The majority of people that own long-term care insurance have consistently cited “Not being a burden on my family” as the #1 motivator for planning for their future LTC needs. Therefore, it’s no wonder that people who have experienced an extended care situation with a loved one are most likely to purchase an LTC solution for themselves. The most astute advisors identify those clients and engage them in an educational discussion about LTC planning. However, all too often advisors jump immediately to the product solution rather than make an effort to understand the client’s own LTC experience.
By discussing the common, real-life consequences that family caregivers experience, you will engage your client in a more meaningful conversation that will heighten the client’s motivation to put a plan in place. The LTC sale is probably the least “transactional” sale in financial services… so use the following as a conversational template in discussing the true consequences of an unplanned LTC event.
Family members often experience Seven Painful Consequences when trying to be the primary caregiver for a loved one. Those consequences are:
Even those that long-planned to be the primary caregiver for an aging loved-one have experienced at least one of these consequences:
Emotional: As the reality of being a primary caregiver sets in, emotions can quickly consume you. These emotions stem from sadness, grief, anger, confusion, helplessness and more. That inner voice tells you that the life you once knew has been altered significantly going forward.
Mental: After initial waves of emotion subside, they are replaced by mental stress that can lead to depression. Many details must be addressed and tough decisions must be made regarding the necessary requirements of your loved one/patient. Questions of who, what, where, when and how all run through your head simultaneously… and it takes a toll – especially if you have other personal and professional responsibilities to manage.
Physical: Mental stress can be physically exhausting. Sleepless nights, fatigue, anxiety, and tension can wear you down. Caregiver responsibilities can challenge your own physical strength as you assist with bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, ambulating and other activities.
Interpersonal: A breakdown of family relationships can happen slowly or quickly depending on the changing needs of your loved one and the limitations, inabilities or resistance of family members providing care. Caregiving responsibilities are rarely shared equally among siblings or other family members. Additionally, female members of the family tend to bear the brunt of caregiving duties. Such inequalities can lead to frustration, anger, and family infighting. Sometimes the people who do the least are the most vocal when it comes to what you should be doing. Animosity can linger long after the extended care event has ended and can permanently damage relationships.
Social: When caregiving responsibilities encompass your daily routine, the enjoyable elements of your life take a backseat. Your ability to participate in the social moments of life are challenged by the time needed to provide care. Additionally, the pressures of caregiving can create negative personality changes in people. Friends may have their own perceptions and make assumptions (rightly or wrongly) of how you may be feeling and if you want to be bothered. The social life of which you were accustomed can be negatively impacted.
Spiritual: When someone you love becomes physically challenged or cognitively impaired, many caregivers assign blame, feel victimized or become permanently angry. “Why is this happening to Mom? I can't deal with this anymore.” The will to fight through the latest setback, find alternative care solutions and to remain positive can begin to erode. Sometimes your own personal religious beliefs are put to the test. “Why is God allowing this to continue?”
Financial: The financial consequences of long-term care event often fuel the six other consequences above. The cost of LTC services can be the most expensive item someone ever pays for, possibly exceeding the purchase of a home or the cost of a four-year private college education. Unfortunately, many families don’t research care financing options until care is needed… and they are utterly shocked to discover that health insurance and Medicare for the most part do not cover LTC services. The reality is that an unplanned LTC event can have devastating effects on retirement plans and other financial obligations.
By listening to your clients’ LTC experiences and talking about the Seven Painful Consequences above, you will solidify your rapport with your client and set the stage for explaining how these consequences can be mitigated with LTC insurance. And remember… the goal of LTC planning is not to cover 100% of your client’s future nursing home costs. The goal of LTC planning is to make what is often an unmanageable event into a manageable one for the whole family, including (and most importantly) the loved-one needing care.