life, too few people have made plans for how to handle long-term care. A future long-term care patient may have close loved ones, but those family and friends may not be able to drop everything in devotion to a patient’s care. Families should put in time now to discuss the wishes of loved ones when it comes to long-term care, and understand the financial situation and available resources.  Are there savings and investments that can be accessed; is there a long-term care and/or life-insurance policy in place that can be converted to pay for care– and where is it; is there a final will or living will, and should a power-of-attorney document be in place?

In the movies, our heroes often work their way through challenges with a combination of luck and skill (and, of course, some movie magic) to find their way to a happy ending.

For families confronting the hard decisions and costs surrounding long-term care, however, they will not be able to count on a hero swinging in at the last minute to rescue them. But, a happy ending is possible for families that take the time now to prepare, seek out information and know how to work together to make sure their loved one will be able to achieve a safe landing.

About Chris Orestis: Chris Orestis, nationally known senior health-care advocate and expert is CEO of Life Care Funding (www.lifecarefunding.com), which created the model for converting life insurance policies into protected Long-Term Care Benefit funds. His company has been providing care benefits to policy holders since 2007. A former life insurance industry lobbyist with a background in long-term care issues, he created the model to provide an option for middle-class people who are not wealthy enough to pay for long-term care, and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

 

 

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Three Tips for Trying to Act Like an Adult (for once?)

I just recently faced the horror of my 40th birthday.  Actually it really wasn’t that bad.  The way our youth-worshipping culture portrays aging, I almost thought that I would just turn to dust, or at least develop instantaneous rheumatoid arthritis.  But, in fact, the only thing that really changed was my thinking, at least a little bit.  While I realize now that getting older is not that bad, I also came to realize that there are some “grownup” things that I should probably take care of, things I never really bothered to think about before.  These are important, especially if you are a parent, and I would like to pass them along so that they might possibly help you to make that transition into adulthood a bit smoother, no matter your age.  Some of the things you may want to start thinking about soon include retirement, life insurance, and a will.  I know all of these may sound a little bit morbid to you, but it’s better to get them taken care of while you are still young and healthy.  One of the really good things is that you can take care of most of this online.  You can get retirement investment information, term life insurance quotes, and help writing your will, all without leaving your home or office.

Retirement seems to mean different things to different people.  Some people can’t wait for it, while other people dread it.  Some friends of mine see it as being “put out to pasture,” but I see it as having more options.  I will probably work until I’m 98, but I want to do it by choice, not out of necessity.  If you are with me on this, it’s not a bad idea to check out retirement strategies.  You have probably heard the horror stories about people who put off retirement planning too long and then end up in a terrible position, living out their “golden years” clouded with stress and desperation.  No thanks.  Talk to someone who will actually listen to your goals, your vision for your retirement.  There are many options, so it’s not as simple as looking up “best idea for retirement” on the internet.  If you can find someone reputable online to work with, you can get a better feel for mutual funds, IRA’s, 401K’s and all of that other stuff that sounds boring until you realize that you may not want to work forever.

Life insurance is another subject that I was not too wild about, but this may be one of the easiest grownup tasks to tackle.  For most people, term life insurance is the way to go.  It is inexpensive because you are only covered for a set period of time.  This means less risk to the company because you may survive the set period of time (God willing), meaning that they don’t have to pay out your benefits.  You set up the amount you want to be paid to your beneficiary if you should die within a certain amount of time: $500,000 for 20 years, $250,000 for 30 years, etc.  Once the term is up, you can always get a new policy.  It’s really easy these days to get an online quote that will tell you a number of options for term life insurance.  Once it’s done, you don’t have to think about it again for years, but you will know that your family is covered.

Along with life insurance, I came to realize that you are never too young to have a will.  It may sound morbid, but we just don’t know what will happen or when.  This is also easy, especially with the various legal services that are available via the internet these days.  They walk you through everything, and it’s not expensive at all, especially considering the peace of mind that you get out of knowing that you are being a good mom or dad.

These three things were not the most fun I have ever had.  That is certainly not what I am trying to say.  My point is that they were really not that bad, certainly not as bad as I had feared.  When I got a retirement plan figured out, purchased life insurance, and wrote a will all in one week, I felt more grown-up and responsible than ever – not in a boring way, but in a proud way, the kind of pride that you get only when you have done something good for others.  Being an adult is not so bad as long as you can still act like a kid on a regular basis.  Maybe you can challenge yourself to just do these three adult things, and then celebrate by acting like a buffoon for a little while.  I took my kids to the water park and acted like an idiot, confident in knowing that I had already paid my adult dues for the week.  It’s all about balance.

The author is a specialist in the insurance industry

 

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