homecare benefits long term care insurance

Tim Murray provides a review of Dr. Richard Lazar’s book, “Longer and Better Living with Homecare Benefits from Long Term Care Insurance, topics include Homecare vs. nursing homes, living better as seniors, and purchasing insurance early in life.

Long Term Care Insurance Benefits

By Tim Murray, Co-Founder and President of Aware Senior Care

Recently, I had the privilege to meet with Dr. Richard Lazar, PhD from Apex, NC. Doctor “Doc” Lazar founded the Lazar Group together with his wife, Carôn Caswell Lazar. You can read about their amazing travels and achievements on the Lazar Achievement Psychology website. Doc and I talked about things we have in common, such as working for IBM at points in our careers and living in New York. We also discussed Doc’s comprehensive leadership system called “The New American Leadership System™” which he developed after getting to know Red Auerbach, the legendary former coach of the Boston Celtics.
Doc was excited to discover that Gina and I provide in-home care services because he wrote about his experiences with in-home care, and its many benefits, in his book Longer and Better Living with Homecare Benefits from Long Term Care Insurance.
I dedicate this Blog to Doc and Carôn who are writing about their journey now as seniors with in-home care. They aim to pass on wisdom to both young and old about living to the best of your ability with dignity, class, and, most of all, humor! Like Doc, I believe that maintaining a sense of humor is such an asset.  Since we first met, my wife Gina and I try to keep things light. We use humor even in difficult and stressful times in our personal lives, and we recognize and honor the important role that humor plays in our home care business.
Doc starts out by summarizing the key points of the book:
  • Overcoming many of the depressing aspects of aging at home
  • Home Care vs. Nursing Homes
  • Getting homecare with long term care insurance early
  • Living better as seniors
  • Purchasing insurance early in life
Purchasing insurance early in life is solid advice. Gina and I are about to begin our joint long-term care insurance policy. I plan on blogging about this more in the near future. Interestingly, after reviewing “traditional” LTC policies with policies that are basically whole life insurance, Gina and I choose a life insurance-based policy. We agree with Doc Lazar on this topic: you should strongly consider budgeting dollars for long term care for yourself and your spouse.
Many of the LTC insurance companies figure that once care starts, it’s a three-year run. On average, they calculate about $200 per day for in-home care.

Do the math: $200 x 365 days x 3 years = $219,000.  Double it for your partner and you’re looking at $438,000. So, either through solid investing or through an LTC policy, your retirement plan should allocate money for in-home care.  Don’t ignore this issue or assume your children will help, either financially and/or as caregivers. Gina and I are focused on not being a burden to our children at the end of our lives.  We want our later lives to be taken care of so that our children remain our children and not our caregivers. We’ve seen the toll family caregiving can take and we’re planning accordingly.

The book is a quick read, so it’s perfect to knock out in one sitting. I’d like to highlight some points Doc raised that resonated with me.
  1. On page five, Doc provides some background on his in-home care experience. Prior to hiring an in-home certified nursing assistant, he fell four times in two years. After hiring a certified CNA, he didn’t fall once in the two years afterward. He notes that through proper training with his CNA and assistance with movement, the likelihood of his falling decreased significantly. As Gina says, as long as the earth has gravity, you’re going to have falls. In other words, even if a CNA is right beside you, falls can happen. But with good assistance and training on movement and getting up, you can reduce the chances of a fall. In our three years of home care, our experience with clients is that a fall usually changes your life, especially if it’s severe enough to merit moving out of the home.
  2. On page eight in the “Achievement Over Depressing Aspects of Aging” chapter, Doc describes in detail what it’s like to be a senior. I appreciate his honesty in this section: he tells it like it is or could be, and it’s not a rosy picture. In fact, it can get you down. But, don’t worry. He then talks about the good to be found in aging and how to deal with difficult realities in a positive way.
  3. Doc Lazar speaks to losing control over aspects of one’s life. During the years of caring for my Mom, I’ve witnessed this reaction to losing control. It has depressed her and made her frustrated. A book I highly recommend, which highlights this issue, is David Solie’s How to Say It to Seniors. In this book, David discusses what he calls “the development stage of seniors” and provides advice on “dealing with the issue of control and the importance of helping a senior discover their legacy.”
  4. Doc then follows with “Achievement Solutions in Aging.” He emphasizes maintaining a sense of humor. All ten points starting on page nine are spot on. Please keep Doc’s good advice in mind.  A couple of key ideas:
  • Engaging the mind to deter Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  The mind needs to stay engaged. Amen to this. In presentations I’ve attended by Alzheimer’s of North Carolina and other notable subject matter experts, the question is asked, “What are we doing to prevent or deter Alzheimer’s?” Great question. The best answer is to stay active, especially mentally. If you can do some exercise, even simple things like sitting up a certain way or practicing getting up from a fall, you are thinking and moving—you are engaging your brain. Aware Senior Care is teaming with Alzheimer’s of North Carolina to deliver a seminar in Raleigh called “Think Well and Stress Less at Home.” We have several sessions in Raleigh starting on June 4th at 6 PM at the Five Points Center for Active Adults, 2000 Noble Rd, Raleigh, NC 27608.
  • Having purpose. This is one of Doc’s main points and is also one of the central themes of another great book we’ve reviewed by Atul Gawande, Being Mortal. Gina and I have incorporated some of Gawande’s ideas into how we care for our clients and how we think about our own lives. It synergizes well with Doc Lazar’s points. Think of things to do that make you feel good, and have reasons to get out of bed. Tailor your day and life to things that give you purpose. 
  • Another important point – laugh! Do it and do it often! Doc’s section, “One Achievement Story for the Young and the Old,” highlights this truth with a great vignette. I won’t spoil the story here, but rest assured it will have you in stitches. Perfect.

The small section on “Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder” really resonated with me because I’m already experiencing it. I usually forget things when I put too many items on my to-do list. I pride myself on being efficient and grouping activities together to complete them more quickly. One time I was repairing a refrigerator in the garage of our beach house. In the middle of the task, I remembered I needed to fix a wire on my sound system and diverted to that task.  When I returned to the refrigerator I couldn’t find my screwdriver. I looked all around. All I could find was my beer, which I got out during the refrigerator repair, which then became stereo repair. After five minutes of searching, I found the screwdriver – in the refrigerator! I had replaced the beer with the screwdriver. The lesson here: Don’t go overboard with tasks. Keep things simple and do them one at a time.

On page fifteen, Doc discusses “The Facts About Home Healthcare – Advantages (vs. Nursing Homes).”  He compares the advantages of living at home and living elsewhere (independent living, for example). Yes, people prefer to live their lives out in their homes. However, there may be times when moving to independent, assisted living or a CCRC (Continuous Care Retirement Community) makes sense. In my experience, I moved my Mom from her home to independent living, then to residential assisted living, and finally to an assisted living community. Mom DID NOT want to move but she understood why she needed 24/7 care and moving to a good assisted living community made sense. If you are considering moving out of the home, these points will help you form evaluation criteria. 

While I have nothing against nursing homes, the majority of people I talk to don’t have a goal of ending up in one. They do have their place though, in the continuum of care. For further information on the subject, we will be presenting a seminar in the coming months called “If Not Home, Where Then?” You can download a copy of the presentation on our website under our circle of support downloads. Since we mentioned several books we’ve reviewed, I wanted to mention another short book by Dr. David Fisher of Doctors Making House Calls, How to Keep Yourself (and Your Mother) Out of a Nursing Home. It’s a short read by a wonderful doctor and filled with personal, good advice.

Doctor Lazar’s book concludes with nine recommendations. Appropriately, the first recommendation is to seek long term care coverage.  Please take time to talk to experts in long term care and life insurance.  You will be pleasantly surprised that there are knowledgeable agents and brokers who will work with you to find the best possible solution for your situation. The process starts with documenting your goals for retirement and discussing how the agent or broker can help. There are a number of companies in Cary, such as New York Life, which is represented locally by Louis Prosser, a parishioner I know. We ran into one another because one of our long-time clients, a great gentlemen and NC State Professor, had a stroke at a young age. Luckily, Louis had worked with his wife to put a policy in place that had no ceiling and it took care of our client until his recent passing.

I’d like to close by thanking Dr. Lazar for speaking from his heart and providing us all with great advice and information. I have no doubt his book can help anyone live to their best in the final phase of life.
God bless and thank you!