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LTC Bullet:

A Day In the Life

Tuesday May 4, 1999


Heartwarming thanks to Jennifer Barry Hawes of the Charleston, SC Post and Courier for her poignant series on long-term care. Following are quotes from two of her articles, printed April 11th and 12th, 1999.

"He didn't raise any children. But now it seems Howell Stone, Jr. has two. Both are 83. They're his parents, who need almost constant help bathing and cooking and using the toilet.

"'On a good day, it's torment,' Stone says. 'On a bad day, it's like torture.'…

"Every night, Stone lays out all the items his parents might need before morning, and every night he finds himself in demand."

"When Stone calls area nursing homes, they tell him their Medicaid waiting lists stretch two or three years…. 'I get depressed many times. Sometimes you get desperate.'"

It's no better for Stone's parents.

"'I feel bitter. I feel angry,' [Stone's] mother says. 'I think, "why does it have to be this way?" I can't hardly describe it.'"

The Stones' story is not unique; many informal caregivers (family members and friends who are not compensated for their assistance) share this experience. Caregiving can be exhausting, especially when 24 hour care is required. Publicly funded home health care-when available-often has long waiting lists. Moreover, availability of informal caregivers is decreasing as more adults work outside the home. Relatives who take leaves of absence from work suffer financial consequences. Other relatives withdraw money from their own savings to care for parents, thereby jeopardizing their own long-term security. All these "solutions" are merely Band-Aids applied to a festering wound.

In contrast:

"The Simons didn't want to become burdens on their children, scattered in North Carolina, Texas, and New Jersey…. So, they signed up [for long-term care insurance]."

It paid off.

"It was quite enough for Naomi Simon to watch a series of strokes slowly steal her husband…. But at least she escaped the burden of paying for the nursing assistants who came to their home every day for 19 months after Medicare quit paying….

"[the nursing assistant provided] help with bathing [Mr. Simon] and rides to the doctor and grocery store…. Most of all, it was a relief for Mrs. Simon, who was having to get up every couple of hours to help [her husband], who suffered from urinary problems….

"'It's been a lifesaver,' Mrs. Simon said."

Long-term care insurance lifts the burden off everyone. Patients can get the care they need in the setting they prefer, spouses and relatives can rest at night, knowing their loved ones are getting good care, and no one needs to scramble-amidst everything else-to finance it all.

"At 43, [Paula Flint] opted to buy a [long-term care] policy for slightly more than $400 a year. 'I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it,' she said."

Four hundred dollars per year equals just over $33/month or $1/day… a small price for peace of mind.

Jennifer Berry Hawes, "Caretaker Burdens Increase as Aging Population Expands," The Charleston Post and Courier, April 11, 1999, p. 1A.

Jennifer Berry Hawes, "Long-Term Care Easier for Those with Insurance," The Charleston Post and Courier, April 12, 1999, p. 1A.