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Memories, Long Term Care & the Light of Music

Insights

Eviscerate your memory 

Memories; in non-financial terms, is there anything more valuable to us as human beings?  Those times in a beautiful, meaningful place with family and/or friends, or the more sacred private moments that we share with those we are closest to. Those moments that may be unphotographed yet remain in the mind as clear as day. What treasures they are, stored away in our minds, available at a moment’s notice with the gift of recall. Now, for a moment try to imagine that most unique fiber of your being, that mix of DNA and experience that encompasses everything that makes you… you. Then try to comprehend just how destructive and truly sad it is to have your memory slowly but surely stripped away. All the while, the financial and emotional burden placed upon your family is immense and extremely difficult to traverse.  

Everything is beautiful, and she is so beautiful, she is so young and old 

In her early days my mother was a homecoming queen, prom queen and ultimately a pioneer in the home health care industry. She was a vibrant and compassionate soul and a true advocate for the elderly.  From the mid 1980’s to the early 2000’s she built and ran a successful home health care business, secured a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and taught Geriatric Care Management at the graduate level.  Elder care was her calling and she followed it until she no longer could. 

I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music 

My mother spent the last 11 plus years of her life in an assisted living memory care unit.  A safe space for those whose memories have been ripped away. She was surrounded by those with a calling, not completely unlike her own all those years ago. At $8,500 a month (in 2009 dollars) it was an expensive necessity.  Fortunately, long term care insurance and proper estate planning enabled us to concentrate on the person, not on the ugly disease that afflicted her or the $1,000,000 facility and health care costs that cause financial uncertainty.  Her comfortable room was always the source of music, which became our medium of communication as her short-term memory became non-existent. She was able to be with her grandchildren on holidays and create memories with them when memory betrayed her. Long-term planning allowed my family to focus on loving my mother, rather than worrying about how we could possibly pay for her care. 

The greatest thing you’ve ever seen 

For many parents their greatest fear is becoming a financial or emotional burden to their children.  Proper planning is the key to avoid or mitigate a catastrophic impact of a health issue. The long-term care insurance industry has historically been widely and justifiably criticized.  Between gross mispricing, poor claims paying and mismanagement the industry has failed in many ways.  The traditional pitfalls have been largely addressed in recent years through a variety of innovative products.  Contracts where the “use it or lose it” paradigm ruled the day and insurance companies reserved the right to pass along massive premium increases to their most vulnerable customers have largely yielded business to new hybrid policies. The new generation of policies have a death benefit component to them and a fixed premium schedule. Nobody likes to think about this subject, yet it is of the utmost importance to speak with one’s parents or one’s children. Have the conversation and act while you are young and insurable. Long term care planning is not a luxury, it is a necessity. 

Late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep 

My mother passed this last spring with grace and dignity. She was surrounded by music and those that loved her. Her memories are safe with us. Mom, you are here with me, you are here with me, you have been here and you are everything. 

Writer: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Michael Mills, Michael Stipe Copyright: Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group


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