Monday, May 11, 2020

My Belated Mother's Day Story

I hope everyone celebrated Mother's Day yesterday with mom, or in my case, remembering my mother and her legacy. Mother's Day conjures up all sorts of memories about my mom, grandmothers and other women who were surrogate "moms" from my childhood.

My mother was considered to be "everyone's mom" as she was accessible to most of my friends growing up. She would offer advice, encourage us and give us cooking tips. But in her later years, she slowed down a lot. In 2006, while having knee replacement surgery, she suffered a mild stroke that triggered dementia. My father insisted on taking care of her at home. 

Years earlier I had expressed concern that my parents needed Long Term Care (LTC) insurance, only to be rebuffed. As I lived two hours away and my only sibling was seven hours away, we struggled to make sure my dad, in his 80's at this point, could handle the stress of caring for his wife as well as maintaining his own health. He lost a lot of weight and would call often for assistance. It was difficult for everyone, especially when she was having "episodes" related to her dementia. 

At one point in the beginning my father told my sister, "Maybe I need to look into that Long Term Care insurance for your mother." My sister replied that it was too late, since no company would issue a policy at that point, and he should have taken my advice earlier. Frustration boiled over as we knew this was no time for "I told you so."

Watching this play out over the course of five years took it's toll on me and my sister. Our mother was there physically, and did her best to keep her dignity as she forgot who we were, including my father. She'd say things like, "This man (my dad) won't help me." Sometimes I'd visit and she recognized my face but couldn't remember my name. She would often insist her brothers, who had passed away year earlier, were in the house visiting her. 

When my mom passed away in 2011 my father was a shell of his former self. He looked old and frail, and walked with a shuffle. I never brought up the Long Term Care issue again, which would have come in handy for him as well, because shortly after my mother's passing he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. 

The fact is that most Long Term Care policies include home health benefits, which would have helped greatly for both of my parents. And now there are Short Term Home healthcare (STHHC) policies, which help with the costs associated with being at home only and not a facility. Again, both of my parents would have benefited. 

Enjoy your mother if you can, and one of the best things you can do for her and your family is to prepare for the future with LTC or STHHC coverage. And as always, stay healthy. 

Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, as well as a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient.

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