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Another chance at caregiving

Posted by Nancy Dykeman | Feb 17, 2015 3:30:00 PM

I’m sitting at my desk with a busy day ahead of me and I’m wondering, how am I going to do this again? Image source: Flickr user Evan Fetterman

My husband has a degenerating lower back and we used his long-term care insurance benefits four years ago for about five months.  I knew I was going to save him from the terrible pain and suffering he experienced at that time but I didn’t know who was going to save me as the primary caregiver.  His policy saved me by providing the additional income we needed to hire Karen, who took over my care role when I was traveling and speaking about long-term care.  What a relief she was to me and to him because she was able to provide 4-5 hours per day, 5 days a week while I was working.  She let the dogs out, prepared his food for him and made sure he ate it, did laundry, cleaned up around the house, monitored his taking of his heavy pain medications, made sure he was not getting up by himself, and kept him company with her great stories of her own funny family.  Basically, she was me during the daytime hours and I took care of him at night and on the weekends.

Even with this help, I lost myself.  I became so anxious and depressed that I ended up in the hospital because I wasn’t managing the stress or my own health issue.  Here we were, both failing and I felt so much guilt that I couldn’t, “do it all.”  No telling what would have happened if I hadn’t hired Karen through the income from his policy.  It all worked out and is just a memory – until now.

My husband contracted a serious staph infection in his lower back and on his spinal column this last Christmas and became so ill with it, and it attacked the weakest part of his body, his back. The pain was debilitating, he couldn’t even get out of bed. He had surgery on January 6 to remove as much of the infection as possible and the surgeon removed a whole vertebrae bone on the right side of his spine.  His back is now weakened more and he has had to fight the infection with IV therapy in a rehabilitation hospital about 1 hour from our home.  I’ve been there every day giving him my attention during therapy and recovery in between working 8-9 hours a day.  Once again I am in the caregiving role even though he is in the rehab center.

Now he is returning home tomorrow and I’m anxious about controlling the IV therapy, which I have never done, and his new diagnosis of Type I diabetes with insulin.  These two health issues, in addition to his ongoing recovery for about 6 more weeks terrifies me but I’m strong and I will not let this get me down again.  I have filed a claim for homecare assistance but we do have the 90 days of services to pass before his benefits begin.  This is a problem because Medicare is paying for the medical needs he has but not the homecare he and I need in order for me to manage his care and work.  There will be some out of pocket costs.

Our daughter and family live in the same large home we have, for just this reason, but she is pregnant and won’t be able to care for their little daughter and her father.  She will help but I am on duty as primary caregiver. 

This is happening to so many families and what in the world will they do without insurance to pay the bills and provide the care to relieve the caregivers?  This is exactly why I am in this industry and believe so strongly in protecting the caregivers from the devastating consequences of caregiving.

My husband will get the care he needs, the bills will be paid, and it really isn’t all about him.  It’s also about me and how I can maintain sanity through this again.  I am so thankful we bought our policies 18 years ago and we have great coverage.  I’m just praying that caregiving won’t take so much out of me that I will need to file a claim for myself much earlier than we had planned.  I can’t quit working this time and I want to work to keep the variety and mental challenges in my life. 

My hat is off to caregivers and I want you to understand that I know what it takes and it’s more than providing care, it is praying, crying, asking for support, and muddling through this life full of love for the people we care about most. 

What you need to know about long-term care insurance


Topics: Advice articles about planning, Educational Content for Consumers

Written by Nancy Dykeman

Nancy Dykeman is a long-term care consultant for LTCI Partners, LLC. She provides education and solutions to individuals and business groups on developing a plan for extended care and funding that plan. Nancy has been a licensed insurance producer for over 15 years while her experience in planning began more than 30 years ago as co-owner of her family-owned funeral services company in northeast Iowa. After becoming a licensed nursing home administrator in 1989, she operated large retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. She was a caregiver for her mother for 20 years, her father for five years, her husband for several months and most recently, her daughter, who has battled cancer. Nancy’s goal is to help families prepare for caregiving and aging issues through development of a plan for care. She is recognized nationally as a premier educator in the LTC field; an instructor for The Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification (CLTC) since 2003, a former Chairman of the Board on the CLTC Board of Standards, and a faculty member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors since 2006. Nancy was selected as a national presenter for The Women’s Project for Long-Term Care, providing education on this women’s issue. Nancy and her family resides in Beaufort, South Carolina.

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