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Overcome the Anxiety: How to Have the Tough Talk with Your Family About Long-Term Care

Insights & Ideas Team •  December 22, 2014 | Home and Family

You never want to consider the possibility that you or a loved one may someday need ongoing help with the tasks of everyday living, such as bathing, dressing and eating. Yet in your lifetime, there’s a good chance that you will, in some way, be impacted by the need for long-term care.

  • If you live to the age of 65, there’s a 70 percent chance you’ll eventually need some kind of long-term care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website
  • And even if you aren’t the one in need of care, there’s a good chance you’ll be providing care to a loved one. A recent AARP study, Understanding the Impact of Family Caregiving on Workshows 42 percent of all workers in the U.S. have provided care for an aging relative.

Meryl Comer, Alzheimer’s industry advocate and caregiver, knows this all too well. “It’s always too soon to talk about these things, until it’s too late.” When she and her husband, Harvey, were in the prime of their lives, they were blindsided by his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 56 and the need for a level of care they hadn’t planned for. “We thought we were financially prepared in every way. We were funding our portfolios. We planned for disability. We had life insurance. But we hadn’t planned for the possibility that one of us would need long-term care,” she said. “We had one conversation about it in which he said, ‘You work so hard, let me just take care of you.’ And I thought, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ That was the extent of our long-term care conversation.”

Twenty years later, Meryl remains her husband’s primary caregiver and is an advocate for early planning as a way for families to better prepare themselves financially, emotionally and physically for a potential long-term care event. In a recent webcast, The Retirement Wild Card That Can Derail Your Plan, she joined Steve Sperka, Northwestern Mutual vice president of disability and long-term care, to talk about the importance of having about having early conversations with loved ones about long-term care.

To view the entire webcast, click here.

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