• Chatting in the kitchen during a Memorial Day barbeque, my friend gestured at his father in law. “Philip is going through something that would resonate with your project.”

    Philip’s 85 year old mother is in a long-term care facility, costing $11,000 a month.

    An immigrant, she’d worked hard to buy and maintain a building in what has become a great area of town. She intended to die in her sleep and leave the building to her children.

    Now the long term care bills threaten to dissolve this asset, and the family is doing its best to cope with the emotional and financial repercussions of a drawn out illness.

    Though three decades apart in age, Philip and I shared the bond of having navigated the eldercare and social service system for a parent.

    The conversation turned to the lessons we can learn about financial and legal planning to protect ourselves, our parents and our children. Entrenched in the topic is the struggle to honor our parents and fulfill our filial responsibilities.

    I’d just had the big conversation with my dad about Long Term Care insurance. I’m still feeling conflicted about the choice (and seeking advice)- but at least we’re having the conversation and starting to make informed decisions as a family.

    On my way home I picked up the latest edition of New York Magazine, with a retro 1950’s portrait of a woman and the title “Mom, I Love You. I Also Wish You Were Dead. And I Expect You Do, Too.”  

    The author, Michael Wolff, recounts a harrowing battle with his mother’s dementia and misguided medical treatment.

    He starts and ends the article with his own decision-making process about LTC insurance.

    “I am, as my insurance man pointed out, a ‘sweet spot’ candidate. Not only do I have the cash (though not enough to self-finance my decline) but a realistic view: Like so many people in our fifties—in my experience almost everybody—I have a parent in an advanced stage of terminal breakdown.’

    He writes an e-mail to his early adult children asking them to weigh in about the decision to purchase LTC insurance. None of them respond.

    So, he writes,

    “After due consideration, I decided on my own that I plainly would never want what LTC insurance buys, and, too, that this would be a bad deal. My bet is that, even in America, even as screwed up as our health care is, we baby-boomers watching our parents’ long and agonizing deaths won’t do this to ourselves. We will surely, we must surely, find a better, cheaper, quicker, kinder way out.”

    I sent the article to my dad and got the following email response:

    Just read the article. Extremely powerful. As for myself, I’m still going to take the insurance (if I am approved), but I certainly do not want any heroic measures to prolong a life that has become no longer worthy living.

    Lots of love,

    The politics of death and dying is playing out from failure of the CLASS Act to ‘Death with Dignity’ debates, but it starts with small conversations among parents, children, and partners.

    What do you think?

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    This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 at 11:44 am and is filed under Communication & Planning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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