What word pops into you head or out your mouth when you learn that a family member, business colleague or dear friend has tested positive for COVID-19?
I’d tell you what comes to my mind but my 100-year-old father reads my blogs and he would blush and be disappointed in my language choices. I’ll just say that the words are not for polite company.
It can be devastating. I have clients and business colleagues, old and young, who have died from COVID-19. Not with it, but of it. Isolated from their families. No “died peacefully surrounded by family” experience for them. No opportunity to say goodbye.
COVID-19 impacts families. Not just the stricken. One-third of Americans unexpectedly become caregivers overnight. And one-third of COVID-19 survivors experience severe impairments including organ damage, blood clots, chronic fatigue and new auto immune disease just to name a few. The health of the whole family is affected.
Fifty percent have not made end of life decisions
So, what can we do? Follow the science? Okay. But our message is not about science. It’s about plans and documents. It’s about life and death.
Do you have a plan for long-term care? Living will? Trust? Healthcare power of attorney? Does your family understand your wishes? These are plans and documents that can bring peace of mind to the entire family.
Just as important as living well is dying well. And as with health issues, dying affects the whole family. Anticipating long-term care needs to be part of a plan for both.
- Only 11% of Americans age 50 and older own long-term care insurance.
- The government projections are that by the time we reach age 65, 70% of us will experience a long-term care event.
- Just 50% of Americans have had end of life discussions with their families.
A long-term care plan is essential to living well and financial security. Have you considered that it is also a gift to your family?
Here are the steps to defining your long-term care plan:
- If you needed care, where would you want to receive care? Define your venue – home, living with a child or other family member, assisted living, nursing home, etc. Think through the pros and cons of each venue.
- If you needed care, who would you want to provide care? Define your caregiver – child or other family member, friend, trained caregiver. Think through the pros and cons of each caregiver.
- If you needed care, how would you pay for care? Define costs for each venue and care provider. Think through the pros and cons of each situation.
Once you have defined venue, caregiver and costs, discussing your plan with family and others who will be affected is critically important to do. What value is your plan if no one who has a role in it knows about your wishes?
Then find an estate planning attorney who can assist you with a living will or trust.
These are things we all can do to deal with the threat of COVID-19. A plan for long-term care and end of life directives are more far-reaching than the current virus. And will bring a level of peace to our troubled minds.