Make sure that you bring up these realities of extended end-of-life care to your clients while they can still do something about them:
1. Overwhelming burden on the spouse – Caring for the chronically ill very often makes the caregiver chronically ill. The mortality rate for elderly spousal caregivers is much higher (63%) than for non-caregivers.
2. Eldest daughter syndrome – If the spouse has passed away or both spouses need care at the same time, the eldest adult daughter bares most of the burden to deliver care, which can effectively end her life in the service to her parent’s heath care needs.
3. Serious-and sometimes permanent-conflict among adult children – Siblings rarely divide care up equally. Resentment and hostility can brew to a boil due to disparate financial capabilities, living in distant towns or states, and current responsibilities to growing children. Fear and denial now will almost result in trouble later. Preparing for the highly probably need to care for an incapacitated or mentally-challenged mother or father is better done well in advance of the event occurring.
4. Redirection of funds that were set aside for retirement living – This intensifies points 1-3 above in that the money needed to provide care for a spouse can diminish the lifestyle of the healthy spouse. It can also seriously deplete or eliminate any transfer of wealth to the next generation. All adult children of elderly parents should prepare for this potentially devastating financial situation.
As a licensed life & health agent, YOU are the solution to these problems because you are authorized to sell the solution. If your clients decline your recommendations to plan now, be sure to drop a dated and signed note into the client file that you performed as trained. Litigious adult children may become so desperate in confronting the costs of elder-care that they will go to any length to extract funds from those that could have helped prevent the financial burden that they face.
Data source: Schultz, R. & Beach, S. (1999). “The Caregiver Health Effects Study: Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality.”, JAMA, 282: 2215-2219